The basics of food combining
If you find yourself often dealing with digestive distress after a meal, I encourage you to explore food combining to support easier digestion. The principles are relatively simple and they allow you to practice more mindful eating. Sometimes we may feel that a particular food causes indigestion and discomfort, when it may actually be the combination of foods eaten together that leads to these conditions.
1) Eat fruit alone and on an empty stomach. While we love the thought of eating fruit as a healthy dessert after a meal, fruit digests fairly quickly while the foods in a typical meal do not. Adding fruit on top of a full stomach means the fruit’s sugars will be processed more quickly than the rest of the meal allowing the fruit to ferment in the stomach leading to gas and bloating. Lemons, limes, and sour fruits can be combined with other foods because of their limited sugar content.
2) Eat lean proteins with non-starchy vegetables. Eating starchy vegetables or grains with proteins can inhibit the digestive process because each food type requires different enzymes for digestion. Eating both of these types of foods at the same time can neutralize the conditions in the body inhibiting smooth digestion from occurring.
3) Eat grains and starchy vegetables with non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables can be digested in most environments and they go with everything. Grains examples include: brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats, amaranth, wheat. Starchy vegetables include: potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, beans, peas, artichokes.
4) Eat small amounts of healthy oils with anything– this includes olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and grape seed oil. These oils can be used for cooking foods or drizzled on top- they help to move foods through the digestive tract.
5) Eat avocado, nuts, seeds, with non-starchy vegetables. Nuts and seeds contain (like beans) are coated with physic acid which makes digestion difficult. Soaking raw nuts overnight can help support better digestion by breaking down the physic acid.
6) Eat beans, peas, legumes with non-starchy vegetables. Beans and legumes are very starchy and difficult to digest which is why they are a great source of fiber! However, they should only be combined with easy-to-digest foods like non-starchy vegetables.
The big takeaway here is that non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, are easy for the body to digest, can be eaten with anything, and should be eaten often.
Try following these principals for one week and see if you notice a difference in how you feel after a meal or snack.
This is one of my favorite Indian dishes to make because you can use everything in your spice rack. Beans pair well with non-starchy vegetables to ease digestion. And the combination of fiber, protein, and healthy fat in this dish leaves you satisfied without feeling uncomfortable.
- 1/2 cup dried chickpeas
- 2 cups greens (spinach, kale, chard)
- 1 small head of cauliflower
- 3 T olive oil
- 1 T fresh lemon juice
- 1 small yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 T chopped, fresh cilantro
- 1 t cumin
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 T curry powder
- 1 t turmeric
- 2 t cinnamon
- 1 t coriander
- 1 t freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 t cardamom
- 1/2 t ground cloves
- 1/2 t nutmeg
Add oil, onion, garlic, and spices to a large skillet. Sautee 3-4 minutes. Add chickpeas, water, lemon juice, and cauliflower. Simmer 10 minutes. Add greens and cilantro and simmer additional 10-20 minutes until cauliflower is soft.