Updated: Aug 4, 2022
This subject is no longer simple, but it could be.
The modern world has complicated the way food is processed, prepared, and consumed. The over-processing and manipulation with additives have created food that is harder to digest. As a result, optimal combination of foods is essential to ensure maximum absorption and minimum irritation.
Nutritional sciences list proteins, carbohydrates, and fats as the three main food groups.
Sounds simple, right? But, which food is a carbohydrate? Are all proteins the same? Are some fats healthier than others?
Keep it simple. Look through your kitchen and consider these four categories:
Vegetables (including legumes)
Proteins (both animal and plant)
Grains (whole and processed)
Fruits are easy—foods like berries, bananas, pineapple, kiwi.
Vegetables include leafy greens, cruciferous plants, roots, and beans like lentils or chick peas.
Proteins include meats and eggs as well as plant-based options like rice or pea protein. Whey is protein from cow’s milk and I do not recommend this.
Grains can be whole, like rice and oats, which enter the digestion differently than processed grains, like bread or pasta. The latter are more available for absorption and can result in a blood-sugar spike. Whole grains take longer to break down and result in a slower, more manageable absorption of the starch.
When groups of food are combined, you want to ensure all types are broken down well so the small intestine can absorb all the nutrients.
Here is a simple guide to combining the four groups:
Fruit is easiest to digest and best when eaten on its own.
Vegetables combine well with proteins.
Vegetables combine well with grains.
Proteins do not combine well with grains.
Proteins combined with legumes can be difficult for some to digest, so pay attention to how you feel with this combination.
Pretty simple, right?
There are some exceptions, but if you stick with these simple guidelines, especially if you’re just getting started, you may notice some improvement in your digestion and overall health.
In my next post, I will delve deeper into the combination types, various exceptions, and optimal timing of consumption throughout the day. I’ll also provide some quick and easy tips, especially for those days when ideal food combos are hard to manage.
Cameron Moffatt DOMP