Do you ever experience indigestion, gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort after eating? Maybe you don’t feel these symptoms on a regular day to day basis, but how many holidays and special events do we have that leave us with abdominal discomfort? With Thanksgiving coming up this weekend, if we eat turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, etc, without expecting a few, if not all of these symptoms, you’re in for a surprise. You cannot expect your body to work optimally with that amount of food trying to digest all at once. Our bodies are made to be able to digest and use the food we eat for energy and nutrition. When we overload our digestive system our bodies are unable to keep up with us. As a result, we don’t absorb the vitamins and nutrients from our food, so we also experience uncomfortable pains and gasses. Our culture has forgotten a few simple things about food combining. Today I am going to talk about the importance of food combining to aid in better digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals.
I’m not suggesting everyone does food combining all the time, but for those who experience digestive issues, use food combining to decrease or eliminate the symptoms.
Food Combining Tips:
1. Eat Fruits Alone
As a general rule, fruits are the easiest to digest. Fruit should always be eaten alone (separate from meals). It is best to consume fruits throughout the day, as a snack, rather than with, or immediately following, a meal. ”Doing so is believed to delay their passage from the stomach and to subject them to an unwanted process of fermentation, allowing gas to go through the intestines. Pineapples and papayas are the exception. They contain digestive enzymes (bromelain and papain) that aid in breaking down and digesting meals higher in animal proteins. (ie. pineapple is often served with BBQ meats)
2. Vegetables With Everything:
All non-starchy vegetables can be eaten with any meal. They digest well with starches and proteins. Being naturally alkaline, vegetables will aid in keeping the body’s pH level more alkaline rather than acidic.
3. Starches Don’t Like Proteins & Fats:
Our bodies don’t digest carbohydrates and starches well when combined with high protein and fatty foods. It is recommended to keep protein and starches separate for optimal digestion. For those struggling with digestive issues, try to prepare meals that are either vegetable and protein or vegetable and starch. This will help your body digest better and leave you with less of those unpleasant side effects. (note: It is common to combine all three in one meal, but there are plenty of resources online that can help you think of tasty alternatives.)
4. Meals Without Water
Not drinking water with a meal is something that will aid in better digestion. When too much water is drunk with a meal, we dilute the intestinal digestive juices and put more stress on our digestive organs. That being said, most of us might find that it’s hard to break the habit of drinking water with food. Start by limiting the amount of water you drink with meals. Your digestion will actually improve if you drink small sips of lemon water during your meal. Rule of thumb: for optimal digestion, drink water 30 minutes before or after a meal.
5. Chew Your Food
How many of you actually chew your food before you swallow? Digestion starts in your mouth; yet, how often do we just take a huge bite, chew once or twice, then swallow? We inhale our food without chewing each bite carefully and then wonder why we are suddenly hit with a stomach ache 10 minutes into eating. Take time to chew. Try to put your utensil down between bites. You won’t end up eating as much and you might find that you enjoy your food more.
6. Leave Time to Digest
All food takes a certain amount of time to digest in your body. Pay attention to the amount of time it takes food to digest.
Water/Liquids: a few minutes
Fruits: 30 minutes - 1 hour
Vegetables: a little bit longer than fruits
Grains/starches: 2-5 hours
Proteins: 4-6 hours
Fats: delay the digestion process
Spices: accelerate the digestion process
7. Seasonal is Optimal
Eating food in season is a great way to ensure the quality of your food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Different climates and seasons have varying effects on your body; therefore, you should eat accordingly. People tend to eat lighter, “cooling” foods, such as fresh salads and fruit smoothies, in the spring and summer. In the fall and winter, people tend to eat more “warming” foods, such as vegetable stews, hearty soups and whole grains.
See you next week!