You are what you eat. But, it’s not just what foods you eat. The combination of foods is also important. Read on and learn how pairing certain foods can have a huge impact on how your health, well being and waistline.
Do you always feel bloated after eating? Do you feel sluggish or heavy after a meal? Does your gut generally feel uncomfortable? Are you having a hard time losing excess weight?
If you answer to most of these questions is yes, you may have been eating your meals wrong. What does this mean? The truth is many people do feel discomfort, bloated and sluggish after a meal. We think that it’s normal when, in fact, it isn’t.
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 functions in the human body? This is why, when your body’s digestive system isn’t functioning at its optimum, it affects your entire being.
We want to be able to digest food as quickly and efficiently as possible. The combination of foods you eat during your meals has a big impact on your digestion.
Food combining is a little-known secret for promoting gut health and improving your digestion. It provides your body with the right fuel and energy and can also help you lose weight more effectively. Following these principles can help with your gut health tremendously.
The idea behind food combining is that certain foods pair well together while others do not. This is because different foods digest at different rates in our body and require different digestive environments.
So, food combining is all about eating or not eating set foods together in the same sitting in order to achieve optimal digestion. This principle is not about restricting food itself. Rather, it is knowing how to choose what foods to eat in a single meal.
A short look at digestion
Now, before we get into the guidelines of food combining let’s first understand how digestion works in our body. Let’s look at acid and alkaline enzymes which are responsible for digesting the food we eat and let’s look at protein vs. carbs.
Protein requires an acidic environment with acidic digestive enzymes to digest. Carbs, on the other hand, require an alkaline environment with alkaline enzymes.
Your typical diet pairs meat and starchy carbs together in one meal. For example, you might enjoy a piece of steak together with potatoes or chicken with rice. However, protein and carbs have opposite digestive requirements and eating them together causes your body to release both acid and alkaline solutions.
These will neutralize each other, which can slow digestion and cause post meal sluggishness or bloating. This is because your body is using more energy for digestion.
Simple food pairing principles
As you might have guessed, combining protein and carbs in one meal may not be the best idea for optimal digestion. The same goes for certain other food combinations. Understanding food combining principles can help support the health of your entire gut as well as boost your energy and promote weight loss.
Here are some really simple food pairing principles:
1: Do not combine protein with starch in a meal
As mentioned, in order to be digested protein needs an acidic environment. This is why it is considered a bad combination to eat protein with starch in a meal.
Instead, consume protein with non starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, celery, bell peppers or onions. These vegetables are rich in their own enzymes. Because of that they don’t need an alkaline environment for digestion and they won’t interfere with the acidic environment required by protein. This principle also applies to plant proteins such as beans and legumes.
Here’s what a good combination would look like:
- salmon with broccoli and carrots
- chicken with kale and cauliflower
- tofu with bell peppers onions and celery
2: Pair starch with healthy fats and non starchy vegetables
Starches such as brown rice, quinoa and barley along with starchy vegetables such as sweet potato, corn, and squash need an alkaline environment for digestion.
So, this is what a good food combination would look like:
- baked potato with avocado and stir-fried vegetables
- quinoa and pumpkin with nuts, seeds, leafy greens and cherry tomatoes
- brown rice and stir fried vegetables cooked with coconut oil
You may have noticed that leafy greens and non starchy vegetables go well with everything. They contain their own digestive enzymes. This means they can be paired with any food without causing a traffic jam in your GI tract.
If you’re feeling confused with these food combining rules, simply choose a single macronutrient – whether it’s protein, starch or healthy fats – with leafy greens or non starchy vegetables. It’s as easy as that!
3: Eat fruits alone
Fruit contains 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 can create chaos in your GI tract due to the different amounts of time needed for these foods to be digested. That is why it’s also best to avoid eating fruits right after meals.
Since fruits digest faster than any other food they are best eaten alone, so that they do not have the chance to ferment. Fermentation in your GI tract will make you feel bloated and gassy.
4: Avoid drinking water together with your meals
The final important guideline is to avoid drinking water together with your meals. Water can dilute your digestive fluids which can slow down digestion. It can make you feel bloated and even cause stomach pain. If you really need drink during your meal, take small sips… not big gulps.
What you can do, especially if you’re looking to lose weight, is drink a large glass of water about 30 minutes before your meal. Research has shown that this will help you feel satiated and eat less during your meal. A good thing if you want to shed some pounds.
You can also add your digestion by adding some freshly squeezed lemon to the water. Lemon contains ascorbic acid which can help stimulate digestion. This is also a great drink to consume first thing in the morning before breakfast.
If you are someone who has an extra sensitive gut and often feel bloated, gassy, constipated or experience extreme stomach discomfort, then give these simpel food pairing tips a try. They can not only help improve your digestion but also increase your energy levels, improve absorption of nutrients and also help with weight loss.
So, the next time you experience digestive distress just take a look at your plate and see if you might be combining the wrong foods together. Try using these principles and start to take a note on how your body reacts and feels. This might just be your magical solution to a better digestion, healthy well-being and a slimmer waistline.