“Food combining” is the theory of combining different food groups like proteins, fats, carbs, dairy and fruit so that your digestive system does the best job it can to fully digest and absorb the food you eat for maximum nourishment and energy.
Personally, I have been loosely following these principles for many years, and I can testify to the beneficial effects they have on my digestion. Every gut is different, however, and following these rules strictly can be difficult or inappropriate for your metabolism, so I recommend finding out what rules work for you.
It is encouraging to note that a new awareness of healthy food combining is resurfacing. An article in the March 2015 issue of Marie Claire, a fashion magazine, recounts the history, theory, and rising popularity of sequencing the foods we consume for both nutrition and weight loss.
The information below from my own experience as well as referenced from the book Food Combining: A Step by Step Guide, by Kathryn Marsden.
The simplest way to remember the rules for combining food groups is this:
- Proteins combine BEST with vegetables.
- Carbs combine BEST with vegetables.
- Fats combine OK with three other groups (proteins, veggies, and carbs).
- Fruits DON’T combine, especially melons. Otherwise fruits can be mixed with other fruits.
- Dairy is a bit trickier. If you can tolerate it and want to consume dairy products, do this:
- Fatty cheeses with carbs like grains. This is not ideal again, so if it upsets you, don’t do it, but I am bending the rules a little.
- Lean cheese with veggies.
- Low fat yogurt with fruit (not melon, though) to slow the sugar absorption.
To clarify what these food groups are:
- Proteins: meat, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy and soy products.
- Dairy: high in protein and fats and often counts as protein or fat, depending on how it’s processed. If in doubt, refer to nutrition labels on food packaging.
- Carbohydrates: a large group including all grains, beans, legumes (lentils, peanuts, peas); and starches (root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, sweet potatoes).
- Sugar is a refined carb. I will NOT include it here because it has no nutritional value (I will get into the subject of sugar in a later newsletter).
- Mostly, stick to complex carbs like brown rice and other whole grains. Their energy content gets absorbed much more gradually.
- Fats: include unsaturated fats, an essential nutrient (nuts, most plant derived fats and oils and fish oils), saturated fats you should limit or avoid (animal fat, whether from dairy or meat, trans-fats).
- Vegetables: all green, leafy vegetables, too numerous to list.
- Fruits: Again, too numerous to list. They are the most quickly digested group.
To implement these digestion rules just think: meat with veggies; carbs with veggies. Fats in moderation with anything but fruit. Fruit by itself. Generally, foods from each group are best eaten by themselves.
So next time you eat out, pass on the fruit side dish. Order a salad and the meat with veggies only. Pass on the bread unless you have only a salad or a vegetarian dish.
Your belly and waistline will thank you.
Please Note: Only a registered dietician, nutritionist, or qualified medical professional can recommend a diet for you. This article is intended for information purposes only.