1 October 2007

Busting Food Myths

Carbs and protein shouldn’t be eaten together
Popular nutritional myths exist about food combining – the theory that certain foods should not be eaten together, especially carbohydrates such as bread, potato and grains with proteins such as meat or fish. The theory also suggests that fruit should not be combined with anything.

There is no sound basis for these ideas, says nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton. If food combining theories were true, the human race would not have survived to this point, as many basic foods contain a combination of proteins and carbohydrates in the one food. This applies to foods such as beans, grains, seeds, nuts and breast milk. The only possible advantage to a diet that promotes these theories is that it might encourage people to eat more fruit and possibly eat less overall. But there is no evidence to support the notion that some foods should be separated. Every major cuisine in the world combines protein and carbohydrates on the same plate, from the traditional meat and potatoes, to Asian stir fry chicken with rice, Middle Eastern couscous with lamb and the Mediterranean use of bread with all meals. It is also a total myth that fruit should be eaten on its own. Fruit is the perfect complement to every meal.


When combining counts
  • Some nutrients are absorbed better if they are combined with others. For example, the iron in breakfast cereals, bread and legumes such as dried beans or chick peas is absorbed much better if fruit or vegetables which contain vitamin C are eaten in the same meal.
Food combinations to avoid
  • There are some foods which do not combine well. Tea prevents iron absorption, so it is best to drink it between meals rather than with food, unless the tea is weak.
  • Minerals such as calcium and iron compete for absorption, and the body does not properly absorb them when combined. If calcium or iron supplements are taken, iron tablets should be taken with meals and calcium should be taken just before going to bed. Nutrients are generally absorbed better from foods rather than supplements, and you'll find iron in meat or legumes plus seeds, grains and nuts. Calcium can be obtained from dairy products or calcium enriched soy beverages.
– Rosemary Stanton’s latest book, Healthy Eating for Australian Families includes over 170 recipes (many deliciously combining protein and carbohydrate like Lamb Kibbeh or Pork with Pears and Juniper Berries). Suitable for people with diabetes and a handy reference for parents, it's available in Australia, USA and the UK from major bookstores and Amazon.



Anonymous said...

Great commonsense - a rare commodity. I feel released to lead a normal life! Thanks, Rosemary.

Anonymous said...

I was obesely overweight and was told if I did not lose weight that I would be diabetic in 6 weeks. Intially I lost a lot of weight by being careful not to mix my carbs and protein and doing heaps of exercise. Now I have been the same weight (8 kgs lighter) for nearly 12 months I can afford to relax a little but I am still careful. Rosemary, I am amazed at how little publicity is given to the amount of sugar (both stated and hidden) in the foods we eat. I have been able to stay at my current weight be being conscious of the sugar (both natural and artificial) that I have been consuming. As my Orthomolecular Naturopath said to me I will never have to "diet" if I just watch my sugar intake. So by keeping my sugar intake below 5% (check the sugar content of the carb value on the back of packets under per 100g) I dont release too much insulin into my system to digest the sugar as it is the insulin that absorbs the fat from my food that makes me fat. I was amazed at how much sugar is in low fat foods and especially baby food - guess they have to do that to make it edible. When kids have ADD what is the first thing they take out of their diet - sugary foods. I have so much more energy now I am no longer overweight and addicted to sugar and carbs.