Food Combinations

by Penny Hammond on September 1, 2009

in Food choice reasons

We might make food combination choices for reasons of health, or beliefs, or taste.

In the Middle Ages in Western Europe, it was normal to put fruits and sweet spices into meat dishes. This is still true in some North African and Chinese cuisines, but doesn’t happen so often any more in Western cuisines. We may think that certain foods “belong” with each other, and that sweet and savory tastes shouldn’t be combined of they just taste wrong.

Some diets advise against combining certain foods. The Hays diet in the 1920s set the precedent for many of these, and it’s a set of recommendations that comes in and out of fashion. The scientific name sometimes used for food combining is trophology. The basic idea is that your body isn’t designed to digest all different types of food at the same time. Your stomach needs a lot of acid for several hours to digest meat and animal proteins, but carbohydrate digestion needs an alkaline environment. There are detailed rules about which types of food can be eaten together (eg. proteins may be eaten with salads), and which should be eaten separately (eg. melons should not be eaten with any other foods).

Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system in India, advises against combining acid foods such as fruits together with milk, because of the belief that they will curdle in the digestive system. It also advises against eating a lot of cooked food and raw food together, and eating fresh foods with leftovers.

Under the Jewish Kosher system, meat and milk should not be mixed together, and a certain amount of time should pass between eating one and the other.

Sometimes it’s advised to combine foods to potentiate them – eating them separately brings benefits, but when eating them together 2+2=5. For example, pulses or beans and grains eaten together are said to provide the full spectrum of essential amino acids, the protein components we can’t produce ourselves and need to get from foods. Separately, each of them does not provide the full spectrum. Some vitamins are fat soluble – A, D, E, and K – and a small amount of fat is needed for them to be absorbed into the digestive system.

When you have combining, you have issues of timing, which are discussed separately.

Which foods do and don’t you eat together?

Print This Post Print This Post

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: