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Wellness

What is Food Combining?

June 24 - 2019

Food Combining.  We’ve heard that certain food combinations shouldn’t be eaten together, but why?

Eating well is one of the quickest, easiest, and most sensible ways to improve our overall health. 

The foods we consume daily can either rapidly deplete us or energize us. They play a role in the creation of proper health, energy, and weight maintenance. One of the best decisions we can make is to take responsibility for what goes into our bodies. Eliminating processed, refined, and synthetic foods completely from our diets and replacing them with organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and high-quality proteins is a good place to start. 

Taking that first step can put you on the right track to looking and feeling better.  However, it doesn’t stop there. It is also important to eat quick-exit foods, in quick-exit combinations. This means foods that are easiest to digest and move out of the body quickly. The quicker the food is to digest, the less waste matter it will leave. 

The order in which we consume our daily meals can also have an important impact on our digestion. Certain foods go well together and complement each other biochemically, while other foods interfere with each other’s digestion. Knowing which foods to eat together, and when to eat them, is known as Food Combining. 

The Basic Food Combining Chart

FRUIT / STARCH / PROTEIN (ANIMAL) / NUTS, SEEDS (FAT)

Fruit 

The main thing to remember about fruit is “Eat it alone or leave it alone.” Organic fruit is one of the cleanest, purest foods that you can eat. It should be eaten alone and on an empty stomach. Starting your day with a heaping bowl of your favorite fruit is one of the best ways to boost your energy level and supply your body with nutrients, minerals, fiber and other protective compounds that reduce risks of disease. Fruit moves through our digestive system in 20-30 minutes. Making it the ultimate quick exit food.

Starch

When choosing starches, it is best to look for the highest quality whole grain foods to add to your meal. Whole grains such as quinoa, amaranth, spelt, kamut, millet, sweet potatoes, black rice, legumes, etc. are great additions to incorporate into your diet. All vegetables combine well with starches (particularly leafy greens), as well as high-quality fats. For example, avocado on a whole grain piece of toast is an ideal food combination.

Protein

Animal protein consists of poultry, red meat, game, shellfish, fish, and eggs. If animal protein is a part of your diet, always look for the highest quality you can find. Pasture-raised poultry, grass fed meat, and sustainable wild harvested seafood are the best choices. 

Proteins pair well with water-rich vegetables, but not starchy vegetables or grains. 

Yes, that’s right, proteins and starches generally do not combine well together. This may contradict how most of us, who grew up on combinations like hamburgers and fries, or spaghetti and meatballs, were taught to view a complete meal. 

The truth is, eating a high protein (animal based) food combined with a starch food can slow down digestion, and even cause discomfort. The reason is because our stomachs use an acidic digestive enzyme to initiate the protein digestion, and an alkaline enzyme to initiate the starch digestion. The acid and alkaline substances neutralize each other, and digestion is hindered. For some, this causes acid reflux, gas, constipation and more. 

Nuts / Seeds / Fats

Nuts and seeds can be a great addition to a meal. Some of my favorites to enjoy are hemp seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and pine nuts. They add healthy fat, protein, texture and great flavor. Choosing raw organic nuts and seeds is best. And they pair well with raw salads and vegetables, as well as dried fruit. 

Now that you have a better understanding of why certain foods pair well together, let’s take a look at what an ideal day of proper food combining — with optimal digestion and maximum impact — would look like. 

  • Upon waking, have a glass of warm water with lemon.
  • Follow up with a green juice or smoothie. I like to combine dandelion greens, cilantro, ginger, and lemon juice. A red delicious apple can be added to counter some of the bitterness from the dandelion greens if needed.
  • If you’re still hungry after 30 minutes, have a mono-meal of fruit such as a bowl of berries or watermelon. Wait at least 20 minutes before your next meal. 
  • For lunch, enjoy a large leafy green salad with lots of veggies. Follow that with a side of quinoa, a baked sweet potato or toasted whole grain bread with avocado. Wait 3-4 hours before your next meal. 
  • Need a snack? Have a handful of nuts and dried fruit. 
  • For dinner, one of my favorite plant-based meals is curried chickpeas with a side of roasted cauliflower, quinoa, and avocado. It’s filling and very tasty thanks to the delicious spices.
    Another ideal protein-combined dinner would be wild salmon with a salad or with steamed/sautéed greens, such as kale or bok choy. 

Overall there are varied opinions behind the actual science of food combining.  Some say it makes no difference, and others believe it can be essential for good digestion and waste elimination.

Each one of us is unique. The best way to determine if a food combines well for you is your own conscious discernment. Pay attention to how you feel after food combinations. If you feel calm and gas free, then that combination may be OK for you. Simple meals made up of whole plant-based foods are best.  

 

By Sarena McDonald, Holistic Health Coach Practitioner, ceritfied from The Academy of Healing Nutrition

 

* Sources: 

The Raw Food Detox Diet – Natalia Rose (nutritionist)

Food Combining Basics – Dr. Mona Vand

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