Food Combining & Healthy Digestion


The old melon theory….eat it alone or leave it alone …

It’s late August, we might feel like summer’s coming to end but in the plant world we still have close to a month an half left of beautiful berries, stone fruits and those bright and juicy melons. So let's talk about the best ways to enjoy them. There were days where I would have a late night dinner of seared steak flanks, large watermelon cubes, mint, and feta on my back porch watching the sunset with my dog named Chapo. It was so delicious and fresh tasting yet I was left bloated and gassy afterwards. Only after really paying to attention to my digestion when eating fruits that I decided to really take on eating fruits – especially melons, alone.

There’s a lot of talk about “food combining” – what does it mean and how does it affect my health? The concept behind food combining is that the macronutrients in our meals – proteins, fats, and complex carbohydrates move through our digestive system at different times. Because of this, combining incompatible foods together can cause gas and bloat due to overproduction of alcohols and sugars made by our food and fermentation begins to happen in the stomach. However, eating compatible foods in combination allow for easier digestion. This is good to think about in terms of our own “transit time.” Are our bowel movements going too slow, too fast or just right?

So, here’s the quick deal. Fats take the longest to digest, then the proteins, and then the carbs. Melons for example are crazy fast, like 20 minutes and they’re out fast.

#1. Animal protein + non-starchy vegetables

#2. Grains & grain-like seeds (quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, teff) + starchy & non-starchy vegetables

#3. Fruit alone and at least ½ hour before a meal or combined with a protein and fat – like a smoothie with almonds. (this actually breaks it all down and helps to stable blood sugar).

#4. Fats & oils + animal protein, grain-like seeds + starchy or non-starchy vegetables

#5. Protein fats + protein fats (avocados, dairy, nuts)

#6. Protein starches (beans & pulses) + non-starchy vegetables & sea vegetables.

What does that mean with the beautiful melon?  Definitely, eat this guy alone. Melon moves so quickly, that when eating it along with grilled meat and corn, it’ll just get stuck behind them, causing gas and bloat from the fermentation that is starting to happen. In other words, you can have a bellyache for hours until it’s time to hit the pot.

People aren’t into having such strict rules when they eat food. So I’m not encouraging anyone to take on such a restrictive mode of eating. However, I do want you to be mindful about how our digestion works and how we can ease it, especially with those who have digestive challenges. Of course, overconsumption can be a doozy on our digestion, slowing it down and causing stomach upset. Be conscious. Stay present.

You show up to at your best friends bbq and the porch is beautifully set with colorful melons, blueberries and strawberries along with medium rare tri-tip steak that has just come off the grill and an abundance of bright leafy greens. Take a moment and eat your fruits while you catch up on summer tales at least an hour before you head over to the savory protein rich beef.