Blog Nutrition Bad Food Combinations: 10 Plus Foods That Should Not Be Eaten Together

Bad Food Combinations: 10 Plus Foods That Should Not Be Eaten Together

According to Ayurveda, an ancient Indian traditional medical practice, there are certain food combinations you should avoid as they’re believed to cause delayed digestion, gas, and bloating. In some cases, it is said that the food combinations may even form toxins in the body and cause more harm than good (13). 

To solve this, Ayurveda has come up with a process of matching and eating specific foods together to improve digestion and make the most of nutrients absorbed from them. 

Food combining is not based on modern nutritional science. In fact, some of its principles go against modern health recommendations and even contradict each other. That being said, if you feel that this diet works for you and you like the structure of the rules, just make sure you’re able to still eat a balanced diet and don’t get caught up in restrictions that you don’t eat enough..

What Are Bad Food Combinations?

The Ayurvedic food combination diet pairs foods according to:

  • Compatible pH levels – certain foods are believed to have an alkaline-forming effect on the body while others are more acidic. It’s believed that pairing foods with compatible pH levels makes digestion more efficient, although this idea is not supported by physiological science. 
  • Digestion speeds – some foods digest faster than others. Proponents of food combining say that pairing foods with similar digestion speeds is best for avoiding overloading the digestive system and making it supposedly inefficient. 

Based on these principles, there are three rules:

Foods That Can Be Eaten Together

  • Starches and non-starchy vegetables
  • Protein and non-starchy vegetables 

Foods That Shouldn’t Be Eaten Together 

  • Starches and protein 
  • Protein and other protein 

 Foods That Should Be Eaten Separately 

  • Fruits – they should be eaten 20 minutes before a meal or on an empty stomach 
  • Dairy foods

This diet argues against the consumption of balanced meals that contain protein, carbohydrates, and fat together due to the different enzymes and processes that are needed to digest these macronutrients. However, the digestive system is more than capable of handling mixed meals and is designed to process whole foods that always contain a combination of macro- and micronutrients. 

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The Bad Food Combinations List 

There are several food pairings that (according to proponents of Ayurvedic food pairing) aren’t recommended, including:

Soda and Pizza

It doesn’t take an ancient medical practice to tell you this – soda and pizza are not great for you. There are a number of reasons why.

Firstly, pizza is high in fat and not the good type. The fat is mostly saturated. Diets that are high in saturated fat can put you at higher risk of heart disease (10). 

Secondly, it’s also high in salt and spiciness, which can be difficult on the digestive system. Salty foods also lead to water retention, which can make the number on the scale go up or make you feel uncomfortable (10). Salt can also affect your blood pressure, particularly if you have hypertension. 

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How To Make Vegetables Taste Good? 8 Vegetable Ideas And Recipes

Finally, consuming these two foods together doesn’t make for the most balanced meal. And as they’re both rich in simple carbs, you may crave more, which could lead to weight gain over time if you eat this way regularly(10). 

Soda is similarly problematic by being sugary and acidic. The combination of soda with pizza may overwhelm the digestive system, causing discomfort.

White Bread and Jam 

While a slice of white bread and jam for breakfast may be the quickest breakfast you can make before you rush off to start your day, it’s certainly not the healthiest. It’s a bad food combination as it’s low in protein and fat and high in simple carbs. This sets you up for a terrible day, food-wise.

Firstly, the sugar in jam is likely to give you energy for an hour or so. But when it wears off, you’re likely to be hungry again soon. 

Secondly, white bread is made from highly-processed flour that provides very little to no fiber for your digestive system. It essentially just turns into sugar and won’t keep you full for long.

There are some times when this pairing would make a perfect snack, such as before you hit the gym and need a light, quick-digesting energy boost. However, other than that, it’s a bad food combination.

To make this food combination better, swap the jam or add some protein-rich nut butter that also offers a dose of satiating, healthy fats. And swap the white bread for fiber-rich whole-grain bread.

bad food combinations  

Salad and Low-Fat Dressing 

It seems logical to think that a salad paired with a low-fat dressing would be a great choice for weight loss. Unfortunately, it’s not the best food combination in terms of digestion and health, according to Ayurveda.

Some experts have suggested that combining fat-free dressings (and other fat-free items) is not virtuous at all as skipping out on fat can lead to cravings later on. In other words, you may be so hungry that you overeat later (5).

Furthermore, there are nutrients in a salad that can’t be absorbed in the absence of fat, including beta-carotene, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids (11). 

Instead, it’s better to have a small amount of healthy fat with your salad, such as a drizzle of olive oil or a healthy oil-based dressing. You may also add avocado slices to your salad for a boost of healthy fats.

