Melissa Wood is a health coach, model and proud new mother living in New York City. While gracing the pages of such publications as Women’s Health, Self and Shape magazines through her work as a model, she has developed a passion for healthy living and fitness. Melissa completed her studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and became a certified Health and Wellness Coach in 2014. She hopes that by sharing her own experiences with food choices and body image, she will be able to help those struggling to find a healthy balance in their lives. For Melissa's health and fitness tips, visit her website, f low her on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat @Mindfullyfit

People often tell me that they eat healthily but are frustrated with the lack of results in their bodies, and can’t understand why they’re still feeling bloated after eating. The first thing I always ask them is how they are combining their foods.

Proper food combining is a method of eating that allows you to digest your food in a way that is efficient, not wasteful of energy, and which allows you to absorb the most nutrients from your foods. Because all foods digest at different rates using different enzymes, it is important to understand which combinations are optimal for digestive health. Improper food combining leads to unpleasant side effects such as bloating, gas and yes- even weight gain.

One of the most common misconceptions is that eating fruit for dessert is a healthy alternative to sugary sweets. While fruit is very healthy and should be a big part of any diet, it’s not advisable to eat fruit after a meal, no matter how light or healthy. The reason for this is because fruit digests faster than any other food group.  If you’re still craving something sweet after a mean, try having a piece of dark, non-dairy chocolate instead. This will not interfere with the digestive process.

If, for example, you have a chicken salad for lunch, it’s important to know that chicken takes approximately 4-6 hours to digest, so it’s not advisable to follow it up with fruit because most fruit only takes 30-45 minutes to digest. The fruit will have nowhere to go and ends up sitting in your stomach, leading to a host of unpleasant side-effects such as bloating and gassiness.

This chart is a good guideline to use when in doubt about food combining

Chart via

Don’t take my word for it; give yourself 2-4 weeks to try it. Food combining is not an exact science; don’t beat yourself up if you can’t follow these guidelines 100% of the time. The results will speak for themselves, hopefully leading you to make food combining a part of your eating routine.

It is important to remember that this is NOT a diet. It’s a way of understanding how the digestive system works to optimize your health, while looking and feeling great in the process

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