Have a “balanced” breakfast folks. Eggs, toast with jelly, and fruit for breakfast. Top it off with a big glass of milk or pasteurized Orange juice. Maybe for lunch it’s that sandwich. A lot of pre-made and packaged foods have more than 10 INGREDIENTS! What is the problem with that? Well nothing if you feel like spending a lot of extra energy digesting all of those foods. Before I begin, I would like to add that food combining and eating habits are a very person specific thing. What works well for one person may not work well for others. I will however, put out some basic guidelines that will help most people avoid the worst combinations.
STARCHES AND PROTEINS: This is the heart breaker. I won’t lie to you and say that I don’t like a steak with potatoes here and there. Maybe some chicken and rice? Starches and proteins require different digestive environments. Our body treats them differently. Of course we are brilliantly capable of digesting this stuff; it just isn’t very efficient. Sandwiches and burgers also fit this category as does pizza.
FRUITS: Fruit digests extremely quickly. Berries usually take around 30 minutes with hardier fruits such as apples and pears taking maybe 45 minutes. It goes in and out of the stomach very fast. What does this mean? Fruit doesn’t digest like anything else. It is best to eat fruit by itself as a meal or snack. For most people, this is usually best done in the early part of the day. What happens when we eat fruit after a meal is that it gets “stuck” behind food we have eaten previously. This can cause faulty digestion, fermentation in the gut, and all kinds of unwanted effects. A good rule of thumb is to eat fruit maybe half an hour BEFORE a meal and not after the meal is over. Fruit for breakfast is a great way to follow this one as well. So unfortunately things like trail mixes, fruit with nut butter, and other types of dried fruit mixed with protein bars type stuff is out.
LIQUIDS: Don’t drink too much liquid with your meals. Sipping on water is a good practice. Just don’t guzzle down that coke with your burger. Basically, too much liquid dilutes our own digestive enzymes. As with fruit, do this before a meal. A good rule of thumb is to consume most of your water separate from meals.
Having said that, what is a “mono-meal?” A mono-meal is where you eat just ONE type of food per meal. This may include eating a couple of apples for breakfast. It may include just eating some eggs here, an avocado there, some sardines here, etc. Maybe just some steamed vegetables. Almost all animals in nature practice eating mono-meals. They don’t gather a ton of different ingredients and mix them together. So this appears to be best from a digestion standpoint right? Well, not exactly. Partly, we are HUMAN. We have been combining foods for quite a while. Sometimes combining food simply makes things more appealing and appetizing. Maybe eating raspberries AND blueberries is more appealing to you than just blueberries. This is pretty ok. They are basically the same thing. A little different yes, but they require extremely similar digestive environments. Eating blueberries and apples may not be as good. Sometimes combining foods actually makes the food EASIER to digest. Examples of this seem to be vegetables with healthy fats. Eating some steamed vegetables with a little fat from raw coconut oil, raw butter, olive oil, etc makes the vegetables quite palatable. The “lubrication” from the fat helps with digestion. Eating food in simple combinations also means that your food absorbs easier into your system. Think of it as a sorting line. When we eat a big “mash,” our bodies have to sort it all. I would like to add that some health conditions actually REQUIRE food combining. These may include issues with blood sugar, adrenal issues, etc. So don’t go against what your body needs at the time; evolve with it. AHH Complicated. So what do we do with all of this?
Well, you can make food combining as complicated or as simple as you want. There are charts out there that help you pick what works for you. Following the above guidelines should help most people. But just really use your intuition to help guide you. Experiment with different eating patterns. You may realize that you are wasting a lot of energy digesting all this complicated food. Even “healthy” eating plans are not usually optimal. I usually pick on vegans so I’ll pick on “popular paleos” today instead. A lot of them will create all of this “fancy” health food. Ok, so it has no gluten and pasteurized dairy in it, so it’s healthy right? Well, be your own judge; but I don’t believe that mixing all kinds of flours, fruits, nuts, and meats with a side of starchy vegetables constitutes something to be eating on a regular basis. I DO understand. We are all human. Being human is enjoying culinary delights. I enjoy it as much as the next person. So figure out how to combine your foods and eating styles into something that you can live with. If you are bored with eating, that is not a good thing =) If fairly simple eating suits you fine; GO FOR IT.