However, moderation is key. A large amount of fat with a salad may lead to digestive discomfort and if you end up consuming more calories than you need, the potential for weight gain will increase. 

Iron-Rich Foods and Coffee

It’s common to have iron-rich foods such as a spinach omelet for breakfast together with a cup of coffee or tea. Unfortunately, the polyphenols and tannins in tea and the chlorogenic acid in coffee can reduce the absorption of iron (15). 

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Kombucha For Gut Health: 8 Science-Backed Benefits Of This Probiotic Tea

For women of menstruation and child-bearing age, this can be an issue as iron is essential for proper health and energy levels.

Eating these foods together could lead to a lack of energy and a general feeling of ill health if you don’t get enough iron (5). The solution? Skip the tea or coffee when you eat your iron-rich meal and wait at least two hours before drinking it. 

At the same time, vitamin C can help increase non-heme iron absorption (14). If you absolutely must have coffee with your breakfast, make sure to eat something that’s high in vitamin C such as citrus fruits or some red bell peppers and a source of iron at lunchtime and dinnertime.

Citrus Fruits and Milk

Milk and orange juice are common features on a breakfast table. It may seem like a good way to start your day, but it’s actually said to be a bad food combination.

According to ancient Ayurvedic literature, sour fruits such as oranges should not be paired with milk. This food combination is believed to be a bad idea for several reasons. Firstly, it is claimed that because citrus fruits are acidic, they can disrupt the balance of your stomach’s digestive enzymes and make digestion difficult (13).

In reality, your stomach is an incredibly acidic environment due to the hydrochloric acid it produces to help with digestion. Therefore, it’s unlikely that the acidity of citrus fruits has any effect at all on the pH of the digestive system.

Milk is also high in lactose sugar that requires an enzyme called lactase to break it down properly into glucose and galactose. Without this enzyme, you’re more likely to suffer from gas, bloating, and indigestion after you drink milk (1). This only applies to people who are lactose intolerant.

If you follow the Ayurvedic food pairing principle, instead of having orange juice with milk, make sure to eat your citrus fruit on its own, preferably 20 minutes after you’ve eaten your breakfast. 

Breakfast Cereal and Orange Juice 

Most breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals that are great for your health. Unfortunately, they’re not so good when they’re eaten with orange juice.

Juices such as orange juice contain high amounts of sugar, particularly those that contain added sugar (12). Combined with sugary cereal, this meal can cause a blood sugar spike that may lead to a crash in energy levels about an hour later.

Instead, have cereal with other options such as milk or fresh whole fruit. And look for cereals that are high in fiber and protein and low in added sugars. 

Read more: 24 Weight Loss Smoothies, 2 Diet Plans, and 5 Belly Fat Smoothie Secrets

Wine and Dessert 

A glass of wine with your favorite chocolate mousse may seem like the perfect way to end a nice dinner, but if you practice Ayurvedic food combinations, it’s not. In fact, there are several reasons why it’s not a good combination.

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Healthy Food Alternatives To Fast Food: 10 Of The Best Healthy Foods To Satisfy Your Unhealthy Junk Cravings

Firstly, alcohol slows down the digestive process, although it does not necessarily increase symptoms of indigestion(9). However, if you eat a large meal followed by dessert, the alcohol may mean you’re going to feel full for a while afterward, which can sometimes be uncomfortable if you overdo it. 

The best thing to do is end your meal with a cup of herbal tea or some fresh fruit. 

Bacon and Eggs 

Bacon and eggs are a classic breakfast combo that’s been enjoyed for generations. Unfortunately, this breakfast food combination is a bad idea according to Ayurveda due to the high amounts of protein and fat.

Your stomach needs time to produce enough acid that can break down proteins. According to Ayurvedic beliefs, a combination of two proteins has a particularly long digestion process (3). 

Furthermore, bacon is high in saturated fat while eggs are high in cholesterol, which can cause fatty deposits to form on the artery walls over time. This may increase your chance of developing heart disease and stroke.

The best thing to do is eat bacon or eggs either with some whole-wheat toast or some fresh fruit. Protein and fat can be combined together in a more ideal ratio with whole grains than with products such as eggs.

Pasta with Tomato and Cheese Sauce

Tomato sauce is acidic in nature, while spaghetti is made from carbohydrates that break down into glucose quickly. This can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels (4). In addition, pasta lacks the necessary protein to balance out this meal.

In fact, when you eat tomato sauce with pasta, you’re mostly eating carbohydrates. This means you’ll feel hungry soon after you’ve eaten, which can lead to snacking or overeating later. 

The solution? Pair whole-wheat pasta with a protein and add some vegetables such as mushrooms or spinach for extra fiber and nutrients.

