That One Time I Tried Food Combining
I am generally not a big fan of any sort of diet or eating-style trend. I didn’t hop on the keto train and I generally just eat what works for me. So when I heard about food combining I thought it sounded like more of the same. But when I learned the idea behind it and realized how similar it was to how I already ate, I thought I would give it a go and see how I felt. Well, I tried it, I liked it, and by the end of this post you will know why it worked for me, and whether it might work for you!
How Food Combining Works
First off, what do I even mean when I say “food combining”?? Well, food combining first appeared in Ayurvedic medicine of ancient India and the basic idea is that eating certain foods together optimizes digestion. Digesting your food takes a lot of energy and some foods use different enzymes to break down, meaning that when you feel bloated or sluggish after meals it might be because you are eating foods that don’t digest well together.
This way of eating is not exactly a “diet” although many people have critiqued it to be ‘just another fad diet’. Instead, it is just some basic rules for eating that lead to easier digestion. The basic rules (taken from Kenzie Burke) are as follows:
> Fruit First: Start your day with fruit (eaten by itself) because fruits only take around 30 minutes to fully digest. Making them the fastest-digesting food group.
> Pick either a starch OR a protein for each meal. Starches require an alkaline to break down while proteins require an acid. This is why eating pasta with chicken can make you feel bloated or sluggish.
> Make sure every meal has at least half of your plate full of veggies! Vegetables optimize digestion and are “neutral” foods. Meaning they can be digested with either a starch or a protein.
There are also plenty of neutral foods (all kinds of oil, lemons, beets, cauliflower, butter, nut milks, and many more) that can be added to a meal with either starch or protein.
Why I Tried Food Combining
I first heard about this way of eating from The Skinny Confidential podcast when they interviewed Kenzie Burke, a big food-combining advocate and a graduate of the Institute of Integrated Nutrition. At first it sounded a little hokey. HOWEVER. As someone who has struggled with bloat for so long, I thought it could be fun to give it a try. I already do intermittent fasting so adding fruit into my mornings wouldn’t be a big change. And there were so many delicious meal options I could think of that I didn’t think it would be too difficult.
I really don’t love the idea of restricting my eating. So when I read through the basic rules, I liked how it included all the food groups, allowed snacking, and there were no “counts” or “measurements” for any of the meals. I tried it, and here are my thoughts….
Why Food Combining Worked For Me
Food combining makes me feel lighter, less bloated, and I love the meals I eat. My day-to-day eating might look something like: coffee and water in the mornings // green smoothie (frozen fruit, banana, spinach, and cashew milk) // Veggie wrap with avocado and hummus for lunch // carrots for a snack // stir fry on rice for dinner or one of my favourite salads. I eat big portions and snack on veggies throughout the day. It really works for me and I think I know why.
I already don’t love eating breakfast so eating light to heavy throughout the day feels good to me. I also really love meals with lots of vegetables and greens, so that feels pretty intuitive to me as well. But the biggest reason this eating style feels good? I don’t sweat if I don’t follow it perfectly. I eat pizza and burritos, and fruit after dinner sometimes. It is important to eat what feels good. And this eating style really encourages me to eat plenty of greens and fresh foods – which feels good. But I don’t get upset if I don’t follow it. It’s more of a general guide rather than a strict diet.
How to Get Started
Maybe you are looking for a fun new way to put meals together, maybe you already are not a big breakfast fan and you like the idea of starting your day with fruit. If you feel like trying to make sure half your plate is filled with veggies, or you also struggle with bloat, this could be a fun eating style to try.
I recommend starting with the fruit for breakfast and eating “food combining” style for lunch. Then see if that feels good for your body and lifestyle! If not, no sweat. That is the beauty of experimenting with food and movement and figuring out what feels good to you: you get to try things and then just leave behind what doesn’t work.
If nothing else, food combining made me more aware of what I put in my body and I tuned in to what felt good and what didn’t. That is my biggest takeaway and a big step in this journey towards a healthier lifestyle. For more insights into recipes, movement, and creating your healthiest self, subscribe to my weekly newsletter. Every Tuesday I send an email packed with tips and thoughts around being your healthiest, wealthiest self. Hope to see you there!