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We just wrapped up Good Gut Ayurveda’s first ever “Kick Your Food Cravings 5-Day Challenge” over in our community group, Mindful Cooks Who Nourish and Flourish.
With nearly 100 people participating and nearly a quarter of them sharing about their experiences in the group, it was a resounding success, and we really starting building our community.
The subject of food cravings is profound, and a tough nut to crack, and this group of participants really dug deep.
Because we experience food cravings all the time, and for all sorts of food, food cravings can feel sort of complicated. Our cravings certainly reflect more than simply our need for sustenance.
This challenge asked us to really think about why we eat, what we really receive from our food, and how food makes us feel.
In general, many participants expressed a dissatisfaction with their relationship to their food. They felt like they were being controlled by their cravings, and not the other way around.
Unhealthy Cravings Versus True Hunger
So what’s the difference between an unhealthy food craving and true hunger?
When you have a strong desire for a particular food—especially one high in processed sugar, salt, or fat—and only that particular food will do, it’s potentially an unhealthy food craving.
While if it’s true hunger, you will feel satisfied by any food.
So the next time your mind forms an image of what you must eat, test yourself with the following question:
Would you be okay with eating something else instead?
And if your craving is for something sweet and creamy, ask yourself if you would be satisfied with vegan banana ice cream instead?Jump to Recipe
How to Make Banana Ice Cream
Banana ice cream has almost the exact same creamy consistency as real ice cream, all without the heavy dairy of regular ice cream, or the added fats and oils of plant-based dairy alternatives.
In fact, there’s nothing in banana ice cream but bananas. Although you do need a little bit of lubrication from a plant-based milk like almond or rice milk just to get the blender blades turning.
To make this, all you need to do is take perfectly ripe bananas, peel them, and freeze them until solid.
When you’re ready to make the ice cream, remove the bananas from the freezer, and chop roughly. Place in the blender with the plant-based milk and blend until smooth.
The texture you get is amazingly similar to real ice cream, and it’s due to the high pectin content of the bananas.
Just imagine that you can enjoy a delightful, fat-free treat like this any time you want to, and feel no guilt about it.
I can assure you that most people will definitely feel that banana ice cream is lighter and easier to digest than regular ice cream.
Eat Bananas to Soothe Your Gut
As you know from experience, bananas are moist, smooth, sticky, and slippery, and its exactly these qualities that make bananas soothing to the intestinal tract and good for gut health.
Bananas are the perfect things to eat regularly if you are experiencing any irritation or inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract.
Unlike hard foods, bananas are soft and smooth. Yet, a single banana still contains about 10-12 percent of your daily fiber needs, which is rare in the food world.
And this includes inulin fiber, a form of resistant starch that nourishes good bacteria in your gut.
Fiber promotes smooth and regular bowel movements. Bananas are particularly helpful for constipation, while if diarrhea is a concern, eating your bananas more on the unripe side is best, as the astringent taste acts as a stool binder.
Bananas are known to reduce inflammation and bloating due to their high potassium content, which acts to flush out excess sodium.
According to a study of overweight women who experimented with eating a banana twice daily as a pre-meal snack for 60 days, good bacteria increased, bad bacteria decreased, and symptoms of bloating reduced by half!
How to Maximize the Digestibility of Bananas
From an Ayurvedic perspective, although bananas are probably better than ice cream for most people, there are still some cautions to consider that might surprise you.
The problem is that bananas are quite heavy and sweet, and they have a special property (prabhava in Sankrit) of having a heavy aftereffect.
What this means is that the heaviness lingers in your body and has a tendency to be channel clogging.
When we talk about channels in Ayurveda we mean channels of movement in the body, such as respiratory, circulatory, digestive, elimination, etc.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, bananas are strongly kapha, which is represented by the qualities of water and earth elements.
These elements are building (earth) and lubricating (water), which is why bananas are best for vata individuals who are all air and ether, and worst for kapha individuals (since like increases like).
Pitta people will enjoy the banana’s heavy qualities, but they still need to watch out for a buildup of the water element which suppresses fire.
Regardless of your body type, most people would benefit from adding a digestive to their bananas to help to stimulate metabolism.
Digestive strength can be added through the addition of spices like cinnamon, cardamon, black pepper, and cumin.
The sour taste is also very helpful, and in this case fresh lime juice is a great choice.
Sour taste contains the fire element, which is the energy of digestion itself, and it has the effect of stimulating the secretion of digestive juices.
Vaidya Mishra of SV Ayurveda makes a fascinating point that the smaller the banana, the more aromatic it tends to be, and the less channel blocking (due to the opening effect of the aromatics).
This leads me to suggest adding aromatic herbs to your banana ice cream, such as fresh mint, basil, or lemon balm.
Avoid Bananas With Milk
Another important concept for gut health that comes from Ayurveda are rules around food combining.
Certain foods simply do not digest well together, and this is knowledge that has been gathered and systematized over time.
We’ve already talked about the sweet and heavy qualities of bananas, and milk has same qualities.
Based on this, you might think that milk and bananas go together, but they don’t!
So you might want to think twice about having bananas with breakfast cereal and milk, or bananas with yogurt.
The reason has to do with something called post-digestive effects, known in Ayurveda as vipaka.
The vipaka of bananas is sour, while the vipaka of milk is sweet. This particular combination is difficult for the stomach to handle.
Vipaka is the result of the mixing of digestive juices (known as your agni), along with the phytochemicals that create the food’s particular tastes.
Remember, Ayurveda is an ancient science, and all of this information is known. See this chart for more information about food combining.
Vegan Banana Ice Cream Recipe
- 2 bananas frozen
- 1/2 cup plant-based milk (almond, rice, or other)
- Remove bananas from the freezer and chop them roughly. Add frozen bananas to a blender with almond or rice milk, and pulse until smooth. Remove with a spatula.
- Enjoy right away or store in a freezer-safe container. The ice cream will get hard if stored in the freezer overnight. If this happens, allow to soften on the counter for 20 minutes (or until you can scoop it), or defrost in the microwave.
- Check the notes for optional add-ins or toppings. And most importantly, enjoy.