Health · nutrition

The Basics of Food Combining

Poor food combining is one of the main causes of bloating, gas, heartburn and upset stomach. Your stomach is not properly digesting the food, and this can contribute to malnutrition. When I was eating my yogurt breakfast, I would notice that I didn’t feel as good as I did when I woke up but I didn’t think much of it. It almost because a normal thing to feel like that after I ate. The more  I read about food and the different ways our bodies react to how we eat, the more aware I become of my body. When you stop and consciously recognize how your body is feeling after a meal it helps you understand what works for you and what doesn’t. The body is brilliant and should be listened to. When I was getting an upset stomach my body was trying to tell me that it didn’t like the food I was putting in to it – regardless of how healthy I thought it was.

For the longest time I would eat my fruit with other foods, specifically in the morning. I would get my bowl of yogurt, add my granola and top it with some fruit. I generally eat this in the office when I start off my work day and not too long after that I start to feel a little uncomfortable, like my dress pants are a little too tight and pushing on my stomach. I was never fully conscious of the fact that this was because of my poor food combining.

Before I continue to explain what foods should not be combined together, I want to give a basic description of digestion. As simply put as possible, you ingest your food, your stomach digests your food, your intestines take the food and absorb the nutrients they need and then you excrete the leftovers (Ingestion, Digestion, Assimilation, Elimination). The problem with poor food combining is that your body digests different types of foods along different parts of the digestion cycle. Some foods start getting broken down in your mouth (starches), others begin digestion in the stomach (protein), while others chemically get digested in your intestines (fruit). So, when you mix certain foods together, if one is supposed to be digested in your stomach while the other is digested in the intestines, the one food sits and rots while waiting to move on to the intestines.

For example: meat and potatoes. Meat requires a high level of stomach acid to be digested, while potatoes – a starch – requires a much more alkaline stomach. When you put the two together in your stomach, it can’t produce more acid while being more alkaline, so essentially, your stomach neutralizes and both foods are unable to be digested properly. Now these undigested foods are sent through the rest of your body wreaking havoc – which is when you start to feel gassy or bloated.

food combining

Here are some food combining rules to follow:

  1. Eat fruit alone – eat fruit 30-60 minutes before a meal, or 30-6o minutes after a meal
    • now you know why I say I hate fruit. I find it quite inconvenient to have to wait a certain time period before or after a meal to eat my fruit. Not to mention, I used to regularly add fruit to my meals – yogurt, cereal, salads
    • the reason to eat fruit separately is because of how the body digests them. Fruit is chemically broken down in the intestines, not the stomach. When combined with other foods with different digestion cycles, it can cause problems along the line.
  2. Do not mix proteins and starches
    • again this is due to the different forms of digestion. Proteins require an acidic breakdown while starches follow a longer digestion cycle, starting in the mouth, followed by an alkaline based digestion. When the two are mixed together it leads to improper digestion and your body doesn’t get all of the nutrients available in the food
    • Do eat proteins and not starchy vegetables together – such as a chicken breast, with steamed broccoli and asparagus or a side salad
  3. Eat grains and starchy vegetables with non-starchy vegetables
    • grains such as quinoa or buckwheat can be eaten with potatoes, squash or other non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, cucumber

I really like this article, it goes into food combinations a little more in depth and it is easy to read. When you first read an article about food combining it can be a little overwhelming because it changes the way we think about food. Not mixing proteins and starches means: no pasta and meatballs, a burger without the bun, meat without the potatoes. This is a big life change for many people. It doesn’t mean you need to cut it out of your diet right now because then you will never enjoy eating healthily. Changing your diet and the way you see food is a process that requires time, and that is okay. Just by reading this article, or any related article is a step in the right direction. When you are aware of these things, then you will slowly become more aware of how your body feels and it might trigger you to realize “Hey, this isn’t normal. Why do I feel like this? There’s got to be a better way”

Start slow – keep these rules in mind and you will slowly start to change your diet because you know that the foods don’t play nice in your stomach. By making these changes, your body will thank you and reward you instantly by beginning to feel better and healing itself.

Do you consciously create meals based off proper food combining? If not, how do you feel about the above? Is it something you can see yourself working towards?

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