The first thing you should know is that the food combining diet isn’t one specific diet, but a dietary philosophy that puts limitations on the types of foods that should and should NOT be eaten together at the same meal.
The main principles of the food combination philosophy are that you should avoid eating protein and carbohydrates in the same meal, and never eat fruit, or in some cases never eat certain types of fruit, with any other type of food. The recommended combinations vary depending on which website or expert you happen upon. The theory behind this advice is based on principles of digestion. Since protein, carbohydrates, and fats all need different digestive enzymes and environments to be fully digested.
Food combining proponents say that eating certain foods together can cause some of the food to be improperly digested. One popular analogy floating around is that when foods containing protein and fat are taking longer to breakdown in your stomach, carbohydrate-based foods (especially fruit) will sit in the stomach and “rot” or ferment, causing bloating and other unpleasant digestive effects.
While this theory may sound logical, it’s flawed. There is no scientific evidence that food “rot” happens when you eat mixed meals, and the food combining way of thinking doesn’t take into account that digestion is a highly evolved system. Digestion doesn’t only take place in the stomach, and it is a process that is highly capable of handling multiple types of foods at once.
In fact, eating meals that combine different types of nutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrate) can be beneficial in many ways. Research indicates the antioxidants that you get from foods (especially fruits and veggies) are better absorbed when eaten with a combination of other nutrients. In addition, there’s lots of evidence that you should be eating whole grain carbohydrates WITH protein and/or fat because it helps keep your blood sugar more stable and regulates insulin, which may help you store less fat.
Based on research, our advice is that the best food combination that you can eat is a balanced meal consisting of healthy sources of portion-controlled carbohydrates (whole grains, fruit, vegetables), lean proteins, and healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, etc.). If you’re experiencing bloating, discomfort, or any other concerning symptoms when you eat, there could be other factors, food allergies, or food intolerances at play. It’s important to talk to a trained professional like a registered dietitian who can help you figure out what might be causing your symptoms.
Have you heard of the food combining diet before? What have you found works for you in terms of the combination of foods that you eat during meals?