Roasted Nuts and Beer

If you’ve been to a bar, you’ll notice that peanuts are often served with beer. While this food combination may not sound too bad, you should know that roasted nuts are high in salt and beer has diuretic properties that can cause dehydration (16).

Putting the two together makes it even worse as the salt makes you thirsty, which can lead to you drinking more beer, which can then make you even more dehydrated.(2).

If you absolutely have to have a beer with your roasted nuts, make sure you drink plenty of water in between or after your meal.

bad food combinations  

What Food Combinations Upset Your Stomach?

Some food combinations are not recommended in Ayurveda due to their potential to cause digestive symptoms or discomfort in some people. Here are some common food combinations that may cause digestive issues:

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Dairy and Citrus Fruits

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt contain a sugar called lactose, which can be difficult to digest for some people. When combined with acidic fruits such as oranges, lemons, or tomatoes, the acid in the fruit is believed to cause the milk to curdle in your stomach, which can lead to bloating and discomfort. In reality, your stomach is already a highly acidic environment and the presence of citrus fruit has no impact on how you digest dairy products. If you experience digestive discomfort after eating dairy, it’s more likely due to lactose intolerance.

High-Fat Foods and Carbohydrates

Fatty foods take longer to digest than other types of food. When paired with high-carb foods such as pasta, rice, or bread, the fat can slow down the digestion process even more. This can cause bloating, gas, and discomfort as the food sits in your digestive system for a longer period of time. At the same time, slower digestion of carbohydrates means a slower release of energy into your bloodstream, which is generally seen as a positive thing for blood sugar levels, energy, and satiety.

If you want to learn about Refined Carbs and their effect on your health, check out our previous post.

Beans and Whole Grains

Beans and whole grains are both high in fiber, which is important for digestive health. However, when they’re eaten together, they can create a lot of gas in your digestive system, as can any high-fiber meal if you’re not used to eating a lot of fiber. This can lead to bloating and discomfort, and for some people, it may even cause diarrhea. Rather than avoiding these two healthy foods, if you want to increase your fiber intake, doing so gradually can help you avoid digestive discomfort. 

Meat and Starchy Vegetables

Meat is a protein-rich food that takes longer to digest than other types of food. When it is eaten with starchy vegetables such as potatoes or corn, the combination can take even longer to digest, potentially leading to uncomfortable bloating and gas. Again, slower digestion is often viewed as a positive thing for several other reasons. 

Spicy Foods and Acidic Foods

Spicy foods are known to irritate the digestive system, which can cause discomfort for some people. When combined with acidic foods such as tomatoes or citrus fruits, the spice may increase stomach acid production, which can lead to heartburn and discomfort for some people.

Caffeine and Alcohol

Both caffeine and alcohol act as diuretics, which means they can cause dehydration. When combined, they can further increase the risk of dehydration, potentially leading to stomach discomfort, bloating, and constipation.

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7 Fruits That Hydrate And 7 Recipes That Include Them

Which Vegetables Should Not Be Eaten Together?

Vegetables that contain high amounts of sulfur compounds, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, are not usually eaten together on this diet. When combined, these vegetables can cause excessive gas and bloating in some people.

Other vegetable combinations to avoid include:

  • Nightshade vegetables (e.g. tomatoes, eggplant, peppers) and high-protein vegetables (e.g. beans, lentils, soy products): this combination is claimed to lead to digestive discomfort and potential nutrient absorption issues.
  • High-calcium vegetables (e.g. spinach, kale, collard greens) and iron-rich vegetables (e.g. beets, peas, pumpkin seeds): the calcium may interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iron from these vegetables. However, if you get enough iron from other sources, this shouldn’t be too much of a concern. 
  • Starchy vegetables (e.g. potatoes, corn) and acidic vegetables (e.g. tomatoes, bell peppers): this combination is believed to lead to digestive discomfort and potential acid reflux.
  • Cruciferous vegetables (e.g. cauliflower, kale, cabbage) and high-fiber vegetables (e.g. asparagus, artichokes, Brussels sprouts): the combination of these types of vegetables may cause excessive gas and bloating.

It’s important to note that everyone’s digestive system is different, so some may not experience any issues with these vegetable combinations. However, it’s always best to pay attention to how your body reacts to certain foods or combinations and tailor your diet accordingly.

Which Fruits Should Not Be Mixed With Milk?

According to Ayurveda principles, some fruits should not be mixed with milk as they are believed to cause digestive issues and other problems. These fruits include:

  • Sour citrus fruits (e.g. oranges, lemons, limes) and acidic berries (e.g. cranberries, blueberries): the acid in these fruits is claimed to curdle the milk and lead to digestive discomfort.
  • Tropical fruits such as pineapple and mango: these fruits have a high sugar content and are believed to cause an increase in stomach acid when combined with milk, which can lead to heartburn.
  • Melons such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew: these fruits are best eaten alone or with other melons as they are claimed to cause fermentation when they’re mixed with milk, leading to digestive discomfort and potential food poisoning.

