The food combining diet is based on the theory that different food groups are digested optimally when eaten in the following combinations:
- Proteins (beans, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, poultry) and starches (grains, pasta, breads, cereal, rice, carrots, etc.) should be eaten at separate meals. Proteins can be eaten with vegetables and starches can be combined with vegetables.
- Fruits should be eaten alone.
Starches are thought to be absorbed best when they are eaten alone or with vegetables, because the pH of the digestive tract is alkaline. The digestion of proteins, however, requires stomach acid and if proteins and starches are combined, the digestive environment is neither acid or alkaline enough for either group to be absorbed well. Many proponents of the food combining diet believe that this can lead to health problems such as poor digestion.
Critics of the food combining diet, on the other hand, say that:
- Most, if not all, people can handle a variety of foods at the same time without causing health problems.
- This diet can be difficult and time-consuming to follow. Favorite pairings such as chicken with potatoes, tofu with rice, beans and rice and tuna sandwiches are not allowed.
- Nutritional deficiencies may occur without proper meal planning. Protein and starches cannot be eaten together, so people usually choose one or the other. As a result, people often consume more starch than protein, as starches tend to be more filling and satisfying. Special care should be taken to ensure adequate intake of protein, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
- Combining protein and starch can be beneficial. When protein and fats are combined with starch, the absorption of starches is slowed which helps to maintain steady blood sugar and insulin levels.
Published December 23, 2003