Monday, November 3, 2008

Food Combining Part Two: Reunited!

Gosh - where does the time go? It seems I just posted that last blog and suddenly it's a month later. My apologies to Sarah P. and all my other dear readers for this delay. OK - here we go with Part Two of my Exciting Adventures in Food Combining!

We left off in the late 1970's, with me as a newly minted vegetarian and fledgling raw fooder, about to leave the comfortable nest of home and embark on life. Fast forward two decades and a bundle of dietary evolution. It’s a rainy day near the end of the millennium and I’m staying dry by hanging out in Barnes & Noble, browsing the health section (of course). Still somewhat of a nutritional iconoclast (but thankfully less so, as Whole Foods culture is spreading nicely into the wider population) I must admit I haven't given much thought to Food Combining in some time. So: imagine my delight at finding the decidedly non-fringe, celebrity personality, Suzanne Somers, promoting this VERY approach in Eat Great, Lose Weight, the initial book in her “Somersize” series!

Somers' book was the first official mention of food combining that I, personally, had seen since my early health-seeking days. Of course, if I had been paying any attention to mainstream culture in the 1980’s, I surely could not have missed Fit for Life, Harvey and Marilyn Diamond’s massive bestseller whose sensible nutritional lifestyle program promotes food combining as a core foundational principle. Anyway, there in the homey glow of the cozy Barnes and Noble aisles, on that dark and rainy day, I stood entranced, gobbling up Suzanne’s choice tidbits with hungry glee. I especially remember being thrilled by her sophisticated European initiation into the mysteries of food combining, originally presented to her as a means for lasting weight loss and digestive support.

OK, so that was exciting, and then life went on. More years passed with no food combining encounters until 2005, not coincidentally the year my first book came out, as I was investigating other detox books for comparison. That search led me to Natalia Rose’s The Raw Food Detox Diet, where food combining principles appear under the alias “Quick Exit Combinations.”

I am eternally grateful to Natalia Rose for her brilliant book, as it helped lead me back full circle to raw foods, properly combined meals, and the superior health and energy I currently enjoy. (Meanwhile, as with all things Natalia, her pared-down, Quick-Exit version of food combining is one of the most practical and easy to follow, hence highly recommended.)

So, that’s my story, minus about ten thousand details! But the point is, and what I find extremely interesting in all this, is that food combining keeps coming around – whether it’s the 1940’s, the 1970’s or the 2000’s. Even more curious is that while a small number of insightful authors and nutrition experts across the decades have placed food combining at the very epicenter of their programs, many more, if not most others completely ignore it! Typically, hard science disregards food combining entirely. For example, my rigorous graduate degree program in human nutrition focused intensely on nutritional biochemistry and evidence-based nutritional therapeutics, but made no mention of food combining, despite the fact that it is reputed to have helped improve the health and digestion of thousands of people!

This begs the question, is food combining simply a pop culture fad that just won’t die–an unproven philosophy grounded in common sense wisdom but not science? Or is it something more?

After much thought, research and personal experimentation, I would have to answer no to the first question, and yes to the second. There is a great deal of truth and scientific validity in food combining, but for some reason, we don’t have many studies to back it up. And in this day and age, “sound science,” as both phraseology and concept, is often considered synonymous with and dependent upon published research studies.

I differ with this definition of “real” science as, in my understanding, the scientific method in its pure and original form is a method based on OBSERVATION, not corporate funded research. Hence, if we can OBSERVE results in our own body through the practice of food combining, we have the makings of a scientifically sound principle.

The purpose of food combining is elegantly simple: to FREE UP ENERGY in the body by SUPPORTING EFFICIENT DIGESTION and assimilation of food. This intended outcome is easy to observe from day to day, particularly in those with irritable bowel, GERD or other issues of digestive distress, as well as those who have trouble losing weight or suffering from chronic low energy. The quick results you get with food combining make it a perfect candidate for personal scientific experimentation. As a bonus, no laboratory is needed, other than one’s own body!

As noted in my previous post, two of the most important food combining rules are to eat fruit alone, and to eat starches and proteins at separate meals. There are numerous exceptions, though (for instance, DRIED fruits combine well with nuts), and countless "sub-rules" as well, in which I urge you to not get too entangled. Apply the basics, see how you feel, and take it from there.

Basic Food Combining Principles Chart © 2008 Diana Allen, MS, CNS

To help you get started, here's a chart that outlines the basic principles. Use it as a visual aid to see what goes with what. Feel free to combine foods in immediately connecting categories, and avoid eating foods from unattached categories. Above all, have fun with it!

May this and all your dietary efforts serve to increase your health and happiness.

Yours in the abundant light of wellness,

Diana ☺


Catherine said...

Hi Diana,
Thank you for another informative and inspiring blog entry! I love what you wrote about the validity of observation: I have cut out coffee cold turkey and am conducting my own little experiment dubbed "a poison a week" - eliminating an irritant food/substance a week, observing the effects. This week I will be avoiding dairy entirely and observing the effects. Your suggestion to eat raw foods throughout the day then cooked at dinner has helped me to enjoy the best of both worlds while incorporating more and more raw foods.
Love the food combo chart.
Talk to you soon!
Peace out,

glutenfreeforgood said...

Hi Diana — wonderful part I and part II posts! I think my first thoughts of food combining might have come from my hippie girl cookbooks. Tassajara Cooking maybe?

Hope all is well with you and that you are enjoying some brilliant fall weather.


Rachel @ The Health Revival said...

Thank you for providing that chart. Most of the food combining charts are SO confusing and hard to understand. This one is perfect - thank you!

diana allen, ms, cns said...

You're welcome, Rachel. I was totally confused by all those other charts, too! I'm so glad this one works for you, and invite you to link over to it from your website. (: Diana