Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Wrong Combination

Thanks to some kind of insidious algorithm, my social media feeds are always giving me weird dietary suggestions. Apparently now, we're putting mushroom powder into things...? Anyway, food trends are nothing new, and there's been a big one hanging around for more than thirty years, since the book Fit for Life hit the shelves in 1985. I'm referring to the concept of food combining--the belief that eating certain foods together impedes digestion and pH balance, resulting in less-than-optimal wellness.

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Food combining is one of those ideas that has been pretty soundly debunked by science but has lots of anecdotal support. Here are the basic guidelines:
  • Fruit should be eaten alone, on an empty stomach, 15-30 minutes before other foods.
  • Starches may be consumed with all raw and cooked vegetables.
  • Animal proteins should be paired with non-starchy vegetables only.
Some plans get even more specific:
  • Do not eat carbohydrates with acids such as citrus or tomatoes.
  • Do not combine protein sources. Sorry, no surf and turf or cheesy omelettes.
  • Proteins should not be consumed with fats. One of the examples is not to eat oil with nuts. Wait, what? Nuts are basically oil.
  • Melons should not be eaten with any other foods.
I tried food combining this week, and I'm not a convert. Even stripped down to the easiest rules, it was more challenging than my vegan week--probably because, unlike veganism, I just couldn't buy into the principles behind food combining. It was also inconvenient and a little stressful, neither of which results in enjoyable mealtimes.

Science seems pretty clear that humans evolved as opportunistic omnivores capable of digesting "mixed meals" on a regular basis. As for the people who swear by food combining, perhaps part of their success comes from an overall healthier diet and more mindful eating. 

For improved digestion, the general consensus is that we should all eat more slowly, eat less, and eat fewer processed foods, especially sugar and damaged fats. And not worry about eating an apple on an empty stomach.

This week is a Leave It.

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  1. Agree with your take that we should eat less, less sugar/processed foods, eat more slowly and would add...enjoy it more :)