For the most part, mealtime combines different types of food to create a variety of nutritional components that tend to taste good together. We’ve been taught from an early age to have a plate with a protein, a starch, and a vegetable.

Now we might not stick to that exact food combination formula but we combine our foods in all sorts of ways. We put fruit in our salads and top our meat with dairy and compotes. Sure these combinations might help us get our daily recommended allowances for proteins, fruits and vegetables, but is it good for us?

Dr. Wayne Pickering, a naturopathic physician, doesn’t think so. He says, “Improper food combining is one of the primary factors that cause gas, flatulence, heartburn, and upset stomach. What’s worse, poor digestion can also contribute to malnutrition, even if you think you’re eating a decent diet.”

Dr. Pickering believes our bodies are designed to be healthy. And if we follow some natural eating principles, our bodies will not only maintain its health but heal itself when needed.

“Nutrition doesn’t heal. It doesn’t cure. It doesn’t do anything,” Dr. Pickering says. “It’s a science though, and it never changes. Here’s what nutrition is: it’s a series of four processes that your body employs to make food materials for the body to use.”

There are three major food combining rules you should consider when eating.

No proteins and starches in the same meal.

No fruits and vegetables in the same meal.

Always eat melon alone.

With those rules in mind, here are five food combinations you want to avoid eating:

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs are a classic protein-starch combination that inhibits proper digestion. Because protein and starches are digested differently by the body, the body is forced to choose to digest the protein allowing the starch to sit in the stomach and ferment. Try eating your spaghetti with lightly sauteed vegetables instead or topping a salad with some meatballs.

Prosciutto and Melon

Prosciutto and melon are a very popular appetizer today. Unfortunately, it is recommended that melon be eaten alone. Melons do not digest well when paired with other foods. It is best to eat them as a snack or as an appetizer without any sides.

Turkey and Cranberry Sauce

While a lovely combination for the taste buds around the holidays, fruit and meat do not mix well when it comes to keeping the digestive system happy. Fruit does not require digestion, and much like starch it will sit in your gut and ferment while your body is busy breaking down the protein. Think about using cranberries as an appetizer instead.

Ham and Cheese Omelette

Protein-rich combinations put an enormous strain on your digestive system. Focus on one protein per meal to decrease the energy and time needed for proper digestion. One single concentrated protein per meal is easier to digest and won’t require as much energy. A vegetable omelet is a good alternative.

Charcuterie Plate/Board

A common appetizer found on many menus, A charcuterie board appears to be a healthy and wholesome choice. Mixing fruit, meat, dairy, and candied nuts will drain your energy and leave you bloated. Choose between a fruit plate or vegetable plate instead.

Besides food combinations, Dr. Pickering also suggests that when you eat your foods and the amount of foods you eat are also important.

For instance:

Breakfast: Eat the largest amount of the least concentrated foods. Fruits are ideal for your morning meal.

Lunch: Eat less than the morning and focus on complex carbohydrates. Starchy carbs are a good choice for your midday meal.

Dinner: Smaller portions are a rule of thumb for evening and should be heavy in protein.

We tend to choose our food combinations based on how good they taste together. The question is, what is more, important, the taste or how you feel for hours, sometimes even days following a meal?

We’ve mentioned some of the short-term effects of less than ideal food combinations but what about the long-term effects? Bad food combinations can lead to chronic bad breath, inflammation, poor sleep, lack of energy and long-term digestion issues.

Everyone is different, and everyone’s body will respond differently to bad food combinations. Discomfort following a meal seems to be accepted as part of a good meal, but would you make the same dietary choices knowing you can alleviate the discomfort?

Use the simple food combination advice presented here for two weeks and see how you feel.

It certainly can’t hurt, but it definitely may help you have more energy, better sleep, and you might even find yourself a bit lighter when stepping on the scale. The only way to know if food combining is right for you is to give it a try.