Food Combining Explained
Should I be adding grains to my smoothies?
If you’ve been reading about the benefits of green smoothies, you may have come across the term, food combining. For some reason green smoothies, raw food diets and food combining diets seem to go hand in hand. So it’s no wonder that I get asked this question more than any other question:
How do Green Thickies fit with Food Combining?
So if you’re not sure, I better start by explaining exactly what food combining is.
What is food combining?
Food combining is a way of eating to enable food to be digested as easily as possible. Basically if you eat the following list of foods in the order they are listed, it is much easier on your digestion. The food at the start of the list are digested faster so should be eaten first in the day:
- Fruit Juice
- Leafy Greens
- Meat/ Dairy/ Eggs/ Fatty foods and most processed foods
Food Combining Rules
There are several rules to be followed if you stick by a food combination diet, these are:
- Separate concentrated proteins like meat, fish and eggs, from starches like bread, potatoes and rice.
- Avoid meals that combine multiple concentrated proteins, such as fish and cheese, meat and milk, or meat and eggs.
- Separate starches and acids at mealtime, avoiding combinations like cereal and orange juice, or rice with a vinegar dish.
- Avoid meals that combine concentrated proteins and acidic dishes.
- Separate concentrated proteins and fatty foods when possible.
- Combining proteins and sugars together in the same meal should be avoided.
- Eat sugars and starches separately.
- Consume melons alone or not at all.
- Raw milk is to be taken by itself, or not at all.
- Sweet, starchy desserts, as well a sweet fruits should not be consumed within a few of hours after large meals containing carbohydrates or concentrated proteins.
As you can see, this is quite a rigid and complex set of instructions. So what is the point of following a food combination diet?
Benefits of food combining
There are several benefits of food combining such as:
- Better digestion
- Increased energy
- Lower toxicity levels: Fruit doesn’t start to ferment when it gets ‘stuck’ behind slower to digest foods.
- May help you lose weight
When I was on a raw food diet I did follow food combining principals as I was trying to heal my body and was very aware of what did and didn’t agree with me as I ate very simply. I would generally start the day with watermelon or orange juice, then progress on to green smoothies made of only fruit and greens. Then I would eat more fruit and a simple salad with avocado for dinner. Whenever I ate whole nuts and seeds with dried fruit I usually had digestion problems so I avoided these most of the time. I generally had extremely good digestion eating this way. I think a food combination diet is great for people who have problems with their digestion and it is much easier to stick to on a raw food diet, but much harder on other types of diets. I did also lose a lot of weight but I’ve never attributed that to food combining.
Some people say that we naturally should be eating things separately and animals in nature ‘mono eat’ just eating one type of food before moving on to another type of meal. Combining too many types of foods together can be problematic for those with sensitive digestion.
Problems with following a food combining diet
Now that I eat a cooked vegan diet, I find it much harder to stick to the principals of food combining and I’m sure most people would agree it’s not very practical sticking to the rules. This is because we don’t just eat for health, we eat for taste, to experiment with recipes, for enjoyment and socialising too. I really enjoy cooking different meals and enjoy the flavour too so often will sacrifice a perfect digestion for the enjoyment of food.
These days I usually have a green thickie for breakfast, followed by a salad with carbs or soup for lunch, and a more complex cooked dinner. My digestion is pretty good all day but I do have digestive issues after my evening meal and because I throw so many different ingredients into my meals it’s hard to tell what’s causing the problem.
My main issue with food combining is that I just don’t have the time to eat all my foods separately.
Another problem I have with the ‘rules’ of food combining is that it assumes that foods are only carbs or only protein but there is so much overlap between foods. Most whole foods will contain a balance of carbs, proteins, fats and nutrients and it’s very difficult to determine which category some foods should fall into. So I wouldn’t want to even begin to apply a complex cooked diet to this methodology.
I think the bottom line is that if you have problems with your digestion or want a detox or to heal your body then it’s worthwhile just eating more simply. Eat a few different foods per day at different times and see how they make you feel. We all have different bodies. Some people have cast iron digestion and can eat food in any combination and others have to watch every bite they put into their mouths to work out what’s making them feel so bad.
I still haven’t healed my own digestion so have to watch what I eat. For example I can’t eat fruit after a cooked meal as I’ll get awful stomach aches. I am also currently experimenting more with soaking grains before I eat them and this seems to be making a massive difference to me being able to tolerate grains I used to have to avoid such as wheat.
How do Green Thickies fit with food combining?
The simple answer is probably, THEY DON’T! They break several of the rules, so if you’re a strict food combiner, you’ll probably not want to drink Green Thickies.
For those who don’t know, A Green Thickie consists of liquid (water, milk or juice), fruit, greens, nuts/seeds, carbs (oats, quinoa) and healthy sweetener such as dates.
Like I said, I don’t follow strict food combining principals. I simply listen to my body and I would urge you to do the same. See if you can tolerate them. I would love to have stayed on a raw food diet but it’s not right for me at this stage of my life. So therefore I accept that my health and digestion isn’t going to be as good as it was on the raw food diet. However saying that Green Thickies actually digest perfectly for me. The couple of times when I have done the 7 Day Challenge, my digestion has been great, no problems whatsoever so I know that they are a great thing for me to eat personally.
I think for me, anything blended and pre-soaked makes a massive impact on my digestion. As a green thickie is well blended and I make them a day in advance, this gives the carbs and nuts/seeds a chance to soak and therefore break down making them easier to tolerate. Another thing I do which helps my digestion is to CHEW my smoothies. I know that sounds weird as you don’t need to chew a drink. But technically it’s a food and chewing gives a signal to the stomach to start producing stomach acids. So if you chew your smoothie you will also find it easier to digest.
Some people have told me they digest Green Thickies perfectly and others have problems, but every body is different. Listen to your own body, and if you have problems and need healing then I would suggest just keeping things simple. Just eat one food for a day that you can tolerate. The next day add a different one and continue like that. Then you will work out what agrees with you. If you avoid foods that don’t agree with you for a period of time, you may be able to introduce them back at some stage. I am still a work in progress in that area, but I’m going to do some more detoxing a while after my baby is born. My pregnant body is extremely good at telling me what foods I can tolerate and in what order as I get heartburn straight away if something hasn’t agreed with me.
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