Ditch Your Traditional Diet for Some Short-Term Food Combining

I really enjoyed reading your article “Why a Food Combining Diet Makes Sense: Six Dos and Don’ts.” Thank you for the wonderful information. But does this mean the old definition for a balanced diet, a meal which contains food from all the food groups, is invalid? Doesn’t your article imply we can no longer have meals with a balance of foods?

Answered by Dr. Doug

One thing I pointed out in the food combining article — which I think a lot of readers missed — is it, in my opinion, “Isn’t something one should be required to do forever.” Food combining (a term used to describe an approach to eating where foods that require different digestive environments are eaten separately) is sometimes necessary to deal with compromised digestion, like when we’re not producing enough stomach acid or enzymes or when our stomach cramps after eating.

A healthy digestive system can handle a mixed meal of proteins, carbs and fats, so once digestion is back on track I find people can gently transition back to mixed meals. Adhering to strict food combining is not easy. Since it isn’t necessary for a healthy digestive system, there’s no real reason to stick to it permanently.

So I wouldn’t say the old definition of a balanced diet is invalid in terms of the macro-nutrients, (fats, proteins and carbs). Official dietary recommendations do have issues, though. The ratios for macronutrients recommended aren’t going to work for everyone and there are certainly lots of things wrong with the specific components recommended — basing the majority of the diet around dairy and grains for instance.

But there are some good pieces of advice we can take away from food combining; easy steps, which can be undertaken even if you’re not sticking to a strict food-combining protocol.

For one thing, eating something sweet after a meal is never a good idea. I know we have this ingrained tradition of desserts after meals — sugary cakes and ice creams and even fruit. But it’s a really bad idea. As I explained in my earlier article, carbohydrates normally exit the stomach quite quickly, whereas fats and proteins stay in there longer. By digging into high-carb foods, the sugars from fruits or baked goods will begin to, essentially, ferment. This can lead to gas and indigestion or worse.

Eating fruits by themselves is another piece of food combining advice that’s worth heeding, especially sweet fruits. For the same reason as above, eating fruit with other foods — for example melon wrapped in prosciutto or pineapple on your pizza — can lead to digestive distress. Fruit can be broken down and leave the stomach within 20 minutes, but proteins and fats need to stay in there for hours to digest properly.

If your digestion is super-efficient, this might now be an issue for you, but keep in mind few of us have tip-top digestion. In our modern western society it’s extremely rare, in fact. Take note of how you feel after eating before you dismiss it as something you don’t need to worry about.

Is this the end of eating a mixed or “balanced” meal? No.

It’s a dietary protocol to get your digestion back on track.

The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto.