The concept of food combining — eating or not eating different food groups in combination in an effort to control digestion and promote weight loss — has been on trend for a few years now. There are different variations on the diet, but it usually involves not eating protein and starches together and eating fruit on its own. Is this a scientifically sound way of eating or just another diet fad? Alberta Health Services (AHS) dietitian Caitlin Wallis has some answers:
Q: When people talk about food combining, what exactly does that mean?
It’s an eating pattern where foods are supposed to be eaten in a certain order and combination. It’s supposed to be a way to achieve optimal digestion, based on the idea that different foods digest at different rates in the body and they need different digestive environments. The main claim is that protein and carbohydrates are digested by different enzymes and that if you eat them together it causes digestive issues.
Q: Does it actually work?
No. It really doesn’t make a difference. Most foods are a combination of nutrients like carbohydrates and protein within themselves. Our digestive system is designed to break down meals, and your nutrients are absorbed at different spots along your digestive tract. If you eat carbohydrates and protein together, they’re not competing for absorption. Everything’s going to be digested fully and absorbed along your digestive tract.
Q: Do you see any benefits to this kind of diet? Is it potentially dangerous?
I don’t think it’s potentially dangerous, but it’s not necessary and I think it creates a lot more anxiety and worry about eating when you have to follow so many rules. That takes away from the social aspect of eating, which is so important. Sitting down as a family or with friends to have meals in a relaxed environment is really important to help enjoy quality time with others, share food traditions and/or explore new healthy foods you might not normally try.
4 Quick Tips From Canada’s Food Guide To Create And Maintain A Healthy Diet
- Eat plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grain foods and plant-based protein
- Drink more water
- Limit highly processed foods
- Cook at home more often and share meals with friends and family
Learn more at canada.ca