Just ask yourself these questions:
– Do you always feel bloated after eating?
– Do you feel sluggish or heavy after a meal?
– Do you generally feel uncomfortable?
If you answer YES to most of them, well YOU HAVE BEEN EATING YOUR MEALS WRONG! What do I mean by that?
The truth is, many of us, do feel discomfort, bloated and sluggish after a meal, and we think that it’s normal, BUT in fact is it NOT normal. When you eat your meals correctly, you should feel energized instead of sluggish.
Did you know that digesting food requires more energy than any other function in the human body? Hence, when your body’s digestive system isn’t functioning at its optimum, it affects our entire being. We want to be able to digest the food as quick and efficient as possible.
Let me share a secret with you that could potentially change the way you eat and feel, it’s the principle of “Food Combining”. “Food combining” is the little secret for promoting gut health and improving digestion. This provides your body with the right fuel and energy and can also help with weight loss.
As much as I can, I try to follow this method and it has helped my gut health tremendously.
The idea behind ‘food combining’ is that certain foods pair well together, while others do not, as different foods digest at different rates in our body and require different digestive environments. So “food combining” refers to eating or not eating certain foods together in the same sitting in order to achieve optimal digestion.
This principle it’s not about restricting food itself, but rather, it is the awareness of knowing how to choose and what to eat in a single meal.
Acid and Alkaline Enzymes in our body
Before we get into the guidelines of “food combining”, let’s first understand how digestion works in our body. Let’s talk about acid and alkaline enzymes, which are responsible to aid our body to digest the food we eat.
Let’s look at Protein VS Carbs. Protein requires an acidic environment to digest with acidic digestive enzyme whereas carbohydrates require an alkaline environment with alkaline enzyme.
If you eat standard diet, you typically pair meat and starch in one meal. For example, you might enjoy a piece of steak (protein), with potatoes (carbs). Or you may enjoy chicken (protein) with rice (carbs).
Protein and carbs have opposite digestive requirements, and eating them together causes your body to release both acid and alkaline solutions. The acid and alkaline solutions will neutralize each other, which can slow down digestion and cause post-meal sluggishness or bloating. This is because your body is using up more digestive energy than needed.
Understanding “food combining” principles can help support the health of your entire gut.
5 Simple Food Combining Guidelines
1) Do NOT Combine Protein with Starch in a Meal
As you now know, in order to be digested, protein needs an acidic environment, which is why it’s considered a bad food combination to eat protein with starches in a meal.
Instead, consume protein with non-starchy vegetables such as leafy green, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, celery, bell peppers, onions and more.
These vegetables are rich in their own enzymes, hence they don’t need an alkaline environment for digestion. And because of that, they won’t interfere with the acidic environment required by protein.
This principle also applies to plant proteins such as beans and legumes. So here’s what a good combination would look like.
– Wild salmon + broccoli + carrot
– Chicken + sautéed kale + mashed cauliflower
– Tofu + sautéed bell peppers, onions and celery
2) Pair Starches with Healthy Fats & Non-Starchy Vegetables
Starches such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, along with starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, corn, squashes, need an alkaline environment for digestion.
This is what a good combination would look like.
– Baked potato + Avocado + sautéed broccoli, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes and mushroom.
– Quinoa + pumpkin + leafy greens + cherry tomatoes + nuts & seeds
– Brown rice bowl + sauteed veggies
3) Leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables go with everything
You would know by know that leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables go well with everything. They contain their own digestive enzymes, hence can be paired with any food without causing traffic jam in your GI tract.
If you’re totally confused with the food combining rules, to keep it simple, choose to eat a single macronutrient, whether it’s a protein, starch or healthy fat, with leafy greens or non-starchy vegetables.
4) Eat fruits alone
Fruit is a simple sugar that digests very rapidly, in roughly 20 to 30 minutes whereas protein for example, can take between 3 to 4 hours to digest. If you combine fruits and protein in a single meal, it will create a gastrointestinal (GI) tract traffic jam because of the different time for the food to be digested. That’s why it’s also best to avoid eating fruit right after meals.
Since fruit digests faster than any other food, it’s best eaten alone so that it doesn’t have the chance to ferment. As I mentioned earlier, fermentation in your GI tract will make you feel bloated and gassy. So, it’s best to consume fruits alone!
5) Drink Plenty of Water, but NOT with Your Meals
The final important guideline is to avoid drinking large sips of water with your meals. Water can dilute your digestive fluids, which can slow down digestion. Before knowing this, I used to drink lots of water with my meals and would feel extremely bloated and even experience stomach pain.
If you need to, have small sips of water with your meals and try to drink water away from meals. You can also aid your digestive by drinking a glass of lemon water roughly 20 – 30 minutes before a meal. Lemon contains ascorbic acid, which can help stimulate digestion. I drink lemon water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
There isn’t enough sufficient research to back the “food combining” principles. The reason why I’m sharing this with you is because it has worked for me. I’m someone who has extremely sensitive guts and even a small trigger can cause me to feel bloated, gassy, constipated and experience extreme stomach discomfort.
The goal of food combining is to improve your digestion, increase your energy levels, improve the absorption of nutrients and it can also help with weight loss.
Should you try this? Well the next time you experience digestive distress, just take a look at your plate and see if you’re combining the wrong foods together.
Try to apply these principles, and start to take note on how your body reacts and feel. Perhaps this might just be the magical solution to a healthier well-being.