Hi Three to Five Tribe! I recently learned about a new way of eating called food combining. Don’t worry, I am not adopting yet another new way of eating, but it is something I am considering when eating certain foods. Here’s why.
Food combining theory comes from the Ayurveda tradition, a traditional system of medicine originating in India. Ayurveda places a large emphasis on digestion and believes all foods are characterized based on their digestive effect, potency and taste. Food combining is based on the belief that eating certain foods together at the same meal can improve digestion and boost the absorption of nutrients. It also implies that the improper pairing of foods during a meal can lead to gas and bloating. When foods with differing characteristics are eaten together, it’s said that toxins can form in the body, but that those same foods can be more easily digested when eaten separately. (Crazy, right?!)
In food combining, foods are placed in four separate categories: fruit, low and non-starchy vegetables, protein and starches/carbohydrates. Fruit and protein foods are pretty obvious, but low and non starchy vegetables include: asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leafy greens, mushrooms, onions and peppers. Starches and carbohydrates include the following: breads, cereals, grains, pastas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and winter squash (acorn squash, butternut, spaghetti squash, etc).
Based on these four categories, the basic rules of food combining are as follows:
Foods that can be eaten together:
- Protein + non-starchy vegetables
- Starches + non-starchy vegetables
Foods that shouldn’t be eaten together:
- Protein and other proteins
- Protein and starches
Foods that should be eaten separately:
- Dairy foods, including cow’s milk
- Fruits (especially melons): At least 20 minutes before a meal or on an empty stomach.
The Traditional Ayurvedic diet places a high emphasis on mindfulness when eating. Eating foods in separate groups, as you would with food combining, may help you think through your food choices and how much of a food you are putting in your body.
Although I am not food combining at every meal, the guidelines of food combining have helped me alleviate digestive upset I experienced when eating certain foods. (I originally thought I needed to begin practicing a low-FODMAP diet, but once I started eating certain foods (like fruit) hours in between meals instead of directly after meals, I have noticed a complete difference in how my body processes these foods.
The next time you are preparing a plate, consider food combining.
Food combining three to five meals a week,