There is a lot of data to show the importance of pairing different foods to include all of the major macronutrients (i.e. fats, carbs, and protein) at the same meal because each of them plays a vital role in your blood sugar, energy, and hunger levels. But we don't eat macronutrients, we eat food.
Last week we learned how to build a satisfying meal, so you might have already noticed that there is real power in certain food combinations. This week we'll dive into why certain food combinations can help you thrive. You'll learn how to use the ZOE app as your guide to help you combine foods to create 75+ scoring meals that you'll enjoy.
Let's start with a simple sandwich
There are many different ways to build a sandwich, and you'll notice that the scores for all the different sandwich combinations below are very different. This is because of the combination of fats and carbohydrates, as well as their quality and quantity, differ. Remember that your results are unique to you, so if you input each of these combinations in your ZOE app you will find different results according to your own blood sugar and blood fat control.
Use the ZOE app as your guide
Let's take 2 different food combinations: a piece of white toast with butter and strawberry jam and a slice of whole-wheat toast topped with avocado, pumpkin seeds, and a boiled egg. Let's play around with these combinations in your ZOE app.
- First, search for 'toast with jam' and add this to your journal. Before saving the dish, add 1/2 Tbsp butter. What does this score for you? What happens to the score when you swap out the toast for multi-grain bread?
- Next, search for 'wheat toast with avocado' and add this to your journal. Before saving the dish, add 1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds and 1 medium hard-boiled egg. What does this score for you? What happens to the score when you swap out the toast for rye bread? And if you swap the egg out for chickpeas?
The science behind combining food
Combining foods can give you the ability to change how your body responds to one specific ingredient, just by pairing it with another. Your personal ZOE meal scores are your guide to help you do this.
When you combine the right ingredients together, you have a direct influence on your biological responses. These may be more desirable effects on your blood sugar, blood fat, or your gut health. Your ZOE scores help you create meals of better effects on your biology - a higher scores means it's a better meal for your body compared to other meals of similar calories.
You can use food combinations to keep your biological responses like your blood sugar levels stable, just like in the banana and peanut butter example above!
High scoring meals can provide you with longer-lasting energy and may leave you feeling more satisfied. On the other hand, food combinations that score low for you could lead to less desirable responses in your biology. One example of this could be big blood sugar spikes followed by a crash. This could lead to low energy, grogginess, fuzzy headedness, and irritability.
Our research also shows that blood sugar crashes can even lead to increased hunger and energy intake at the next meal and over the 24 hours that follow. This means that eating the best foods and meals for your body could have positive effects on how you eat throughout the day! In the longer term, repeated and excessive blood sugar and fat responses can contribute to dietary inflammation, which may increase the risk of developing a number of chronic diseases.
By eating the right foods in the right combinations for your body, you can begin to make your biology work for you.
How do these combinations make you feel?
Don't take our word for it - the power of these food combinations can often be felt soon after eating a meal, not just in the long-term.
We encourage you to continue to tap into your biological cues as you experiment with building 75+ meals this week. Do they make you feel different? Do some food combinations keep you feeling fuller for longer? Do others lead to a better mood and better energy levels later? How do they impact your pooping habits?
The real power of food combinations can be felt. So, the first step to finding the right combinations for you is to notice how different foods and food combinations make you feel when you eat them. You can keep track of this by writing down how you feel after meals and by using your daily journal to reflect on your biology, and see if you start to notice patterns. Then, choose the combinations that make you feel your best!