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The Importance of Correct Food Pairings

The concept of eating healthy often makes me think of salad, grilled fish, rice cakes and so on, however I recently learned, that nutritionists say it’s not just what we eat, but what we eat it with. It seems that certain food pairings will leave you tired, bloated, and gaining weight, while other pairings will have you shedding the pounds and feeling energized. Here are examples of both good and bad pairings:

 

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Food Pairings

Leafy greens, bok choy, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts go great with either protein, carbs, or fats, because they can digest in both alkaline and acidic environments. The best combo would be a meaty or carb base, with plenty of NSVs on the side.

Proteins and Fats

Food Pairings

This is the worst pairing you can make – Pepsin (the enzyme that breaks down protein) is inhibited by fats, actively preventing your body from breaking down and using the much-needed proteins. If you are unsure about foods that contain both (like cheese or nuts), simply consider them as proteins.

Meat and Potatoes

Food Pairings

There's nothing like some French fries with your steak, or mash with your turkey, is there? Sadly, that’s not the case. Potatoes are full of carbs and require an alkaline environment to be digested properly, while meat and other proteins (like nuts, soy, and olives) are digested in an acidic environment. Mixing acidity with alkalinity cancels both, making digestion hard and ineffective.

Drinking while Eating

Food Pairings

You may think it’s nonsense, but drinking during a meal dilutes the enzymes in the stomach, forcing them to work harder and making digestion take more time. If you want to be on the safe side, avoid drinking any liquids in the 15 minutes before and after eating.

Fruits with Anything Else

 

Our body breaks down fruits faster than any other food, but if you eat them with other ingredients, your body saves them for last. The problem starts with fermentation – fruits have relatively high sugar levels, a key ingredient in the fermentation process. The most evident byproduct of fermentation is the production of gas, which can also lead to bloating.

 

Extra advice:

1. If you want to combine some of the “forbidden” pairings, give your body time to digest.

  • Wait three hours or longer after eating starches
  • Wait four hours or longer after eating proteins
  • Wait 30 minutes if you ate fruit before a meal and three hours after a meal

2. Not all carbs are bad. Eating carbs from whole grains or beans (pinto, kidney, navy), combined with non-starchy veggies will keep the fats away from your midsection.

Food Pairings

A Good-Pairing Daily Menu

  • Breakfast: Toast, avocado and a mushroom omelet / Strawberries and an apple
  • Lunch: Sashimi and seaweed salad / Roasted cauliflower, lentil soup, spinach & white-bean salad / Baked potato and steamed broccoli
  • Snack: Cucumbers and Hummus (chickpea dip) / Celery and peanut butter / Orange and kiwi / Caprese salad
  • Dinner: Lamb and cauliflower rice / Roasted peppers stuffed with millet / Whole-wheat pasta and sautéed vegetables / filet mignon and asparagus

 

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