Fruit can be tricky in Ayurveda, it doesn’t mix well with a lot of other food stuffs, and it can be difficult for some constitutions to digest. How we digest fruit depends on our constitution, how well our digestive fire or agni is working, the time of day we consume it, what we eat it with, and in which order.
Ayurveda is all about qualities. What happens when the qualities of our environment and foods meet the qualities of our bodies and minds? How these interactions play out is the difference between balance and imbalance.
Dried fruit is just that – it is fruit that is dry, and therefore potentially drying for a system. This can work in some people’s favour and others not so.
The Qualities of Dried fruit
Dried fruit has had most of its liquid removed. This means that it will be relying on moisture in the gut for its metabolism. It will also need a well stoked fire / agni in the stomach. Vata dosha is also dry, so if someone has a Vata imbalance or constitution, they will need to be meeting the dried fruit with enough hydration and unctuousness or fat.
Dried fruit is high in fibre. Fibre requires healthy agni and great digestive capacity. It is a bit misguided when people in the west say fibre is the answer to constipation. How is it going to be worked through a system that is dry and erratic?
Vata types and people with a Vata imbalance often have weak agni.
Soaking dried fruits can help here, and eating them with a little ginger will also add to the fire element and ease of absorption.
The Order We Eat Our Food In
The ancient texts talk about the order of food consumption being the order of the tastes in Ayurveda. The tastes begin with sweet, then its sour, salt, pungent, bitter and finally astringent. It’s funny that we in the west are so habituated to ending with something sweet! I have heard doctors say that eating fruit within a meal is fine, but to keep an eye on this order, so if it is a sweet fruit, have it first, and if it is sour – like pomegranate, second etc.
You don’t want to mix fruit with dairy or fish, as this is simply incompatible in one sitting, so it would only really work if you are eating a vegan meal.
Our Digestive Capacity
Cooked fruit is more desirable than raw, again this is all about our agni’s capacity. Especially in the morning when our digestive capacity is waking up (and raw fruit can be difficult to digest). Stewed apples with porridge or oatmeal is a lovely breakfast. I wouldn’t squirm at cooking a dried fig or two with this oatmeal. The cooking process makes it as easy as possible for our system: cooking it essentially pre-digests it. Cooking something in a pot together increases its compatibility too.
That being said, I would advise that raw fruit (especially melon, citrus fruits, bananas, mangos, pineapples etc.) be consumed on their own, between the hours of 10am and 4pm. A gap of a couple of hours between them and other food types can be left. Do not eat fruit after around 4pm, and certainly not after dark. It is too cold, raw and difficult for us to process.
So my advice would be:
How well is your digestive system working? If it is working well, then go for it and snack on some dried fruit, making sure you are also taking in enough liquid throughout the day.
And listen to how your body responds to what you are eating. I am a huge advocate of people raising their awareness and enhancing their capacity to listen to what they are being told by their bodies and minds. What works and what doesn’t for you? Once you have the fundamentals under your belt of not combining certain foods like fruit and dairy, fish and fruit or fish and dairy, for instance then you can play around a little. Knowing how your digestive fire works; how to stoke it and not put it out or drown it, and what your needs are is key.
Feel free to get in touch with me here if you’d like to find out more about bringing yourself into balance.
By Selina Van Orden