Food Combining – By Dr. Alan Christianson
This question came from Taylor. Taylor says, “I thought food combining (protein and carbs) isn’t good. Your book stresses to do so at each meal. What should I do?” Great question.
When I was probably in my later teens, a popular book on food combining came out, called Fit For Life, by Harvey Diamond. I devoured it (no pun intended) and tried all those principles. In the book, he describes food combining, but it is really food dividing, separating types of food. The basic principle is proteins and carbs shouldn’t mix; that if you divide them, instead of combining them, you’ll have fewer digestive symptoms.
I certainly have seen if someone has difficulty digesting overall, it helps to reduce the quantity of food or add a lot more vegetables to what they’re eating. The vegetables help alkalize the intestinal tract, so they can feel better. So, there’s no doubt that strategy may help some people with digestive symptoms.
For many people, the goal is to have steady blood sugar and good digestion. The nice thing about having protein and carbs is they digest more slowly. A lot of data shows that how fast a food enters your bloodstream determines whether or not it makes you lean or diabetic. The foods that enter your bloodstream quickly, give your body a bad workout. These foods cause you to make lots of stress hormones (like cortisol) and more insulin. They cause your blood sugar to go on a roller coaster. This leads to weight gain, weakened immunity and increased risk for chronic disease, causing you to feel poorly. Instead, you want to burn your food slowly, steadily and evenly.
If you have some digestive symptoms, definitely keep the number of foods lower. You can still have protein and carbs at each meal, but you don’t want 5-7 types of ingredients altogether in your dishes. Also, consider playing with your food quantity. Sometimes, having a lesser quantity of food can be easier to digest when you’re having difficulty. If you’re having smaller meals, you may want to eat more frequently. I’ve seen many do well with dividing up their healthy breakfast. They have some for breakfast and some in the mid-morning. They do the same thing for lunch. They make a good lunch and have some for lunch and some in the mid-afternoon. This strategy doesn’t actually help with weight loss like we used to think it did, but it is easier for those having difficulty processing foods. If your digestion works well, you don’t have to do that.
The advantage of food combining, rather than food dividing, is your blood sugar stays steadier, which helps your pancreas not to work quite as hard. So, by intentionally and strategically combining your foods, you can make your blood sugar steady and still have good digestion.
Thanks for the great question, Taylor!