It's Not the Buildup That's Toxic- The Truth About Food Combining

by Raegan Cleary

Move over Keto, there’s a new and even more restrictive fad diet taking over social media. Food combining, the act of eating certain foods together or separated to improve digestion and rid the body of “toxic buildup” is nothing new, it’s been around for literally thousands of years. However, it recently regained popularity thanks to Nutritionist Kenzie Burke and many other YouTubers and influencers.

While Burke is a certified Nutritionist, it’s important to note that the title doesn't really mean much, “Nutritionist” is not government regulated, ANYONE can call themselves one, and they don’t even need formal training. Even if a Nutritionist has completed a training program, unless they are able to register with the Commission on Dietetic Registration, which would legally give them the title of Dietitian, it doesn’t hold much accreditation.

Food combining is based on very little science. Some of the rules of food combining include:

  • Only eat fruit on an empty stomach

  • Don’t combine starches and proteins

  • Don’t combine starches with acidic foods

  • Don’t combine different types of proteins

  • Only consume dairy on an empty stomach- especially milk

  • Protein should not be mixed with fat

  • Sugar should only be eaten alone

  • Fruits and vegetables should only be eaten separately

  • Many people who do food combining also end their night with detox tea (which is also pretty unhealthy)

Burke’s logic behind food combining is that when you combine slow-digesting foods with fast-digesting foods it creates a “traffic jam” in your stomach, which causes health problems like bloating and sluggishness. Dietitian Abbey Sharp points out that that digestion isn’t a one-way street, but actually a six-lane highway. Instead, the body sends out messages to get the proper enzymes needed to digest whatever food was just eaten. Whole foods, like vegetables, don’t contain just one component in them anyway, most have a combination of fats, proteins, and carbs, making Burke’s rules impossible to follow.

Another huge concern with food combining is that the rules seem to mimic Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder- an eating disorder that can cause serious health issues, including electrolyte imbalance and cardiac arrest.

For those looking into starting a healthy lifestyle, fad diets like food combining aren’t the way to do it. The best way to get healthy is by eating a balanced diet and staying away from too much-added fat or sugar.