I’ve recently had an allergy test done and my diet now is free of the foods I’m allergic to but now I’m wondering how important is food combining? Is there a basic rule to follow when combining foods?
Food combining is an important step on the road to your ideal state of health, but in my opinion, it isn’t something one should be required to do forever. Certain concepts from food combining should carry over into your daily meals, but I see strict food combining as a nutritional therapy and something not necessary for everyone all the time.
Food combining is a term used to describe an approach to eating where foods that require different digestive environments are eaten separately. Your body processes protein, carbohydrates and fats, as well as acidic foods and alkaline foods, differently. In order to have truly efficient digestion, these different types of foods need to be eaten separately so that they don’t interfere with each other’s ideal digestive environment. Eating bad combinations of foods can lead to gas, upset stomach, heartburn or even diarrhea.
The basic rules are as follows. You may find other sources that go into more detail about detrimental food combinations, but these are the essentials.
1. Don’t eat high protein and carbohydrates at the same meal. This means nuts, eggs, meats and cheeses should not be taken with breads, starchy vegetables like potatoes, pasta or especially sweet foods including fruits.
2. Avoid mixing carbohydrates with acids. This means potatoes, rice, pastas and breads should be eaten separately from acidic foods like lemons, limes, tomatoes, vinegar and other sour fruits. Orange juice in the morning with your cereal is a bad combination from a food combining perspective.
3. Don’t eat two high protein sources at one meal. Milk and meat, meat and cheese, eggs and meat, nuts and meat, nuts and eggs, eggs and cheese, etc., all need to be avoided while on a food combining regimen.
4. Fats should not be mixed with proteins. This means cream, oil or butter shouldn’t be mixed with meat, eggs or nuts. Eating lean meats is a must while on this diet.
5. Acidic fruits should not be mixed with proteins. Oranges, lemons and tomatoes should therefore not be mixed with meat, eggs or nuts. Lemon chicken, duck a l’orange or tomatoes in your omelet need to wait until you’re done with your food combining.
6. Most fruits, but especially melons, should be eaten alone. Other high sugar fruits like pineapple, bananas, mangoes and other tropical fruits should be eaten by themselves as well, but melons are the big ones. Skip those appetizers you find at Italian weddings where they wrap melon in prosciutto if you want to avoid the line for the bathroom later on.
Many weight loss diet plans have come out that essentially just take the rules of food combining and put them into a weight loss context. The recipe makes sense – take a population that likely has compromised digestion, put them on a food combining diet, watch them lose weight. If you go from inefficient digestion to digesting like a champ, weight loss (if you’re overweight; weight gain if you’re underweight) is likely to be a result.
Unfortunately, many dishes that are common to the western world completely contradict the rules of food combining. Pasta with acidic tomato sauce and meat, acidic orange juice with breakfast, steak and baked potato, ham and pineapple. The whole concept of dessert, something sweet to finish off a meal, is possibly the worst thing you can do to your poor digestive system, from a food combining perspective.
You’re probably wondering what combination of foods you can eat while food combining. Salads are your best friends while food combining, because almost anything will combine with them. Salmon or chicken with salad, a big salad with avocado, nuts and seeds or cooked green veggies and sweet potato. Vegetarians have it somewhat easier as long as they lay off the really starchy stuff like potatoes and breads. Any vegetarian soup is fair game, but mind you, don’t add in acidic fruits like tomatoes. Here’s a chart that makes things a little more straight forward (it’s easier to pick things out of columns than come up with them in your head). If you’re still confused, talk to your natural health practitioner.
So why do we go on food combining regimens? The idea is to give the digestive tract time to heal. While a healthy stomach should be able to handle a mixture of different foods, a compromised digestive system needs all the help it can get. Although many reading this may feel this isn’t a step they want to take, anyone eating the standard North American diet likely has a compromised digestive system and would benefit from food combining for a time.
Some of the principles that have come out of food combining are steps that I feel should be taken every day, even outside of a health plan. A sugary dessert after a meal is a recipe for digestive disaster so either skip it (ideally), or if you must indulge, eat it hours after your meal. Eating fruits alone is generally a good idea too, as is avoiding orange juice with your high starch breakfast.
The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto. Doug specializes in private in-home holistic cooking lessons.