food combining bento box

Do you eat healthy yet feel like a walking Pepto Bismol commercial? It’s not what you’re eating but how you’re eating: improper food combining can cause gas, bloating, headaches, and stomach cramps among other icky things. The good news is you can combat your indigestion with a few simple tweaks to how you’re combining your meals and snacks.

Here’s the deal: each food we eat influences our digestive system in its own way. Some foods take longer to digest than others and require specific enzymes to do so. When you eat two different foods that are being digested with conflicting enzymes, the resulting discomfort isn’t pretty. Luckily, if you keep the following food combining tips in mind as you prepare future meals, you’ll feel an immediate improvement.

7 Food Combining Rules To Banish Indigestion Forever

1. Always eat fruit on its own

This is the most basic and important rule of food combining. Not only is fruit one of the fastest foods to digest, its acidity levels interfere with how other foods are being digested – which can cause fermentation in your stomach (Yuck!).

2. Don’t combine starches with protein

Starches and protein need different digestive enzymes (starches require an alkaline environment, while most proteins require acidic). When they’re combined, the two enzymes essentially cancel each other out, which causes fermentation and leads to bloating and gas. When working on food combining, always avoid foods like pasta, rice, bread, or potatoes served with chicken, steak, or fish.

3. Only eat one type of protein per meal

Some proteins require different digestive enzymes which can slow down digestion. Avoid eating nuts and meat, eggs and meat, cheese and nuts, cheese and eggs, etc. during the same meal. If you have protein for breakfast, try not to have any other protein until dinnertime to give your body time to fully digest it.

4. Avoid drinking liquids with your meals

Liquid can dilute the stomach acids necessary to aid digestion. Food combining rules dictate that you drink plenty of fluids before your meals, but never during. After eating, try to wait wait one hour before drinking liquids again.

5. Don’t mix starches and sugars

This one’s really going to blow your mind: things like jellies, jams, honey and syrups shouldn’t be eaten with bread or cake. Combining sugar and starch leads to fermentation, which means gas and bloating (and sometimes the fetal position – just trust me).

6. Eat meat last

Because food is digested in the order it’s consumed, it’s best to eat foods that are quickly digested first, followed by ones that require more time to digest. Here’s a general food combining guide to keep in mind as you’re preparing meals:

  • Water and Juice: 20-30 minutes
  • Fruit, Soup, and Smoothies: 30-45 minutes
  • Veggies: 30-45 minutes
  • Grains and Starches: 2-3 hours
  • Beans, Meat, Poultry, and Fish: 3+ hours

Bonus tip: Avoid eating while stressed or distracted. “We need to be in a calm state in order to properly digest our food and assimilate its nutrients,” says Dr. Carrie Runde, naturopathic physician at the Casey Health Institute. “The body’s not designed to eat a meal and digest it when the nervous system is in panic mode, so eating that sandwich while driving and talking on your cell phone may lead to bloating and cramping all afternoon.”

Have you tried food combining to improve your digestion?

Related on Organic Authority:

5 Secrets to Boosting Digestion

23 Calming Herbal Remedies for Indigestion

The End of Heartburn, Gas and Bloating

Image: anotherlunch.com