What’s food combining?
Okay listen..to put it lightly, I know this topic isn’t believed by all in the wellness world because many experts say there’s no science to back up that food combining actually works…that there’s even such a thing as food combining! And with all due respect, I get it. But this is one topic that has been such a game changer for me in optimizing my overall health, especially the and gut. So we wanted to break down a few simple principles that you can easily apply and experiment with to see if it works for you. For example: it was kind of the same situation for me with celery juice. There are a lot of claims that there isn’t any science behind the healing properties of drinking celery juice alone, however I experienced massive benefits such as: reduced inflammation, (especially during pre and post pregnancy) clearer skin, and increased energy levels (info found here).
So when it comes to food combining, I want you to try it on for yourself and experiment with it because even though some people believe this isn’t actually a thing…I totally believe the opposite. Food combining has:
- improved digestion and gut health
- reduced acne breakouts
- strengthened hair
- raised overall energy
- And I swear it’s reversing the aging process for me.
As a team, we’re big believers in food combining, and let me tell you when we don’t, things are rippin’ and roarin’ if ya know what I mean. But don’t just take our word for it, read on for the full breakdown from an expert in this field and my 3 step approach to following food combining principles.
More Technical Definition of Food Combining
The concept of food combining is based on the premise that fruit, starches, and proteins take different amounts of time to digest in our systems. Because all foods digest at different rates, using different enzymes, it’s important to understand which combinations are optimal for digestive health.
Proper food combining allows you to digest food in the most efficient way. Improper food combining has been known to cause bloating, gas, weight gain, and can eventually accelerate the process of aging. At least for me it has. I shared some throwback photos recently and you said it – not me!
New York Times bestselling author of the Beauty Detox Solution, nutritionist, and food combining expert, Kimberly Snyder, breaks it down in an easy to understand way. She explains on her blog, Solluna, that “when foods combine well, the digestion process goes a lot smoother, and your body is better equipped to absorb key nutrients while eliminating toxic waste.” When less energy is spent having to digest what you’re eating, it frees up energy, which makes losing weight easier and helps smooth the aging process.
Certain charts go very in depth with the combination of every food, which I find to be overwhelming. Below is my simplified approach to food combining. I like to break this down into 3 digestible ways (pun very intended).
My 3 Food Combining Principles
1. Fruit on an empty stomach in the AM.
Fruit is one of the purest foods you can give your body in the morning. It technically digests anywhere from 20-45 minutes depending on the fruit. The word “breakfast” broken down literally means “breaking fast.” You want to break your fast from sleeping with foods that are easiest to digest, thinking of it as starting your day on a light note and then slowly building to heavier meals. Fruit is optimal in the morning for this reason. I eat bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, sometimes plums…whatever fruit my body is craving. 3 great options for breakfast I choose between are:
2. Starches pair great with all vegetables
We don’t want anyone to be confused: we use the word “starch” and “carbohydrate” interchangeably. We refer to grains (like quinoa, oats, and brown rice) and starchy vegetables (like squash and potatoes) as starches. They take approximately 3-4 hours to digest and require an alkaline environment to be digested. Starches pair great with all vegetables because veggies are neutral and always promote an alkaline state. Studies have shown that this is the environment our bodies flourish in (info found here). A great starchy dinner would be my veggie stir-fry or my quinoa stir-fry.
3. Proteins pair great with non starchy vegetables and leafy greens
Proteins roughly digest in 4-6 hours. When you eat a protein an acidic enzyme is needed to digest it (whereas an alkaline one is needed for a starch). When acidic and alkaline enzymes come together, a neutral environment is created. In this neutral environment, Kimberly Snyder states, “The digestion of carbohydrates is interfered with by the presence of the acidic digestive juices, and at the same time the proteins are prevented from digesting properly or completely in the presence of the alkaline digestive juices” (The Beauty Detox 43). So this is why proteins are suggested to be paired together with non starchy vegetables and leafy greens. For example, I have a chart below to help you visualize. If you consume animal products, fish, for example, pairs optimally with collard greens, cauliflower or broccoli.
So what happens when a protein and starch are eaten together?
The food just sits there. Then, it begins to putrefy (a pretty word for rot) in your gut. This rotting then creates an acidic environment in your body and eventually turns into a breeding ground for fungus, bacteria, yeast…it’s not cute guys! And it’s how a lot of conditions like leaky gut, SIBO, and candida can begin.
“Since the food is not breaking down naturally, what do our poor glands do next? Our stomach has to secrete more digestive juices to try to break down the food, but because there are still opposing digestive enzymes at work, they are neutralized again and again” (44). Ever feel tired after eating? It’s because “This inefficient digestive process takes hours, costing us copious amounts of Beauty Energy. We immediately get tired after eating because all our energy is going right into our bellies” (44). Instead of feeling groggy, by pairing proteins with non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens, you’ll have a surplus of energy instead.
For food combining purposes, nuts, seeds, all animal products, and tofu fall under the protein category. Corns, grains, beans (green, lima, pinto, black, chickpeas), rice, squash, potatoes, and legumes fall under the starch category.
To recap and always remember: It’s important to know that this isn’t a diet. It’s a way of understanding how the digestive system works to optimize your health while looking and feeling great in the process! But, we’re obviously not doctors over here, so always consult with yours before making any lifestyle changes.
Like I always say: take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. The benefits I’ve experienced are just insane, but of course, to each their own. And look, I’m not the creator of this. This is something that has added so much value to me. So, just go with your gut 😉