Perms and Combs

Despite the tantalizing title of this post, I will not be meandering through the fascinating world of chemically-induced curls or the instruments of follicle torture teasing today. Nope. *Let down alert:* When I say ‘perms and combs,’ I mean it in the geeky Math Club way– permutations and combinations. (Us math wizards just like to abbreviate certain “terms” to keep our secret language of “arithmetic” on the “down low”. Thx!)

Anyway, in case I have crushed some of your hopeful hearts a little bit with my double-barreled tactics of:

a) Not talking about permanent wave hairstyles

AND

b) Forcing math upon your resistant brains instead,

I would like to extend a peace offering of sorts– an olive branch, if you will:

(Here is a photo of me with a fresh perm and an oversized, paint-splattered T-shirt dress. You’re welcome. Thank you for reading my blog and for indulging my random tangents and whims!)

So where was I? Oh, yes: permutations and combinations. Aside from cutting out dairy from my diet (which I’ve been successful with since January 2010), one of the first major recommendations I’m tackling in my Personal Beauty Detox Journey deals specifically with proper food pairings. Kimberly Snyder goes into considerable detail in her book, The Beauty Detox Solution, about which foods should be paired together to help optimize digestion and which foods should be eaten separately for the same purposes. Food combinations are not a new idea at all– indeed, I had heard the concept a number of times and a number of years before reading this particular book, but I had never really incorporated it into my lifestyle.

(OK, OK– you’ve got me: In all honesty, I actively resisted the notion that I should give up my beloved fruit/nut, hummus/crackers, eggs/toast, almond butter/anything else combos in the service of better digestion. The knowledge about proper food pairings was received, then considered… then consciously ignored. Ahem.)

But I’m on a Beauty Detox Journey now! And I’m willing to try new things! So I decided to attempt better food combinations as an initial step because it doesn’t involve adding in any unfamiliar foods to my diet or eliminating any of my routine staples, either. Instead, this suggestion simply asks followers to rearrange their already existing diets to minimize/eliminate any poor food combinations, which can be extremely taxing on the digestive system. According to the ‘real-life’ vignettes in Kimberly’s book, many people have benefited greatly from this one step alone– success stories of weight-loss, increased energy, and better digestion abound!

The First Step: Breakfast

After a quick review of the food combination guidelines (which are neatly summarized here— check out #3), I came to the immediate and dismaying realization that my normal breakfast dish– oatmeal with dried cranberries, ground flax seeds, and a modest trickle of flax seed oil on top– violates nearly every fundamental rule of food combining. It mixes seeds (protein/fat) with a grain, it incorporates oil, and it mixes in a fruit, which should always be eaten separately (let alone ripe and raw instead of dried!) 😦 Baby steps, right?

Undeterred (well, maybe a little bit deterred), I finished up the rest of our cranberries in our usual breakfast style and left them off the grocery list when they had run out. Then, to preserve the semblance of sweetness in our morning oatmeal sans cranberries, I started to cook the oats with a small amount of natural vanilla extract and added some nutmeg and cinnamon as well. I’ve still been using some flax oil on top– the ground flax seeds moved onto my afternoon salads– but the goal is to wean myself off of the oil as well when my bottle runs out. (Eventually, I will possibly even graduate to drinking a Glowing Green Smoothie at breakfast instead of cooking oats at all, but for the time being, a cooked a.m. meal is still de rigeur in Chez Baby Steps.) No big deal.

The Next Step: Lunch

Lunch hasn’t required as much of an adjustment on my part, because I usually eat a She-Ra sized salad in the afternoon, anyway.

Yeah!! I LOVE SALADS!

I did transfer my ground flax seeds from the breakfast to the lunch time slot, and I’ve also subbed my regular balsamic vinegar with raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar– look at me, Princess of Power in the Beauty Detox department!! 🙂 Other than that, I’ve just been careful to include only one protein on top of my greens, instead of 2 or 6 or 8. Simple is better, no? I’ll either toss some pecans or slice a boiled egg on top of my salads now– not both anymore.

The Final Step: Dinner

Speaking of how simple is better, I was getting into the habit of making really elaborate, complex, and decadent dinners, most of which contained eleventeen hundred ingredients and naturally violated the fundamental tenets of food pairing. So I’ve yanked on the reins of my free-spirited inner chef and tried to keep things more simple in the kitchen. Baby steps! Simplicity! We eat a lot of greens, stir-fries, or soups for dinner, so nothing much has changed here. (Proper food combinations are a lot easier to achieve for a woman who never grew up with the typical “meat and potatoes” dishes.) Moving right along…

The Bonus Step: Fruit

Incredibly, fruit has been the most challenging food pairing recommendation for me. Defeated by fruit! Fruit is supposed to be eaten on an empty stomach (so either 30 minutes before a meal or a full hour– or more– following a meal). I have caught myself munching on homemade granolas or trail mixes that pair fruits with other foods like nuts or seeds, and I’m also mysteriously craving things like fruit pies and pastries (which I wasn’t really interested in until I learned that fruit should be eaten by itself!) The fruit thing will be an ongoing step for me, but like any new habit, all it takes is a little bit of time and patience.

What about you, dear readers?

Had you heard about proper food pairings before?

Do any of you follow the principles of food combinations to help your digestion?