At the same time, fruits that are safe to eat with milk include bananas, apples, and pears. These fruits have a low acidity level and are believed to be easily digested when combined with milk. Most of these claims have no scientific basis. 

Read more: Your Guide To The 7-Day Protein Diet Plan for Weight Loss

bad food combinations  


  • What is the most unhealthy food?

Although all foods can fit into a healthy diet in some way, there are certain foods that are best limited or included in moderation. Some of the most unhealthy foods are those that are ultra-processed or high in added sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. The reason for this is that these foods lack essential nutrients but contain a lot of calories and often don’t keep you feeling full for very long. This can contribute to weight gain if you’re heavily reliant on these foods in your diet. Over time, diets that are particularly high in these foods can contribute to chronic health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes (17).

Below are some examples of the most unhealthy foods:

  • Fast food and fried foods (e.g. burgers, fries, chicken nuggets)
  • Processed meats (e.g. hot dogs, bacon, deli meats)
  • Sugary drinks (e.g. soda, energy drinks, sports drinks)
  • Snack foods (e.g. chips, cookies, candy bars)
  • Pastries and desserts (e.g. cakes, donuts, ice cream)

Our blog – High Carb Foods To Avoid – offers valuable tips on adopting a healthy diet

  • Why shouldn’t you mix yogurt and fruit?

According to Ayurveda, mixing yogurt and fruit can cause digestive issues as they both have different digestion processes (13). Yogurt is a dairy product that’s sour and acidic in nature, while fruits are generally sweet and said to be alkaline, although most fruits actually have an acidic pH. 

When they’re mixed together, the dairy and fruit enzymes are believed to counteract each other’s benefits and potentially lead to gas, bloating, and discomfort. It’s recommended to consume yogurt and fruits separately, with a gap of at least 30 minutes in between. 

However, yogurt and fruit is a very common combination in many people’s diets and it doesn’t seem to cause any issues.

  • Can I eat an apple at night?

Yes, you can eat an apple at night. 

Apples are an excellent source of fiber and contain natural sugars that can help satisfy hunger cravings before bedtime. They also contain antioxidants and vitamins that can support overall health (7). 

However, some people find it better to avoid eating too close to bedtime as it can cause discomfort and disrupt sleep (8). It may be best to eat an apple at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed. 

In addition, try pairing the apple with a source of protein or healthy fat, such as nut butter or cheese, for a balanced and satisfying snack.

  • What is the unhealthiest snack?

The unhealthiest snack is any that’s high in calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugars. These types of snacks provide little to no nutritional value and can contribute to weight gain and health issues over time if they’re eaten in excess. 

Examples of unhealthy snacks include chips, cookies, candy bars, pastries, and sugary drinks. It’s important to limit these types of snacks in your diet and opt for healthier options such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

For info about What to Eat After Fasting, check out our previous post.

The Bottom Line

Some food combinations can have a negative effect, according to Ayurveda. Generally, proponents believe that it’s best to keep your meals as simple as possible. However, the rules of what food combinations to avoid are complicated, contradictory, limiting, and don’t always make sense. Don’t allow complicated rules to interfere with your ability to eat a healthy, balanced, diet.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. [Lactose intolerance and the consumption of milk products] (1997,
  2. Abdominal Bloating Pathophysiology and Treatment (2013,
  3. Adverse Effects Associated With Protein Intake Above Recommended Dietary Allowance for Adults (2013,
  4. Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar (2015,
  5. Change in food cravings, food preferences, and appetite during a low-carbohydrate and low-fat diet (2011,
  6. Dietary fat and functional dyspepsia (2016,
  7. Does an apple a day keep away diseases? Evidence and mechanism of action (2023,
  8. Does the Proximity of Meals to Bedtime Influence the Sleep of Young Adults? A Cross-Sectional Survey of University Students (2020,
  9. Drinking alcohol during a rich meal slows down digestion, but does not increase indigestion, study finds (2010,
  10. Energy and Nutrient Intake From Pizza in The United States (2015,
  11. Fat-Soluble Vitamins – Diet and Health (n.d.,
  12. Fruit Juices: Are They Helpful or Harmful? An Evidence Review (2021,
  13. Incompatible Food Combining (n.d.,
  14. Interaction of vitamin C and iron (1980,
  15. Iron absorption and phenolic compounds: importance of different phenolic structures (1989,
  16. The Diuretic Action of Weak and Strong Alcoholic Beverages In Elderly Men: A Randomized Diet-Controlled Crossover Trial (2017,
  17. The Hidden Dangers of Fast and Processed Food (2018,
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