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Hay diet and food combining

Food Combining according to Dr Hay - Food Combining Diet

The Food Combining Theory and the Food Combining Diet.

The Hay Food Combining Diet was developed at the beginning of the 20 th Century by Dr. Howard Hay based on his personal experience.

According to the Food-Combining Theory illnesses are caused for two reasons:

  1. A wrong chemical condition of the body namely acidity:
    Dr. Hay assumes that concentrated foods (mostly foods containing carbohydrates or protein) cause the manufacturing and accumulation of acid in the body.
  2. Slow digestion as a result of the simultaneous consumption of proteins and carbohydrates: According to Dr. Hay the body cannot digest acid- forming as well as alkaline-forming foods at the same time. If they are eaten together, the carbohydrates will then ferment in the small intestines.

The theory of the Hay Food Combining Diet states that carbohydrates and proteins are meant to be eaten separately. According to Dr. Hay proteins need an acidic environment whilst carbohydrates need an alkaline environment if the body is to make use of them. These foods have to be eaten separately so that the carbohydrates do not interfere with the digestion of the proteins and vice versa. Hay recommends a 4 hour break in between meals.

The excessive consumption of acid-forming foods leads to acidity of the body which is claimed to be the cause of many "civilisation illnesses".

About 80% of the food used in the diet is meant to be alkaline-forming whilst 20% is to be acid-forming.

Categorising Food according to the Food Combining Theory.

Alkali forming foods are for e.g. fruits, vegetable and salad.
Acid forming foods are for e.g. meat, fish, cheese, eggs, fat, potatoes and wheat products.
Neutral foods include yoghurt, milk, curd cheese and nuts.

The Hay Food Combining Diet was developed to help prevent and heal illnesses. The food combining theory has been repeatedly altered to suit an energy reduced diet suited for weight loss.


Evaluation of the Food Combining Diet according to Dr. Hay:

"... therefore food combining does not have any attestable scientific purpose. In addition it is certain that:
- the combination of carbohydrates and proteins increases the biological value of protein.
- A strict separation of proteins and carbohydrates is impossible as almost all foods contain both elements." ("Stiftung Warentest" - a German Consumer Foundation - Comparison of 80 diets)

  • Food Combining Diet: Nowadays the Food Combining Diet is often offered as a nutrient reduction diet (Food Combining Diet). Weight loss is therefore no longer achieved according to the food combining theory. It is simply offered as a low calorie diet. Successful weight loss is therefore no longer achieved by using the food combining theory but instead by using a diet plan that consists of calorie reduced foods.
  • The high quantities of vegetables, salad and fruit make the diet low in both calories and fat. Reducing the acid-forming foods to 20% means that not enough wheat products are eaten. The supply of vitamin B, iron and dietary fibre therefore becomes critical and could lead to deficiencies.
  • The claim that almost all illnesses can be healed if the food combining method is used is wrong.
  • The theory that protein and carbohydrates cannot be digested at the same time has been proven to be wrong. This theory would be a little strange considering that breast milk is a mixture of proteins and carbohydrates.


The Complete Book of Food Combining: A New, Easy-to-Use Guide to the Most Successful Diet Ever, Kathryn Marsden

The Hay Diet Made Easy: A Practical Guide to Food Combining, Jackie Habgood

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