**UPDATED*** Properly combining foods

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

***Update***My sister is helping me clarify what I've written in crazy-Kirsten-speak below. Here's a more succinct synopsis:
Not everyone will pick up all these rules right away- you don't have to be perfect. Take small steps, make small concessions, and your body will thank you for your efforts by better digesting your food.

The most IMPORTANT parts are:
  • eat fruit ALONE and ONLY on an empty stomach. Wait 1/2 an hour before eating anything else (45 min for banana).
  • do not eat protein with grains (by protein, I mean chicken, tuna, beef, pork, eggs, fish etc.—does not apply to plant-based protein and by grains, I mean potato, rice, quinoa, wheat, legumes like chickpeas and lentils, etc.) 
Reasons:  Fruit digests in 1/2 hour, so let it go on its own and don't complicate it with something that takes longer to break down. When you eat fruit for dessert for example, it's ready to pass in 1/2 hour, but it's stuck, rotting on a pile of food that takes longer. This makes GAS, bloating, cramping, etc.
Here's what Natalia Rose (author of "The Raw Food Detox Diet") has to say about mixing starches and protein: "whenever you eat a flesh food [animal protein] the stomach sends up the acid flesh/protein-digesting enzyme 'pectin', which initiates protein digestion. When you eat a starch food (a concentrated carbohydrate), the stomach sends out an alkaline medium to digest it. The acid and alkaline substances neutralize each other so digestion is severly hindered, causing fermentation". Remember science class? Acid+base=essentially WATER. I'm thinkin' that isn't working so well on breaking down my egg and toast. Woops. Apparently, this can take up to 8 hours in the stomach!!!!!!!!

So there are other rules, but I'm really only interested in starting here. I'm not big on overwhelming myself, or Mr. Pick-it-up right now, so I'm sticking with these two. Wanna try it with me?? Let me know if you're joining me and how it's going!!

So, because my sister eats mostly raw foods, she follows a particular book, I believe it's the Raw Food Detox Diet, and there is a heavy emphasis on combining foods.

Now, I haven't read the book, but eating with her for a week leaves me understanding the following: fruit should always be eaten on an empty stomach, and with NOTHING else. A half hour after eating fruit, you might choose to follow that with grains, or a protein (but not both) and/or veggies. Veggies go with everything (except fruit) so you can eat them with your grains, or with your protein, and I think you can eat veggies with nuts/seeds. The fruit exception applies only if it's dried fruit, which can be combined with nuts/seeds à-la-trail mix. Seems like a lot of rules...yeah, it's tough to remember at first, but then it becomes second nature. Why oh WHY would you bother, you might add? Well, each type of food is digested by a different mixture of stomach "juices". If you mix two non-complimentary foods, the stomach juices could actually be working against each other and cancelling each other out (think acid, base and pH levels). This results in poor digestion (i.e. bloating, gas, stomach pain, etc.). So I'm giving it a try. No, I'm not perfect, no I don't understand nor remember the rules fully. However, I am following the fruit thing first in the morning (which I usually do anyway) but instead of putting fruit on granola, etc. I'm having the fruit alone, waiting a half hour (45 minutes if it's a banana) then having a follow-up snack.

So, this week started out rough- just getting used to eating more raw fruits and veggies than normal- but wow, things have definitely ended on a high note. Between doubling up my probiotic (which is a high-quality supplement and a dose of 50 billion per capsule) and taking the Glutagenics my new naturopath prescribed, I am ROCKIN ...BIG TIME. Let's just say (saving you the gory details) that things are going very well in the "guts" department.

With all the troubles I've had over my lifetime, I recently had an internist tell me he thinks I have "irritable bowel syndrome". ARGH. I HATE that diagnosis. That is the biggest cop out, catch-all I could possibly come up with. YES, my guts are "irritated"...but WHY? Something is irritating them, dammit, so don't just sluff me off, help me figure out WHAT is irritating them, or I'll start irritating you! :)

So with a combination of various practicioners, I am determined to figure out what is bothering my guts, and eliminate them. This week I also had virtually no meat (just fish one night) and no dairy except cream in my coffee. Again, this was just a question of eating at my sister's, but it really "did me good". I'm kind of scared to reintroduce anything now, because I'm finally almost pain free. However, I don't really know yet what's bothering me, and won't for a few weeks till my allergy tests come back, so I just need to soldier on in the interim and try not to be too scared.

So all in all, things are GREAT. Don't know if it's gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs...no idea what my triggers are, but I'm finally optimistic that I can continue to improve and feel good.

Yay me! :)


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