Book Reviews

Food Combining Made Easy by Herbert Shelton, A Book Review

By: Chris Stern

What Happened to Eden?

Imagine a world filled with free food, perfect health and good natured, law abiding citizens.  No laws are needed because the human inhabitants of this world lack the scourge of inappropriate desire.  Lacking inappropriate desire, people exhibit unselfish, indiscriminate virtue.  Such a world, dubbed the Garden of Eden exists in the book of Genesis of The Holy Bible.  Interestingly, accounts of this world also exist in The Analects given by Confucius as well as ancient Daoist traditions.  All three of these, essentially historical or even simply ideological accounts arrive at the same conclusion.  At some point during the course of the existence of Eden, something happens and humankind starts to inherit a world filled with greed, selfish desire, and man-made laws that cannot, it seems, remain unbroken.

In modern times, a little known movement, dubbed the Natural Hygiene Movement, proposes that the ideals of an Eden like existence have not completely fallen away from humanity.  Rather, through proper and disciplined choices, based on the scientific research undertaken by medical doctors, all of humanity contains the ingredients necessary to regress back to an Eden-like existence.

In his classic book, Food Combining Made Easy, Herbert M. Shelton takes up a mere sixty-three pages of a reader’s time to expound on the essential dietary choices which contain the power to awaken Eden in all of humanity.

First published in 1940, Food Combining Made Easy remains available to today’s reader.  Mainly a practical guide to eating, this volume does touch on the need to balance emotional and physical aspects of a person.  For a person capable of following a few simple rules, however, this little book provides strict guidelines that go beyond simply eating those vegetables that a lot of mothers and doctors have given up attempting to facilitate.  Compared to modern societal staples of fast food, junk (processed) food and more food – this little book seems stricter than ten pairs of helicopter parents put together.

The most fundamental aspect of these rules is that they are based on digestion.  Medical Doctors in the 1800’s conducted, live, practical research on digestion.  The rules then are a product of their findings along with Shelton’s own experiences and those of the people he treated.  It is worth mentioning that in his lifetime, Shelton was jailed several times during his life for practicing medicine without a license.  In 1921 he graduated from the American School of Naturopathy with a Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) and a Doctor of Naturopathic Literature (ND Lit).  He published over forty books and ran several sanitariums across the country.  Still, he was plagued with legal battles as the establishment was and still is critical of
his views.

The rules that are put forth in Food Combining Made Easy are simple, but they do fly in the face of what is considered American cuisine today.  There are many stakeholders present that would contest any truth that these rules may or may not contain.  These stakeholders can be summarized within the groups of for profit industries as well as the individual desires of appetite.  Basically everyone is a stakeholder in the current notions of how one should eat and remains one of the most difficult notions to deconstruct, both personally and collectively.  Based on my own self knowledge and personal experiments, I posit that this has been the case since the beginnings of civilization.  In relation to the Garden of Eden, my idea is essentially that the Fruit from the Tree of Knowledge actually represents the beginning of processing foodstuffs and combining them in unnatural ways in human history.  Perhaps there never was a time when all people on this planet ate natural diets.  Nonetheless, one thing I do know for certain through my own experience is that the practical implementation of the natural diet put forth by Shelton in Food Combining Made Easy, practiced over time (two or more days) brought an Eden-like existence directly into my personal viewfinder.

Following are the basic rules, organized in the three-meals-a-day schema of daily sustenance that most world citizens desire to enjoy today.  These are purposely abridged; something that is a keystone to harnessing the potential of this information is to take that personal step forward and discover for yourself how this information can be used and what further information you might need to further your own understanding.  For starters though, you might try these rules for a day as a personal gauge.  After all, what is one day without a sandwich and all of its manifestations that tend to be the very definition of American Cuisine (i.e. burgers, pizza, burritos, chow mien, spaghetti etc.).

Breakfast – Eat fruit.  Fresh fruit is a natural combination of vitamins, nutrients and simple sugars that will provide a quick and lasting boost of energy nicely regarded at the beginning of the day.  Watch out for fruitful combinations that put acids and bases together.  For Instance, Apples and oranges do not combine as well as oranges and strawberries.  For evidence of this, try combining baking soda and orange juice in a container without entertaining a naturally energetic reaction.

Lunch – Eat starchy vegetables such as squash, potatoes and/or whole grains with vegetable salad.  The complex carbohydrates in these types of vegetables will sustain your energy levels for the rest of the day while naturally providing vitamins and minerals.  Leafy greens are the backbone of a vegetable salad but other examples exist as well.  Watch out for processed carbohydrates as most of the nutrients have been leached from the flours during the processing.  Attempts to add vitamins and nutrients to processed food would not need to occur if the food was not processed.  In essence, keep it natural.

Dinner – Choose a single protein source and eat this with vegetable salad.  Meaty proteins are all flesh, so there is not a problem combining different meats.  However, cheese is a separate type of protein from meat and do not combine well.  Similarly, natural proteins are found in a variety of foods that are grown that should be kept to a single source of protein (i.e. nuts, chickpeas etc.).  Proteins at the end of the day help facilitate the natural healing process as these materials are largely what the body uses to repair itself.  Separated from the starches, the body is able to utilize the individual nutrients most efficiently and effectively.

Water – Do not drink water with a meal.  This washes away the digestive enzymes needed to properly digest the food.  Drink water at least ten minutes before a meal and after enough time has passed for the meal to be digested.

Cheating – When cross-combining does occur, Shelton recommends skipping a meal to allow the body time to digest the food properly.

In his landmark book, Food Combining Made Easy, Shelton provides a definition of eating that largely escapes civilized minds today.  Are his rules a road map to Eden?  Was there ever an Eden or a Golden Age like those described in the literatures that survive from the past into the present?  Can we as individuals transform ourselves, thereby providing a guiding light for the rest of humanity by the disciplined application of this definition of eating?  Doesn’t it make sense that at the root of any type of change we desire to make for ourselves, in our lives, lays the very stuff that we put into our bodies?  The historical question may never be answered but the others, by my own personal assessment are rhetorical.

Chris Stern is a blue-collar-scholar; he works and goes to school in Pueblo, Colorado.  He can be reached by email at undestroyer@tvbl.info

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