Anybody else defeated by the simple apple? Anyone? Bueller? 😉


22 responses

  1. Yeah, I’m pretty much at the *ignore* stage… I’ve heard about some of these things, but I can’t really be bothered! I think it’s because I still have to work on eating well in general (or my version of eating well – whole foods, lots of vegetables, home-cooked everything), I don’t want to add anything more right now… I also worry that too many “rules” will take the fun out of eating! I know that once you’ve assimilated them it’s no longer work… but I also want to be able to travel, visit friends, and go out to the restaurant without worrying too much. And there seem to be lots of different opinions about food pairings. So for the moment, I just tell myself: forget about it!

    • I hear you on the ‘rules’ thing– I know I tend to rebel if I feel like I’m being disciplined or imposed upon too much! 🙂 So far, the food pairings have been going OK. It just helps to be aware of them, but I’m not beating myself up if I combine the ‘wrong’ foods together. The awareness, in itself, helps me a lot.

    • It is a lot to grasp at first– especially when I’m not sure if tomatoes count as a “fruit” or as a “vegetable”, or whether flax seeds are a protein, a fat, or a grain… I’m not expecting any miracles overnight, but the food combining principles help explain why I feel so terrible sometimes after eating hummus on bread or almond butter on crackers– it’s a lot to put my digestive enzymes through! 🙂

  2. I’m not sure how you do it lady! Already you’ve eliminated an entire food group and now you’re pairing foods together…..personally I’m so frustrated with the lack of gluten in my day that I would cry if someone told me I had to limit myself further.

    But the thing is – if it works then it’s worth it!

    I also can barely get my oatmeal down (gag) even though I put walnuts all over it. AND raisins. Oh, that’s bad isn’t it?

    • I’ve gotten over the ‘feeling deprived’ stage with dairy (after 15 months– go, me!), so focusing on the food combinations now doesn’t feel like work or torture. 😉 I’m trying to take things slowly so I don’t become overwhelmed with rules… I mean “suggestions”. But talk to me again when I try to take out gluten entirely. Heh.

  3. Dude. I thought you were about to tell a hair horror story that would make me feel a little better about the Throwback Oompa Loompa cut I got last weekend. Jheri curls aside, I’d never heard about proper food pairings. Does this mean I can’t have icecream WITH my cake?

    • I have many hair horror stories to share, but I’ll save them all for one, long torturous hair post! The Year Of The Rat Tail will be Chapter 1… 🙂

    • Really– who could have possibly known this information?

      The part I find the most difficult about food combining is that pretty much every world culture has an improperly-combined signature dish: beans and rice, sashimi rolls, butter chicken with naan bread, meat and potatoes, etc. I notice that I feel better when I stick to the guidelines, but there also has to be some flexibility so we can partake in world cuisines when we travel!

  4. Hmm. I’ve heard of food pairings but didn’t *learn* them (so I won’t *know* when I’m violating them. Mm-hm).

    Fruit is, strangely, a category I find lacking in my diet period. Veggies, grains, legumes, oils, proteins – I’m usually good with most of those. But fruit, I forget to eat it very often. Other than sharing a banana with my toddler son yesterday, I think the last time I had fruit was in a spinach-chicken salad (rule breaker extraordinaire) last week. Oh wait – there were some Sunsweet dark chocolate-coated plum bites. So. Good.

    So having fruit solo might not be a challenge for me, if I remember to eat it at all. Still, I should probably tackle my Dairy Demon first…

    • I don’t eat a whole lot of fruit, either, but it seems that when I do, I’m breaking the food pairing rules! It’s dried fruit that usually gets me– ripe fruits aren’t usually in the house, except for the occasional apple.

  5. 1. Nice perm… My mom gave me one in middle school… it was steller!
    2. I love He-Man and She-Ra
    3. I have never heard of food pairings but it seems to make sense. I love fresh fruit! MMMMM Fresh Fruit Salad! I find it easier to eat a pear or apple if I cut it into slices first. Or put it in pie! 🙂
    Happy Eating!

  6. My husband went through a nutrition stage with complicated food pairings. I just smiled and nodded and ate whatever he fixed and then the phase passed. Now I’m being complicated with my dietary restrictions and he is, as usual, being incredibly accommodating.

    • I’m finding it easier to combine my foods properly now that I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks. There are still meals where I mix the ‘wrong’ foods together, but I’m not beating myself up over it (having horrible digestion afterward is punishment enough!) It’s great that your partner is so accommodating of your new dietary restrictions. We all need support when trying out new things!

  7. I have 2 books for you, if you don’t have them already from the library 🙂
    Food Combining for Health by D. Grant & J. Joice and the classic (and amusing) Eating Alive by Dr. John Matsen. Both books were published in the 80s. At this point, I am just trying to reduce my massive daily sugar intake, so I won’t need them for a while and would be glad for you to get what gems of nutritional knowledge you can from them.

    • Sounds excellent! I am a virtual sponge for nutritional information at this point. (Whether or not I actually follow through with the info might be another story altogether, though…) 😉

    • I haven’t tried the smoothie yet. I’m still in the phase of overly-savouring my morning oatmeal. Seriously: Every mouthful is like taking a delicate nibble out of a cherub’s heavenly wing… only not so morbid or creepy. My goal is to just pick a week soon and make a smoothie every morning. Try it! No excuses! … but I love my morning oatmeal! 🙂

    • Oh, Tori– you have no idea how much I miss *posting*! And reading other people’s blogs! And commenting on blogs! All in good time… I hope. Fingers crossed, OK? 🙂

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