Food combining is one of the more controversial ideas in nutrition and dietetics, but just because it’s controversial doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t work. Indeed, you’ll find lots of anecdotal evidence supporting the idea of food combining, and in one respect, it makes a kind of intuitive sense. Currently mainstream science generally rejects the idea of food combining, yet, many people swear by it. Sometimes the only way to know for sure is to try it out and see if it works for you! So, if you’ve been interested in food combining, how it works and the purported benefits, then this simple guide – and that’s all it is: guidelines – will give you everything you need to get started (and remember to check with your doctor before you make any dietary changes).

Food combining is almost as important as eating healthy. Almost! When we fail at the task of combination we end up with…

  • Incomplete digestion
  • Upset digestive enzymes
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Cramps and constipation
  • Malabsorption
  • Indigestion

… Amongst many other digestive issues!

Correct food combining is so important because some foods are digested by the body much faster than others. Certain foods also require different digestive enzymes or conditions in the gut. For example; proteins need acid digestive juices while carbohydrates need alkaline juices.

Overall, there are four main food groups:

Group 1: Proteins

Meat, eggs, poultry, nuts, cheese, fish and milk.

Group 2: Carbohydrates

All Grains and starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn.

Group 3: Vegetables

Leafy greens and all non-starchy vegetables, oils, roots, herbs, seeds and spices.

Group 4: Fruit

Including all dried fruit also.

When we choose foods from these four groups, we really need to use the process of food combining to reap optimal benefits from the food we ingest. So, in very straightforward terms, the process of food combination is outlined below.

  • Group 3 should NOT be eaten in combination with Groups 1 and 2!

    Vegetables should not be combined with Proteins or Carbohydrates.

  • Group 4 must ALWAYS be eaten alone at least 30 minutes either side of other foods

    Fruit is really best eaten alone. In fact, it’s best eaten in the mornings, before any other foods, on an empty stomach. The problem with eating fruit with any other food types is fermentation. Fruit is the fastest food group to be digested by the body. Therefore, if fruit is eaten directly after a meal, it gets stuck behind the other food groups which take longer to digest and ferments in the gut which inevitably leads to bloating, cramping and ingestion.

    Also, melons should never be mixed with other fruits as they are the fastest of all fruits to be digested.

  • Group 2 and Group 1 should not be eaten together

    Carbohydrates take the body approximately two hours to digest (from mouth to bowel) whereas proteins take approximately four hours. Again, if these are eaten together we can expect fermentation which leads to digestive problems.

“So what can we combine or are we supposed to eat all food groups alone?!”

Optimally yes, we should eat from only one food group at a time. That way, our food is digested properly and we can reap the maximum nutritional benefits from what we ingest. However, most people don’t like to eat just a lump of protein on its own, so for larger meals, good combinations are as follows:

  • Grains with Vegetables (ie: Rice, Quinoa, Millet, Seeds)
  • Beans and Pulses with Vegetables (ie: Kidney, Pinto, Chick peas, Lentils, etc)
  • Fish and Meat with a small portion of non-starchy vegetables

Ever wondered why after eating a meal you’re bloated, belching, even gassy or feeling like you’re in a food coma? That’s all down to food combination.

Correct food combination has been proven time and time again to aid weight-loss, energy levels, cell regeneration and organ repair, digestive disorders such as IBS, gluten and dairy intolerances and even muscle building.

There is no use in buying good, expensive, organic produce and then combining the wrong food groups. We won’t absorb the nutrients our bodies’ need from our meals!

Be smart, eat smart!

Megan O'Neill

Megan O'Neill is a musician, psychologist, nutrition advisor and an absolute health-nut! She currently resides in London, but - as you may have guessed from the name - is originally from Ireland. Six years ago, following an incredible trip to Asia, she suddenly became very ill with IBS, food intolerances and chronic fatigue. No-one could have predicted how that fateful trip would... Read More

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