Food Combining 101

Basics of a Healthy Digestion

Recently, I wrote an article for Mind Body Green on food combining  10 worst food combinations that can wreak havoc on your health. The response was overwhelming with over 2 thousand people liking the article on facebook. If you haven’t read it, please check it out, it’s a fun read!

Since then, I was getting quite a few emails, comments, and fb messages regarding food combining rules and specifically, how strict do we need to stick to these dire rules. Some people see food combining as a potentially beneficial but a very challenging undertaking, others bluntly, disagree that traditional dishes like fruit and yogurt or tomatoes and cheese can cause any digestion difficulties.

If you are wondering whether food combing is something that you can benefit from and where to start with it, here is a quick guide.

Why food combining is important:

  • We need different enzymes to digest card, proteins, and fats
  • Some foods take a lot longer to digest than others. If you eat slow-to-digest and fast-to-digest foods together, the faster-digesting food will have to sit and wait for the slower one fermenting and petrifying.
  • Eating easy-to-digest food combinations frees up a lot of energy resources that can be used for other purposes besides digestion (healing, workouts, dancing, having fun!)

Benefits of good food combining include:

  • Improved energy levels
  • Healthy weight loss if your body needs it
  • Better skin
  • Better absorption of nutrients
  • Reduction of bloating and gas
  • More regular elimination

If you feel like your energy level is not high enough, if acne is a persistent problem, or if your stomach is bloated/constipated/gassy after meals, food combinations is one of the easiest things to experiment with since it does not forbid any food groups and there are no severe detox symptoms.

There are very few rules that are applicable to everyone. The more I study and work with my clients, the less I believe there is one thing that works for everyone, we are too unique! All diets and advice have to be individualized! Food combining is no exception. While the theory says one thing, your body might say something completely different.

Ayurveda is a little more forgiving when it comes to food combining than natural hygienists. Take a look at this traditional natural hygienist food combining rules. In Ayurveda balanced wholesome meals are given preference. An ayurvedically balanced meals include 6 tastes to provide nourishment to all bodily tissues and include whole grains, vegetables and easy to digest proteins. Natural hygienists would advise having carbs separately from proteins, and would not approve of an ayurvedic tradition to add ghee to freshly baked chapattis.

There are some food combining rules that every theory agrees on:

  • Dairy should not be combined with pretty much anything besides greens and non starchy vegetables. Baked goat cheese on veggies or salads is okay but no pizza, cream-based pasta sauces, dairy-based chowders are not recommended. When it comes to yogurt, add vanilla bean, honey but no jams or fruits.
  • Fruit should not be combined with anything because it digests a lot faster than most other things. Best to be eaten at least 20 mins before anything else. Grains with fruit, fruit and eggs, fruit and nuts, fruit after a meal are among the infamous no-no’s. The only exception is dates in milk or dried fruit boiled together with grains such as in oatmeal.
  • Have one concentrated protein per meal. This one is pretty simple: no fish and chicken, meat and shrimp, eggs and milk, cheese and beans on one plate.

The strictness level with which you choose to follow food combing rules depends on your current health, physical activity, stress level, the efficiency of your digestive system, and most of all, your goals.

Sticking to easy-to-digest food combinations is done primarily to reduce digestive un-ease and to reduce the energy consumption on digestion processes and therefore increase the energy resources of the body left to do other things besides dealing with a grumbling tummy. When you need energy to heal and recover, food combining is more important than during the times when you feel rested and healthy.

Is it okay to break rules sometimes? Yes!

If your digestion is strong, you feel healthy, and full of energy, it means your body has the resources to deal with slightly more difficult food combos. Following good food combinations is most beneficial for people with a weak digestion, Vata types, for those under severe stress, or those healing from a disease.If you are tired, sick, need more energy, it is good to use food combining.

Questions for you: What do you think? Would you use food combining when you are sick or tired and need to recover faster?

Happy Healthy Belly!


PS: If you want to learn more about ayurvedic food combining and to experience it for yourself, join the India ashram adventure this upcoming March. All the details here.

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