Food Combining

This way of eating is based on the philosophy that the body’s digestive system works better if proteins & carbohydrates are not eaten together, as they use different digestive enzymes & take different periods of time to digest. Although the body can break down both at the same time, it does place more strain on the digestive & eliminative systems. So it makes sense to at least consider this eating style, if your digestive system is not working at it’s optimum.

Most of the principles are very sensible – involving eating more fruits & raw veges, more whole foods & less refined foods, less preservatives, and not overloading the digestive system. If some of the guidelines are used to fine-tune a healthy eating plan, this could work very well. However, care needs to be taken not to go to extremes. You are the expert on your own body. Trust it – try things out gradually & monitor your reactions.

For example, it is recommended that nothing but fruit is eaten before midday, as this is when the liver is doing it’s job of cleansing. If you are Agriculturist metabolic type, this could work well. If you are Hunter-Gatherer metabolic type or have fluctuating blood sugar levels, this would be disastrous. (If you are Hunter-gatherer, I would not recommend food combining at all. If you are Agriculturist, try it with care.)

Anyone with candida also needs to be careful not to have too much sugar, and although refined sugars are the main problem, too much fruit should also be avoided until the level of candida has been reduced.

Care also needs to be taken by people who have a very cold (yin) constitution, especially if they have a deficient stomach. A lot of fruits & raw veges are cooling foods and it could be very easy to tip an already precarious digestive system over the edge. Choose some of the more coloured salad veges, like radishes, red cabbage or carrots as these are less likely to be cooling.

Some basic principles:


  • Drink lots of water, but as much as possible should be between meals.
  • Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. If fresh food is unavailable, frozen is preferable to tinned, as preservatives are not generally added to frozen foods. Be careful about the amount of dried food eaten, as it will be very concentrated.
  • Eat fruit by itself on an empty stomach, at least three hours after other foods. First thing in the morning is good. Fruit digests very quickly & if eaten too soon after other foods, it will be delayed in the digestive tract & will ferment.
  • Eat lots of non-starchy vegetables, preferably raw.
  • Eat protein with non-starchy vegetables only. Protein does not mix well with fats & oils, or carbohydrates.
  • Eat carbohydrates with non-starchy vegetables & fats/oils. Do not eat with protein.
  • Allow 2-3 hours between a carbohydrate & a protein meal
  • Allow at least 3 hours between a protein meal & a carbohydrate meal
  • Juices are excellent, but should also be taken on an empty stomach. Fruit juice should be taken at least 3 hours after other foods, preferably first thing in the morning. Vegetable juice should be taken at least 2 hours after other foods. With the exception of apple & lemon juice, DO NOT mix fruit in with your vegetable juice.
  • Time taken to digest (i.e. the time in the stomach & small intestine):
      • Proteins – 12 hours
  • Fats & Oils – 12 hours
  • Carbohydrates – 5 hours
  • Non-starchy veges – 5 hours
  • Sweet fruits – 3 hours
  • Other fruits – 2 hours
  • Total time taken to pass through the system should be approximately 18-24 hours. If food passes through the system too fast, there will not be enough time for the nutrients to be absorbed. If it takes too long, there is more chance of toxins passing out into the rest of the body.


Supplements that may assist digestion:


  • Fruit – no enzymes needed
  • Protein – Betaine HCl & Pepsin eg. Twinlab, NSP Protein Digest Aid
  • Carbohydrates
    • If cold, a plant based enzyme combination eg. NSP Proactazyme, Nature’s Way Enzymes
    • If hot, will destroy enzymes. So try something like peppermint tea or NSP Papayamint chewables ½ an hour before meal to stimulate own digestive juices
    • If the meal includes oats, beans or other carbohydrates that have a protein component, a small amount of Betaine HCl could be helpful


Other supplements:


  • Herbal supplements are like veges, so can be taken with any meal.
  • If taking essential fatty acids (e.g. Evening Primrose or Flaxseed oils) in capsule form, always take with a carbohydrate meal.
  • Vitamin & mineral supplements should be taken with a protein meal, if they are in tablet form, as this will give them more time to break down. Capsules can be taken with any meal, probably better with a carbohydrate meal.