Sequential eating is based on the idea that the order in which you consume various foods, and the rate at which they break in your stomach can effect your digestion. The first part of the theory was tested in a study using lab rats. The rats were fed three different rounds of food in sequence, each a colored distinctly with dye. The rats were then euthanized, frozen, and dissected. When a cross section was cut from their stomach, it was evident that the three different rounds of food were layered in the order that they were consumed.

The same thing happens when humans eat food.

This sounds a little unremarkable until you consider that foods of different densities digest at different rates. More dense food takes longer to break down than less dense foods.

This becomes a problem when you eat a meal with distinct parts in the wrong order. For example, most dinner entrees include a protein, a starch, and a vegetable.  If you order a pork chop and its just so crispy and juicy you can’t help but eat it first, it will sit in the bottom of your stomach blocking access to the intestine for 4 hours while it breaks down. Next, you move on to the hericot verts and pile them in on top of the pork. Problem is, many vegetables, being much less dense than proteins, take as little as 15 minutes to digest.  These green beans, held hostage in your stomach by the pork, go through a number of unpleasant chemical reactions once they’ve finished their initial digestion, which can lead to very unpleasant bloating, and heartburn.

The gastronomical technique of sequential eating relieves this issue. When faced with a delicious meal of various elements, go for the least dense items first i.e. the veggies, followed by starch, and then protein.  While it might be hard to control your urges, your stomach will thank you, and you won’t have to be rolled out of the restaurant.

-Arianna Schioldager


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