proper food combining…


I have been mentioning Proper Food Combining in a couple posts lately, so I am super excited to finally share with you the basics! My boyfriend and I have been trying it out the last few weeks for health reasons and although we haven’t been perfect, we love it so far and I can feel it starting to become a natural tendency. To explain all the who/what/where/why of food combining, I have enlisted my good friend and nutritionist, Kara Reagan from Population Organic. (Don’t forget to click the chart above, print and pin to your refrigerator as a cheat sheet!)

Annie: So what is food combining?  

Kara: Basically, it is a system of eating foods that combine together efficiently to assist digestion so that your digestive tract doesn’t have to work so hard to break down foods to get you the nutrients you need for energy.  

A: How do I know if I should try it?

K: Does this sound like you, “I’m just feeling tired, bloated and I have terrible digestion”?  If so, you’re not alone!  In fact, indigestion is quickly becoming one of American’s greatest health concerns.  But if you know/follow the rules of food combining, you can easily solve any digestive issues that you might be experiencing.  

A: Okay, so break it down for me.

K: When you eat animal proteins – like poultry, fish, meat and eggs – your stomach secretes enzymes which create a highly acidic environment. When you eat starches – like potatoes or bread – your stomach creates an alkaline condition. Therefore, if you eat proteins and starches together, they tend to neutralize each other and inhibit digestion. This means the whole digestive process slows down, thus wasting your body’s energy and resources on breaking down meals rather than cleansing and renewing. 

In addition, the poorly-digested food travels through the digestive tract reaching the intestines where it putrefies and produces gas, bloating and causes your blood to become acidic. It also provides a welcome environment for disease-causing pathogens!  Eek!

A: Ew! That sounds terrible. What can I do?

K: So here are the rules of the game. There are four basic categories of food combining:

  1. Starches
  2. Animal Protein
  3. Nuts/seeds/ diet fruit
  4. Fresh fruit

These four categories of foods should not mix with one another in the stomach (in the same meal or in too short a time period before or after a meal). For example:

  • Starches should not mix with animal proteins.
  • Animal protein should not mix with nuts/seeds/dried fruits.
  • Nuts/seeds/dried fruits should never come in contact with starches.
  • Fresh fruit should be eaten alone and first thing in the morning. However, you can mix it with raw vegetables (like green smoothies).
  • The first three categories maybe mixed with unlimited amounts of raw vegetables.
  • The first two categories may be mixed with cooked vegetables as well.
  • After you’ve eaten, wait three to four hours before switching food groups.

A: So basically, what you’re saying is I can’t eat the main categories together, but I can eat any of the categories with vegetables?

K: Yes! And It’s important to note the neutrals or foods that can be enjoyed with any category.  The neutrals include all raw vegetables, all cooked, low starch vegetables, fats like olive oil, butter, coconut oil, etc., condiments, nut milks and dark chocolate. 

A: Phewf, I’m so glad you said chocolate. So, is this going to suck?

K: This might seem complicated, but it’s really quite easy once you get the hang of it!  Try it for a week, and you’ll see how easy it can be.  Don’t worry if you mess up.  You don’t have to be perfect.  Remember, at the end of the day it’s all about feeling good!! 

For more information on food combining, I recommend The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gate or The Raw Food Detox Diet, by Natalia Rose.

A huge thank you to Kara Reagan! If you have any additional questions or just want to know more, feel free to email her at Also, click the chart above to enlarge, print and pin onto your refrigerator!