Food Combining – What’s It All About

Lots and lots of diets and ways of eating come and go as fads – but one eating plan has been been around for well over a hundred years, and it has steadily gained credence.

So much so that it has stealthily become an integral part of many other healthy eating plans that have been developed more recently.

Food Combining

The eating plan I’m talking about is Food Combining, sometime referred to as the Hay Plan, after Dr William Howard Hay who came up with this way of eating for good health in the first place around for well over a hundred years, and it has steadily gained credence.

So much so that it has stealthily become an integral part of many other healthy eating plans that have been developed more recently. The idea of food combining is really very simple… but it’s not particularly easy until you get both your mind and your body used to it.

So What Is Food Combining All About?

In food combining there are really only 3 categories of food – carbohydrates, proteins, and neutrals. And the “plan” simply consists of keeping your carbohydrates and your proteins for separate meals – the neutrals can be eaten alongside anything.

There are no restrictions on how much you can eat, and there’s no counting calories… in fact “fats” are classed as neutral, and while you’re not encouraged to overload on the fats, they’re not viewed as the source of all evil as they are in many other diets.

There is of course more to the plan than this, but for most people, just using the rule of keeping proteins and starches separate will be enough to make a difference.

So how and why is it meant to work?

Well, one of the things I like about Food Combining is that it’s focus is on health and energy rather than just focussing on weight loss. The concept is based around the fact that proteins and carbohydrates need very different environments in order to be broken down and fully digested.

Food combination takes into account the area and complexity of digestion of each food, to ensure it goes through your entire digestive system with ease – Dr. Mercola

So when Proteins arrive in our stomach, our system produces a very acidic mixture of digestive juices, because proteins need to be broken down in acid. On the other hand, carbohydrates begin to be broken down in the saliva in the mouth, creating an alkali mixture, which then goes into the stomach, before passing on to the small intestine where it will continue to be digested if it has been broken down enough already.

Now you don’t need to be a grade A science student to remember that Acids and Alkalis are opposites. So if, in the middle of an acid rich environment, you add some alkali in the form of the chewed up starchy food, they will cancel each other out.

In other words, put both carbohydrates and proteins into your stomach at the same time, and neither are likely to be thoroughly broken down before they pass through into the intestines.

On the other hand, if we keep proteins and carbohydrates separate, they can be fully and thoroughly broken down in the right digestive mixture, so our bodies can access all of the nutrients from them. This way we utilise more from our food, we build up less waste, and we process everything in a quicker, cleaner, more efficient way.

It is suggested that eating this way has many general health benefits, as well as helping to banish cravings and indigestion, achieve our body’s ideal weight (either gaining or losing weight depending on what our bodies need) and even get rid of flatulence!

OK – sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? If we want to thoroughly break down and get the most out of our food, all we need to do is eat proteins and carbohydrates at separate meals.

The Only Problem…

is that with our modern diet, many of the things we automatically put together mix proteins and carbohydrates. Just think about your typical hamburger – the burger is protein, the bread roll is carbohydrate. Spaghetti Bolognese? Ground beef in the Bolognese is protein, the pasta is carbohydrate.

Even your traditional meat and two veg – it’s fine if you don’t have potatoes with it – and who doesn’t like rich creamy mash with their lamb chops? Even the simple sandwich more often than not has meat, fish, cheese or eggs in it…

The undigested food stays in your digestive tract and putrefies, creating a toxic environment that makes your blood more acidic and allows yeast, viruses, cancer cells and parasites to grow inside you. In essence, your inner ecosystem is damaged and you are more prone to illness. – Body Ecology

So, we’re back to the fact that it’s a simple concept, but not easy to put into practice.

If you add to that the fact that food combining suggests that we shouldn’t drink within half an hour of either the start or the end of a meal (as it just dilutes the digestive juices), then we’ve got another big habit to break in order to make this work.

Is Food Combining A Fallacy?

There are plenty of scientists out there who will maintain that the idea of food combining is a fallacy. But interestingly enough I’ve yet to read such a comment from a scientist who has actually looked at the real detail behind food combining.

For example, some will say, “this is nonsense – most of our food has a mixture of carbohydrates and proteins in it anyway, so we can’t truly separate these foods out. Take most fruits and vegetables – they are full of complex carbohydrates and plant proteins. How do we separate them?”

But if they just looked a little closer into food combining, they would immediately see that it refers to concentrated carbohydrates and concentrated proteins. So to count as a protein in terms of food combining, a food has to be made up of at least 20% protein. Similarly for carbohydrates.

Food Combining Is A Fascinating Approach…

to nutrition which has been adopted into many eating plans, and I expect to write a lot more about it in the future, including how to make it easier to tackle. But, simply because of my own very positive experiences with this way of eating (which I also plan to tell you about in the future!) I would really encourage you to take a closer look at Food Combining if you get the chance.

And if you do nothing else, I would really encourage you to adopt the food combining approach to not eating and drinking at the same time.

Even on its own, simply avoiding drinking anything for half an hour before a meal, and for 30 to 40 minutes after a meal, seems to make a difference to how well I digest my meals, and how comfortably they sit in my stomach. I’d love to know if you find the same.

Resources For Food Combining

Here are a few resources/books which I’ve read which can provide a lot more insight and detail than I can provide in this article although I plan to cover this subject in more depth and detail in future articles. In the meantime I recommend you check out these two books.

The Complete Book of Food Combining: A New, Easy-to-Use Guide to the Most Successful Diet Ever. – This book does a great job of explaining the concept of food combining and prepares you for changing to this way of eating.

The Food Combining Cookbook: Over 70 Simple, Healthy Recipes for Every Occasion (The Healthy Eating Library) – If you’re looking for a cookbook with some great recipes in it than I recommend you check out this one.

Feel free to leave me a comment below and let me know your experience good or bad. I would love to hear the tribe’s thoughts on the whole Food Combining subject.