Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Food Combining Part One: An Introduction

Have you ever heard of food combining? Long ago or lately, it’s a seriously sensible idea whose time is always coming, but never yet quite here. Strange, considering the very real, and almost instantaneous results one gets from practicing this age-old art and science.

I first became aware of food combining principles when I was a high school student exploring vegetarianism and raw food nutrition. Today it may seem hard to imagine, but back in the 1970’s, these dietary approaches were considered extremely radical by most people, my loving parents included (“What, give up meat? Preposterous!”), so there wasn’t much in the way of support or information to be found. However, by having the good fortune to come in contact, at age fifteen, with Viktoras Kulvinskas’ extraordinary raw food bible Survival Into the 21st Century and, soon after, Herbert M. Shelton’s 1940 booklet Food Combining Made Easy, I was exposed early on to the nuts and bolts of food combining.

And what kinds of nuts and bolts are these, you ask? (Or nuts and fruits, as the case may be?) Well, there are more than a few, but the basics are pretty simple.

The science of food combining holds that, first of all - and in most cases - fruits are best eaten alone, to help avoid their fermentation in the gut.

Food combining also requires that starches and proteins be eaten at separate meals, due to the different digestive enzyme environments (acidic vs alkaline) that these two macronutrient categories require. (Individually, both starches and proteins combine excellently with salads and low-starch vegetables such as onions, broccoli and kale.)

A third important food combining rule states that after eating a properly combined meal from any given category (i.e. fruit, starch or protein), one should wait a designated amount of time before eating any additional food (i.e. thirty minutes after a fruit meal, three hours after a starch meal and four hours after a protein combo) in order to allow the meal to pass completely out of the stomach - again, in order to prevent fermentation, incomplete digestion, gastric upset and other unwanted results.

As a young student of nutrition, I studied these basic guidelines, along with reams of more esoteric details, and strived to follow all to the letter. This lasted a short period, as I soon grew tired of the effort. (I guess at my age, there understandably were already too many confusing rules and “shoulds” in my life.) However, I did naturally incorporate and maintain some of the broader tenets, such as eating fruit separately from veggies, and generally applied certain other rules, often expressed in catchy slogans such as, “Eat milk alone or let it alone!” and my favorite, “Desert the desserts!”

So, that was my introduction to the art & science of food combining. This concludes Part One of this blog topic, as I must now return to planning my upcoming talk on the subject, to be held next Wednesday, October 15th at Green Fields Market!

Until next time, may you be blessed with radiant health,

Click here to read Part Two of this article.

1 comment:

glutenfreeforgood said...

Hi Diana — it's so nice to reconnect. I've been thinking about you and wondering if you're going to be in Omaha for the CSA conference. I'd love to see you.

Good post about food combining and raw nutrition! Love the photo of the fruit bowl. Your presentations at the market sound wonderful. I need to get more involved with doing that. I do some nutrition presentations and cleanse info in my local yoga community, but places like Whole Foods or Green Fields are perfect for spreading the word about healthy living. Good for you.
Hope to see you in Omaha.