According to Ayurveda, it is more important what you digest, than what you eat. There are certain foods that can be more difficult to digest even though they are full of nutrients. This does not mean that these foods should never be eaten by anyone. It just means they will need to be properly cooked, eaten in moderation, eaten less by people with weak digestion and people who do not have allergy to these foods.
For further questions about this, please talk to your Ayurveda nutrition guide
There are specific methods of cooking certain foods that neutralize the difficult components and make food easy to digest, for example soaking the beans and pressure cooking them with specific spices. Also cruciferous/ broccoli group vegetables get much easier to digest when blanched and washed after blanching.
Some common high nutrition foods that can be difficult to digest are:
1. Wheat, brown rice, corn, popcorn. (Easy to digest alternatives are white rice, quinoa especially white quinoa, well washed)
2. Cow milk, especially the ultrapasturised and when consumed as cold milk, ice cream, and heavy cream.
An easy to digest alternative for cow milk is goat milk, if tolerated, and almond milk (preferable for someone trying to lose weight, control cholesterol etc.).
Coconut milk is another alternative to cow milk, but it is a bit difficult to digest.
3. Red meat can be difficult to digest and increase lot of oiliness/ sluggishness in the body especially for overweight kapha individuals. Some alternatives are chicken and fish, but fish has concern with mercury contamination, so eat in moderation. Chicken should be coming from organic pasture raised chicken. Otherwise the conditions in which these animals are raised and their diet lowers the quality of meat and can add to its allergenic potential.
4. Fried food, fatty food, oils. Oils are required in moderation for absorbing nutrients from the food, but moderation is the key. If the oils come in the form of whole foods like nuts and seeds and oils added on top of foods they are more beneficial.
5. Processed foods including protein shakes, specially processed sugar. Foods that are packaged usually have additives that are harmful for the friendly gut bacteria. Best alternative for that is fresh homecooked meal which is well balanced.
6. Beans, especially bigger beans and some types of lentils. To prepare, soak beans/ lentils overnight, cook with recommended spices or traditional spices from your grandma's heirloom recipe, pressure cook. For those who are used to the Indian herbs asafetida or Hing can be used when soaking beans/ lentils and in cooking this will help reduce gassiness from beans
7. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts have some ingredients called goitrogens that can slow down function of thyroid. So they are best eaten blanched and then washed. These vegetables have an excellent nutrition profile, so please work on strengthening the digestion and get these vegetables in your diet, blanched, steamed, sautéed, roasted, preferably not raw.
8. Most of the nuts, especially soy, cashews and peanuts are quite difficult to digest. Almonds are okay in moderation. Nuts can be soaked and peeled/ roasted to improve digestibility, still moderation is key.
9. Fermented foods like pickles, Dosa mix, Tofu, aged cheeses, cocoa (chocolate) can also be difficult to digest.
10. ANYTHING THAT IS ICE COLD. (As ice cold foods decreases circulation to the gut), especially mixing hot and cold, for example having ice cream after a warm meal
This list is not all inclusive. I just included some commonly eaten foods and snacks. Again I think, the important thing is to improve digestion, so we can eat, tolerate and extract nourishment from more variety of foods. Talk to your Ayurveda nutrition guide for questions about this.