Food Combining

Back in the mid 1980s I heard something about a “food combining” diet.

Friendly's Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sundae

Friendly’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundae

From what I understood, the diet was based on eating a single food group per meal and not combine the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups with each other.  I had no idea what the basis was for this diet but it sounded intriguing.  It was summer at the time and I thought, okay, how about a dairy dinner?  I mentioned this to my then teenager daughter, Christine, and my mother who was in her 70’s.  Sure, they were game; why not? So the plan was that we would go to the gourmet ice cream shop in our little town center for an appetizer ice cream cone.  Then walk around a bit, do a little shopping, and then head over to Friendly’s (regional ice cream shop and restaurant) for our main meal….an ice cream sundae.  Couldn’t do better with this food combining concept than that! 

All was going as planned.  The cones were delicious.  The evening was beautiful and we walked around doing some window shopping.  As the sun was starting to set we headed around the corner and up the block to Friendly’s.  Business was booming, but we found a booth and started perusing the menu.  “Okay, what kind of sundae are you going to have?” I asked both mother and daughter.  “I think I’m going to have a cheeseburger and fries” my mother said.  Shocked, I said “You can’t do that!  You have to have ice cream or you won’t be following the diet!”  My mother indicated that she couldn’t stomach having any more ice cream and she was having a cheeseburger and fries.  End of discussion.  My daughter piped in that she, too, was going to have a cheeseburger and fries. I couldn’t believe it.  I feebly attempted to disuade them from making this huge mistake but without success.  So I ordered my hot fudge sundae and they ordered their burger and fries.  I have to admit that the sundae on top of the large cone I had earlier was a bit much but I was determined to stick to this diet come hell or high water. 

Toward the end of dinner, Christine mentioned that she saw a friend working at the cash register.  I looked around and saw him and was surprised at how much weight he had lost.  He used to be a chubby, adorable little boy and now he was a slim, good-looking, teenager. We went over to pay our bill and I commented to him how great he looked and asked him how he lost the weight.  He smiled and said “Fit for Life”! 175px-Fitforlifecover

“What is Fit for Life?” I asked. “It’s a food combining diet by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond.  They have a book out and the diet is truly amazing.  It’s so easy to follow, the weight just melted off me and I’ve never felt better.”  He went on for quite a while extolling the diet’s virtues. “See,” I said, “I had heard something about a food combining diet and that’s what we set out to do tonight.  We had gourmet ice cream cones for an appetizer and we were all supposed to have sundaes for dinner but I was the only one to stick to the plan.”  He gave me a look which seemed to indicate his disapproval.  “Just buy the book and read it,” he said.  You’ll be a convert to this way of eatting just as I was.” “Okay, I’m going to head over to the bookstore right now before they close and pick up a copy.”  And that was it…that’s how it all started.  I read the book and I was hooked. 

The following was taken from Wikipedia:  “Fit for Life (FFL) is a diet and lifestyle book series stemming from the principles of Natural Hygiene. It is promoted mainly by the American writers Harvey and Marilyn Diamond.[1] The Fit for Life book series recommends dietary principles including eating only fruit in the morning, eating predominantly “live” and “high-water-content” food, and if eating animal protein to avoid combining it with complex carbohydrates.

“The diet is based on Diamond’s exploration of Herbert M. Shelton theories of food combining. Both authors claimed to be able to bring about weight loss without the need to count calories or undertake anything more than a reasonable exercise program. In the first version of the program, Diamond claimed that if one eats the foods in the wrong combination they “cause fermentation” in the stomach. This in turns gives rise to the destruction of valuable enzymes & nutrients. Diamond categorized foods into two groups : “dead foods” that “clog” the body, and “living foods” that “cleanse” it. According to Fit for Life principles, dead foods are those that have highly refined or highly processed origins; while living foods are raw fruits and vegetables. The basic points of Fit for Life are as follows:[1]

  • Fruits are best eaten fresh and raw. Where possible they should be eaten alone.
  • Carbohydrates & Proteins should never be combined in the one meal.
  • Water dilutes stomach digestive juices and should never be drunk at meals.
  • Dairy products are considered of limited value and due to their allergic capacity, should seldom, if ever, be eaten”

It all made perfect sense.  I started eating nothing but fresh fruit for breakfast and combined my meals properly.  And I lost weight…more than 40 pounds.  It was easy and I never felt better.  Some critics claimed this was a fad diet and some nutritionists blasted it.  But it worked for me.  I still eat fresh fruit every morning.  However, I don’t routinely combine my food properly and I should.  I always feel better after a properly combined meal.

Salmon and Salad Plate

Salmon and Salad Plate

Although the emphasis is on eating fresh fruit and vegetables, this is not a vegetarian diet.  You can have steak and salad or seafood and salad.  You can have a baked potato with butter and salad or pasta and vegetables.  One of my favorite pasta dishes is a vegetable lo mein with lots of lightly sauteed fresh veggies, garlic and soy sauce.  Rice and beans are a perfect food combination, so says Mr. Diamond (although the beans are protein and the rice is a carbohydrate, they work together).  I make my rice and beans with brown rice and it is so satisfying.

Brown Rice and Black Beans

Brown Rice and Black Beans

Sometimes you might feel like having chips.  Then have a chopped vegetable salad plate with guacamole and/or salsa with tortilla chips or, my new favorite, lentil chips.  Another great meal is a Spanish omelet with salad (no cheese on that omelet).

Sometimes, however, you might crave cheese…I know I do.  Then have a Greek salad with lettuce, tomatoes, chopped vegetables, kalamata olives, pepperoncini and feta cheese.

Greek Salad

Greek Salad

I usually add marinated artichokes to my Greek salad.  My favorite brand is Mezzetta Grilled Artichokes.

Mezzetta Grilled Artichokes

Mezzetta Grilled Artichokes

Harvey and Marilyn frequently remind you through out the book “don’t over eat”.  That’s the problem.  Everything tastes delicious, you’re not counting calories, and you just want to continue eating.  You have to learn to eat slowly, savor every bite, and know when you’ve had enough. 

I’m not a nutritionist and certainly no expert in dieting.  All I know is that this diet worked for me and I do feel better after having a properly combined meal.  I strongly urge you to find a copy of the original “Fit For Life” book and read it.


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