FOOD COMBINING. What is that?
Food combining is an ancient technique. It is really pretty simple. How do we get healthy? We follow nature. We follow what our ancestors did for thousands of years. Enter food combining. The “Modern Paleo” movement needs this one big time =) Mixing walnuts, carrots, eggs, oil, “nut flour,” maple syrup, raw honey, and butter may TASTE DELICIOUS. The principle is that different foods take different times to digest and require separate digestive processes than others. For example; a potato takes a different type of digestive enzymes than a steak. A piece of fruit is different from either of them. Let’s look at a typical “meal” at Olive Garden. I have nothing against Olive Garden. It is delicious in fact. Following are some meals other animals or our ancestors may have eaten.
OLIVE GARDEN FOOD COMBINING: Salad, bread sticks, and soup for appetizers. A course of baked salmon with bruschetta bread. Finished off by a desert tart made with fruit. All the while slugging down water, coke, or tea.
Is this a normal way to eat? Is it feasting and is it fun? Sure it is. The point here is not to remove all our days of extravagance. It is to improve our health over time by following these simple guidelines “most of the time.” So what are these guidelines? What is the best way to eat for energy, digestion, and health? We are all different. We have different digestive strengths and weaknesses. Things are also determined by the health of our bodies. There are some simple rules that everybody can achieve success with. Let’s take a look. This is in order of time it takes to digest.
WATER/JUICE: There really is no digestion time here. How quickly can your body absorb the liquid? Usually about fifteen minutes or so with water. You may give yourself a little extra time with juice. Drinking liquids fifteen minutes before meals is great. Drinking a lot WITH your meals is not so great. A lot of liquid dilutes your own digestive enzymes and makes it harder to assimilate your food.
FRUIT: This is probably the biggest one. Fruit digests very quickly. In a healthy body maybe half an hour to an hour. Especially the good kind. Juicy, plump, and soft. So what happens when we eat fruit after other things? It ferments. It gets slowed down. All the sugar stays behind. It is generally best to eat fruit early in the day before we have eaten too much. Eating fruit 2-3 hours after a meal is ok too. The main idea? Have an empty stomach with fruit. I will admit this guideline makes me sad because this man loves trail mix =)
PROTEIN/STARCH: Protein requires an acidic medium to break down. Heavy carbohydrates a different one. What is the result? Unfortunately, our favorite foods go out the window. Steak and potatoes. Burgers and fries. Pizza. Wings and beer. Mixing these types of food is generally not a great idea. Protein is fine to eat with non-starchy vegetables. Things like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, tomatoes, summer squash, etc. Stewing foods or crock-pot meals tend to blend the lines here. “The foods tend to work out their differences in the pot,” was a line from a book “Healing With Whole Foods.” This is why crock-pot meals are so tasty =) Starches mix well with non-starchy vegetables and fats as well. Soups are a great way eat most things together.
MONO-MEALS?: What is a mono-meal you say? Basically, just what it sounds like. A mono-meal is eating one thing for a meal. This is imitating nature at it’s best. Look around. All the other animals tend to eat ONE thing at a time. There are no three-course dishes out there unfortunately. This is something to be eased into. Mono-meals is a completely different style of eating than most of us are accustomed to. So what are some examples of mono-meals? A bowl of blueberries. An avocado. 1/3 pound of juicy lamb. A big bowl of broccoli, zucchini, or peas. Are mono-meals always needed? I think it is a great thing to ease into. Often times, mixing foods can actually HELP digestion. What are some examples of this? Adding healthy fats or broth with cooked meats will aid in digestion. Using herbs with meals will often help as well. Adding healthy fat to vegetables is great.
So in the end, we are all different. We are working with different equipment. The best analogy? Think of your body as a conveyor belt. What happens when something quick-moving gets stuck behind something slow-moving? Traffic jams result. Try to let your workers process the food you just ate before moving on to something else. They need different “tools” for different jobs. The way we eat in this country puts enormous stress on the entire person. Let’s make our jobs a little easier and start implementing FOOD-COMBINING into our lives. Oh, and don’t forget to break the rules every now and then =)