If you’ve never heard about food combining, it can feel overwhelming. But don’t stress! Once you learn and implement these practices regularly they will naturally become a part of your lifestyle and you won’t even have to think about it anymore. If you have heard about it, maybe you’ve ignored it, or tried it for a while, then forgotten about it.
As someone who struggled with digestive issues for a long time, when I learned about proper food combining techniques, I jumped on board straight away and I can tell you, it has dramatically improved my digestion, my health and my life! The key to achieving the benefits is to implement the techniques regularly. Consistency is key.
I want to make it clear that these are not strict rules whereby if you do eat an improper combination you will suffer forever. If you do that once in a while it’s totally okay. (I do!) The aim is to understand and cultivate awareness about what foods you’re combining, and incorporate these guidelines at least 90% of the time to help optimise digestion so you can feel your best.
What is food combining?
Food combining is the practice of eating meals containing ingredients which are symbiotic and digest better together than others. Different types of foods digest at different rates and with different enzymes. Some foods digest better in an acidic environment, while others digest better in an alkaline environment. Eating foods in the correct combination prevents traffic jams in the digestive tract and ensures optimal digestion so you can absorb the nutrients efficiently, achieve maximum wellness and ultimately feel your best.
Is food combining real?
Now you might be thinking “Yeah I’ve heard of all this before, but is it actually true and does it really make a difference?”
Honestly, no one actually knows the total process of digestion, but I love to learn from personal experience, not just science. I can tell you that from my experience and many other peoples’ stories, practicing food combining on a regular basis makes a big positive difference to your health. So why not try it for a good few weeks and see how you feel? You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I also like to look at nature for answers, and have found that no other species except humans, forage for different ingredients then mix them all up before consumption. Other animals eat one food at a time until they are satisfied.
Side effects of improper food combining
Improper food combinations result in you getting a “traffic jam” in your belly, causing heartburn, upset stomach and fermentation, and consequently producing gas and alcohol. This creates an acid and toxic environment, and is perfect for the growth of bad bacteria and disease. What’s worse, poor digestion can also contribute to malnutrition.
Benefits of proper food combining
Following the food combining guidelines will allow for easier and more effective digestion, it will reduce bloating, gas and indigestion and bring your entire body back into balance.
Different foods have different rates of digestion, and respecting this process and eating foods in easy-to-digest combinations ensures that things flow smoothly all the way through the colon without getting stuck and fermenting. When digestion is optimised, nutrients are assimilated efficiently, toxins are eliminated properly, and energy is freed up for other metabolic functions.
With food combining you’ll find yourself eating simpler meals that nourish your body and digest more easily, leading to an uptake of nutrients. As your digestion improves, you’ll have more energy and vitality, and free up energy for your body to cleanse, heal and naturally lose weight.
This is one of my favourite benefits! It is the accumulated result from the benefits above. Optimal digestion leads to less bloating, effortless and increased weight loss, giving you a flatter tummy.
Reduce your risk of candida overgrowth
When you eat several foods that digest at different rates, it causes constrictions in your stomach and food begins to rot and ferment. This is particularly important when it comes to sweet fruit and fat – this is a big no-no! This combination clogs the bloodstream because sugar digests quicker than fat, causing a blood sugar imbalance. Subsequently the candida comes along to eat up the excess sugar (which by the way is the candida saving you), bringing your blood sugar back into balance. When this happens regularly it causes an overgrowth and imbalance of good and bad bacteria. So by eating simply and with proper food combinations you avoid fermentation and keep your good and bad bacteria in a healthy balance.
I solely promote a plant based lifestyle, so here are the main principles for food combining on a vegan diet. If you choose to consume animal products, I’ve added notes about that below.
Main food combining principles
Fruit: All fruit is best eaten alone and on an empty stomach. If you want to mix fruits then follow the preceding guidelines.
Sweet Fruit: This includes low water content fruits like bananas, dates, custard apples and all dried fruit etc. They are best mixed with sub-acid fruits. The exception to this rule is melons because they digest very quickly and always need to be eaten alone.
Sub-acid Fruit: This includes semi-sweet fruits like mangoes, papayas, berries, apples, pears etc. They are best mixed with sweet fruit and acid fruit.
Acid Fruit: These are the more sour fruits like lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, pineapples etc. They are best mixed with sub-acid fruit and fats.
Fats: Fat sources include nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut, oils, olives etc. These are best combined with acid fruit and starches.
Starches: Starchy foods include things like potatoes, sweet potatoes, grains, pasta, carrot, beetroot etc. These are okay when mixed with leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables.
Greens + Non-Starchy Vegetables: These includes kale, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, onion, garlic, mushrooms, seaweed etc. They are best mixed with starches and protein.
Protein: Protein sources are lentils, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, miso, nuts and seeds etc. They are okay mixed with greens and non-starchy vegetables.
Nuts and seeds fall into two categories; protein and fats. They will always feel fine with greens, but I’d suggest experimenting how they feel in your body when mixed with starches.
Animals products like chicken, beef and eggs fall into the protein category. Dairy would fall into the fat category, but only combines well with acid fruit and green non-starchy vegetables – do not mix with starches.
Do these guidelines relate to smoothies?
This is an interesting question which seems to differ from person to person. Personally I am fine mixing any types of fruits together e.g. acid fruit mixed with sub-acid and sweet fruit. Most people (including myself) are absolutely fine mixing leafy greens (kale, spinach etc.) with all types of fruit in a smoothie. Although I don’t recommend combining sweet fruits with fat in a smoothie e.g. banana with avocado or nuts and seeds, many people seem to feel fine doing this from time to time. Basically, I think you can be more lenient with smoothies as the fibre is broken down and pre-digested for the body. It’s easy to get over-excited and throw everything from your fridge into a smoothie, but again, simple is best, so hold your horses and show some restraint for the health of your digestion 😉
We can learn to choose food combinations more wisely so that we achieve an uptake in nutrition which helps the body build and repair itself more effectively.
Keep in mind these are the general principles for you to find your own unique way to feel your best. It’s important to listen to your body. Remember, if you don’t feel good after consuming a particular combination, simply don’t have that combination again.
Following these guidelines will help you prevent digestive issues, increase your energy, maximise weight loss and create optimal well-being for a healthy life!
Example of a good food combining day
Option #1: Mono meal of fruit e.g. watermelon or mangoes
Option #2: Smoothie with leafy greens, mango, banana and coconut water
Option #3: Smoothie with leafy greens, avocado, berries and water
Option #1: Salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, avocado, mustard + apple cider vinegar dressing
Option #2: Quinoa salad with raw/cooked veggies, tahini + lemon juice dressing
Option #1: Arugula salad with raw/cooked veggies topped with a baked sweet potato and avocado
Option #2: Brown rice and cooked vegetables
Option #1: Carrot and zucchini sticks with guacamole
Option #2: Celery sticks with almond butter