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The Magic of Food Combining - or, why your body secretly dreads Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving meal

Happy post-Thanksgiving, everyone! It's been about a week now. How was it? Did you have a grand feast? Some football? Maybe even a little family drama?

Me? Oh, I had TWO Thanksgivings. If you have family spread out, I'm sure you can relate!

So, what did you have to eat? Let me guess. There was turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce in the shape of a can, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, pasta salad, dinner rolls, and green beans for good measure. Oh, and pumpkin pie, of course. Gotta have the pumpkin pie. With whipped cream. By the way, let the record show I am the Pumpkin Pie Queen - hence, the tiara - and these are just two of the five pies I made last week!

And then there was wine. Oh yeah, and appetizers! How can we forget about that? Sheesh! You had a little of everything, huh? A couple of helpings, too. And after you forced down that last bite of pie, you were so incredibly full that you had to practically roll yourself onto the couch to let the digestion commence...

Sound about right? Yeah. Me, too. Some of us are still digesting!

So, other than the fact that we tend to eat too much at the Thanksgiving meal, what else is it that makes us feel so stuffed and tired we can barely move? Some people will blame the tryptophan in the turkey as the culprit for the tiredness. And that may be part of it, but think about this. Look at all the combinations of foods we've eaten. We may have made Uncle Sam happy by getting all four food groups into one meal, just like the governmental food pyramid suggests, but the problem is that we've given our digestive system such a monumental task that it'll be busy for hours - quite literally - dealing with it!

Do you know that the process of digestion takes more vital energy than any other bodily process? Even exercise! When we eat one or two food groups at a time, say protein and vegetables, the body can easily break down those foods, separate the vitamins and nutrients it needs from the waste it doesn't need, and leave you feeling energized to do other things. But give it a meal like that crazy holiday ensemble and it pretty much has to shut down business for any other bodily activities until it can attend to that mess in your gut. And, I do mean mess! Because at this point, the meal is not providing you any nutritional value. It's only providing a mess to be broken down and discarded. It's kinda like when you drop a jar of peanut butter in the grocery store - Clean up on aisle six! How can you get any value out of food that's lying spilled on the floor?

So, I thought now would be the perfect time to introduce one of my favorite nutrition topics: the magical concept of Food Combining.

Food combining is a nutritional approach to health and weight loss developed by Herbert M. Shelton in his 1951 book Food Combining Made Easy, and basically says that certain foods, when eaten in combination with each other, will either digest with ease and give you energy, or they'll cause a major ruckus in your gut.

How exactly does this work? With that Thanksgiving meal still fresh in your mind - and in your gut! - it may be easier than ever to understand. So, let me 'splain.

Some foods play nice-nice together, and some fight. Take proteins and starches, for example. These two food groups require different digestive substances to break down. Your body uses stomach acid to digest proteins (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts), and uses alkaline from your saliva to digest starches (bread, pasta, pastries, rice, stuffing, potatoes, cookies, cake). If you eat one of them by itself - say turkey - it digests with ease and all is well in the world. And if you eat the other by itself - say stuffing - again, all is well in the world. But, if you eat them together, your body gets totally confused, sending out acid and alkaline at the same time. Pretty soon the acid and alkaline neutralize each other and the whole meal rots and putrefies. Clean up on aisle six! Delightful, huh?

Now, take fruit. I like to think of fruit as a bit of a diva. It requires hardly any energy to digest, which is great. But then the diva kicks in and it becomes a bit demanding. It likes to be eaten first, before any other foods. It likes to be eaten on an empty stomach. And it likes to go through your system on the fast pass, like within 20 minutes after eating. And, if it's eaten with or after anything else, boy will you hear about it later! Translation: indigestion, burping, gas - all the fun stuff.

Let's say you have turkey and stuffing, and then you want to have a "healthy" dessert so you decide to have a bowl of blueberries. Well, the blueberries want to take the fast pass, remember? But the turkey is like, "Dude. I'm gonna need a few hours." So, while the fruit taps its foot and waits for that to happen, it gets hot and humid in there in your stomach, and you know what happens when fruit is left in a hot, humid environment for too long? It ferments and rots... Again, woohoo! Where's my antacid?

When we eat an ill-combined meal like this, our bodies pretty much shut down for business and direct all available energy toward the digestion of that meal.

Now, vegetables, on the other hand, get an A in good conduct and humility. They not only play well with nearly all the other foods, they also help with digestion! How 'bout that?

What would Herbert M. Shelton say about the Thanksgiving meal? "No animals in nature ever eat such a haphazard comminglement of heterogeneity."

So, what's the solution according to principles of proper food combining? You can still enjoy these foods, just eat them at separate meals. As in, if you're craving turkey, have the turkey with vegetables and a green salad. Or, if you're craving the sweet potatoes, have them with vegetables and a salad. You want some pumpkin pie? Have it as an afternoon snack. You want some cranberries? Try them on top of fruit - for breakfast first thing in the morning. Or, put some cranberries on a green salad. See where I'm going with this? We gotta KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid.

I first heard about food combining in the best-selling diet book Fit For Life, by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond (1987), and it made so much sense to me that I put it to use immediately and have been doing it ever since. I have maintained great health and nearly the same weight, give or take a five or six pounds, for almost 30 years now. When I stray - like at Thanksgiving - boy, do I feel it! Now, once in awhile our bodies can deal with it. It's when we eat a Thanksgiving-esque meal everyday that we run into weight problems and ultimately health problems. I don't want that, and I don't want that for you!

I'll have more on this topic down the road, but if you want personal help learning how to implement proper food combining in your life, Contact me for a FREE consultation.

Stay tuned for more health, wellness & other Magical things...

To your Health,


In the next Totally Grody blog:

Taste buds, You are NOT the boss of me!


As always, if you need up close and personal help with weight loss, nutrition, and reaching your health goals, I offer 1-2-1 Personal Nutrition Training as an independent affiliate of Nutrition Coach Network.

Contact me here for a FREE consultation, and we'll determine what your health goals are and if you're ready for coaching.

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