In the Natural Health world, the concept of food combining is a hot topic, and still debated, esp. the ‘eating fruit on it’s own rule’. There are many theories on why certain foods should or shouldn’t be eaten together in the same meal. In general, if you are very healthy and your digestion is working well, there is less need to worry about food combining, because your body is doing a fine job of digesting what you are giving it.
However, up to half of people suffer from at least occasional constipation. Conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) are very common, as are poor diets with little fibre and too much processed food, leading to bowel dysfunction and fatigue, so food combining can be helpful, although there is no great research evidence to explain exactly why scientifically.
Specific Reasons to Time Meals
For the following people food combining is especially important, and in these situations when I work with clients, I make sure we devise an eating strategy that includes meal timing when I treat the following problems/areas:
1. Weight problems
3. Digestive problems (including IBS)
4. Athletes (to maximize muscles recovery and repair)
5. Fatigue/low Energy
6. ‘Low’ Blood Sugar
I like to keep things simple. Eating fruit (especially citrus fruits like oranges, limes, tangerines, etc) by itself ie. on an EMPTY stomach is a good rule to follow if you suffer from digestive issues like bloating, constipation or gas. This means eating your fruit at least a half hour before the rest of your breakfast, or 2 hours after a large meal.
Food Combining For ‘Sluggish Digestion’
If you have a ‘sluggish’ digestion or IBS or constipation, it is easier for the body to digest the meal and move things through the gut quicker if you only eat one or two food groups at each meal. I have found that for people who suffer from IBS this can really improve things if they eat like this. For example, a ‘well-combined’ meal would be brown rice with vegetables OR a veggie omelet OR chicken with veggies. For breakfast, it can get a bit tricky, but in general, muesli or low sugar granola with soy milk or natural organic yoghurt is a good combo, but avoid adding fruit to that meal.
Including some pungent flavors or spices with each meal will also help digestion. For example, herbs such as garlic, basil, ginger and spices such as black pepper, chilli (avoid if you have stomach ulcers), pipoli, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon.
Dr Dani’s Energy Tip
If You find you get ‘energy lows’ or sugar cravings during the day, it’s really helpful to eat 6 smaller meals spaced 2.5 hours apart during the workday, and have a high protein lunch with minimal refined carbs at lunch, like a salad with salmon, and then have a 3pm snack of nuts.