What if I told you that by simply re-arranging the contents of your dinner plate, you could experience more energy after eating and less bloating? You’d say “hell ya”, right? So a few simple truths about the way certain food groups digest when consumed together should have been something we all learned in Home Economics. And I’d like to say that maybe we did learn about it but we forgot, but evidence would show by your standard meal combinations such as the routine Sunday Roast dinner and the ubiquitous Spag Bol and Lasagne batch cook meals…that this simply isn’t the case.
What’s the Deal With Food Combining?
There are three main food groups that form the bulk of our diet, they are:
- Carbohydrates (think: pasta, potatoes, bread, vegetables and fruits)
- Proteins (think: meat, fish, eggs, dairy)
- Fats (think: coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds)
Carbohydrates are broken into two groups:
Starches are further broken down into two very important groups:
- High Starch
- Low Starch
If we take a standard Roast Dinner as our example, you have your roast chicken (protein), steamed carrots (low starch carb), mashed potatoes (high starch carb), peas (high starch carb) and maybe some roast parsnips (high starch carb). Why does this meal not work very well?
“Food [p]airing is based on the science of how food digests optimally in the body. Different foods digest with different enzymes, and some call for more acidic or more alkaline environments”. (1)
Proteins, such as your chicken, prefer to be broken down in a digestive environment that is acidic and carbs, like your potatoes, like to be digested in an environment that is alkaline. And as we only have one stomach (!) it makes sense that these two very opposite environments cannot be achieved at the same time.
So what happens? The whole process slows down, the body gets a little confused, creates gas and bloating and also it’s working pretty hard now to figure things out so it’s diverting energy from the brain to work on digesting. This is why you feel sooooooo incredibly tired after the Christmas dinner. Which is fine if this is just a once year, right? But if we are dealing with this every day, or (shock!) after every meal? Cue chronic fatigue and bloated belly and just feeling pretty blah 😞.
The 6 Golden Rules of Food Combining
- Eat fruit by itself, preferably earlier in the day;
- Do not drink cold drinks around meal time;
- Eat either a protein or a high starch carb, not both in the same meal;
- Combine protein or a high starch carb with a low starch carb (think loads of green leafy veg, carrots, cauliflower, salads, etc.);
- Herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, fats, oils and dairy (if you can tolerate dairy, a lot of people can’t) go pretty well with everything;
- Steamed or roasted veg is always easier to digest than raw.
A 80% / 20% rule is always a good one to follow. Equally, allow yourself to enjoy the process and if you feel that it’s causing you more stress than you think it is worth, let it go. Being mindful of what makes you truly feel good is the most important part of choosing what to eat, always let your body and your “gut feeling” (pun totally intended ;-)) guide you in everything you do.
Love + Light
- Snyder, Kimberly, The Beauty Detox Solution. Harlequin – Non-Fiction 2013