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Food Combining Chart

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guide to food combining with plate of detox spaghetti

Did you know that digesting food requires more energy than any other function in the human body? It’s no wonder we’re exhausted after a big lunch! It stands to reason, then, that the best way to free up some extra energy is to make our digestion as quick and efficient as possible.

Food combining is one of my favorite tricks to streamline the digestive process. Though food combining principles can get very complicated, depending on which expert you ask, I prefer to keep them simple. Simply pick just one dense food at each meal, whatever you’re craving most at that moment, and then fill the rest of your plate with raw and cooked non-starchy vegetables. Easy! By simplifying your meals, the digestive system doesn’t have to tackle too much in one sitting, helping you to avoid that bloated, sluggish feeling that can put a damper on the rest of your day.

Studies have shown that humans have a tendency to overeat when we are offered a wide variety of foods during a meal. (source) So, by simplifying our meals, we will naturally eat less, without counting calories or worrying about portion sizes.

Best of all, you don’t have to give up any food groups that you love– you just may not want to eat them all at the same time. The following guide should help!

food combining chart showing you how to properly combine foods(click on chart above to enlarge or print)

As you can see in the chart above, the foods have been divided into four general categories:

  • FRESH FRUIT
  • STARCH
  • ANIMAL PROTEIN
  • NUTS/SEEDS/DRIED FRUIT

Note: Look for these food combining labels clearly marked in my cookbooks, and here on the blog. All of the recipes in my cookbooks are properly combined, and both cookbooks include properly combined meal plans to help you easily get started. 

For a properly combined meal, simply choose ONE category and only eat foods out of that category for that particular meal. The foods listed within the same category combine well with each other, and you may also include anything from the “Neutral” column to fill out your plate.

Wait 3-4 hours between each meal, before switching categories.

Properly Combined Sample Meal Ideas

A properly-combined STARCH meal might look something like this:

A sandwich on whole-grain bread, filled with avocado, mustard, lettuce, tomato and sprouts. Served with a leafy side salad and a baked sweet potato topped with butter. You could follow this meal with some dark chocolate for dessert!

A properly-combined ANIMAL PROTEIN meal might look something like this:

A leafy green salad topped with cherry tomatoes and goat cheese, followed by a piece of baked fish served with a side of roasted broccoli and cauliflower. You could follow this meal with some dark chocolate or goat’s milk ice cream for dessert!

A properly-combined NUT/SEED/DRIED FRUIT meal might look something like this:

A leafy green salad topped with dried cranberries and raw walnuts, followed by a platter of raw hummus served with raw crudités. Dessert could be a slice of raw cheesecake, a few raw macaroons, or a couple raw almond butter cups!

FRESH FRUIT is best eaten in the mornings, on an empty stomach.

This is because fruit digests so quickly, typically within 30 minutes of eating. (However, fruit can be combined with leafy green vegetables in a green smoothie, if you like!) Fruit is not recommended as a dessert after a meal, as it could potentially cause fermentation, gas and bloating, and promote bacterial overgrowth in the body. You can eat fruit as an afternoon snack or post-workout, as long as it’s been 3-4 hours since your last properly-combined meal.

Note: There is a lot of debate over the science behind food combining, without much evidence to back it up. (There is little money to be made in this field, which probably accounts for the lack of funded studies.) Personally, I think why food combining works for me, and for many others, is that it encourages you to make better choices, without feeling restricted. When you’re choosing just ONE food category at a time, then filling the rest of your plate with raw and cooked vegetables, you’re bound to be making healthier choices! So, food combining may just work because it encourages the consumption of more whole foods and simpler meals.

I think it’s also important to note that there’s no need to be “perfect” with food combining rules all the time. I like to follow the 80/20 rule, because life’s too short to stress about what you’re eating.

For properly combined meal plans and entertaining menus, be sure to pick up a copy of my first cookbook, Everyday Detox.

My second cookbook, No Excuses Detox, has 3 more meal plans, including a Budget-Friendly properly combined meal plan that feeds you for less than $6 each day, and a Speedy Meal plan that has everything ready in 30 minutes or less. Both of my cookbooks are loaded with properly combined recipes to help make things easier for you.

Get more recipes + meal plans in my books:

detox book and meal plan

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Comments

Gail

Question about ground flax seed: Is it OK to combine with my daily oatmeal breakfast? I’ve also been adding 1/2 cup of blueberries without any discomfort. Sound OK to you?

    deb

    I have been eating bear naked fit granola with ground flaxseed,Chia seeds, organic coconut, a few walnuts and blueberries topped with kifer and have not seem to have any adverse effects as well. Wonder if the flax and kifer help to balance it out?

Joy

Hello Megan

Thanks for your info. I am just a little confused about your suggestion for a starch meal. I thought avocado and butter come under protein category. So how comes you combine those into a starch meal? Thanks

Joy

    Megan

    Nope, as you can see in the chart above, avocados fall into the “starch” or “fruit” categories. And butter is neutral, since it’s nearly all fat and used in small quantities.

      Joy

      on most food combining charts avocado is listed as a fat and so is butter . . . .

Tony C

Do you have a list of “starchy vegetables”?

Kris

I was wondering where beans (kidney beans, black beans, etc) would fall into the chart?

Thanks!

    Megan

    They are naturally miscombined (hence, why they are called the “musical fruit”) but can be considered more on the starchy-side for food combining purposes.

Ayesha .

Hi !
This is great information and thanks for that .

I heard that Apples are acidic and should not be taken on empty stomach , is that true ?

bel

Hi There, i’m curious with eating fruits on an empty stomach because they digest so quickly and therefore will ferment if eaten after meat, potatoes, etc … does the same not apply for salad? as salad digests quickly as well?

Semara

Hi there!

Thank you for this post :). The principles look quite similar to Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Food Pairing principles.

How does your daily meal plan look like when you follow this food combining ideals, also do you use protein shakes right after a workout?

Thanks again!

Maria Carolina Rueda

Hi Megan, just wanted to say that since I started following food combining principles, I’ve noticed that my IBS symptoms have been almost non-existent. I used to get terribly bloated and gassy after meals but by following food combining principles, I have greatly improved my digestion.

Sara

If you eat a meat meal, how long after can you eat fruit so it doesn’t rot in your intestines

Brianna

Would bread made from almond flour be in the nuts/seeds category?

nefel

hello,
i love juicing but they said nuts and vegetables combination is ok and nuts and fruits too.but how about fruits to vegetables, is it ok?

Gigi

Hello Megan,

I was wondering (as a nutritionist) what advice would you give for children. My 12 year old son has lot of issues with ADD/ADHD and I just came across all this research on grains and gluten free etc. what would your advice be on this? Thanks

    Erin

    Gigi, I would highly recommend you take your son off dairy and refined sugars. Most diseases /disorders start in the gut, like 90%. So if you clean out the bowels and get them working properly, it will help his ADD /ADHD. Grains and gluten can also be the cause. Eliminate dairy and refined sugars and refined flours and put him on Dr Christopher’s Lower Bowel Formula. The formula is made up of herbs, so no harmful side effects, and it will help clean out the bowels gently and promote healthy intestines. Do some research on Dr Christopher, he was an amazing herbalists /vitalist, who cured hundreds of people from herbs. Hope this helps.

work From home

I was recommended this website by my cousin. I am not sure whether this
post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my difficulty.
You are amazing! Thanks!

Kate

I love your recipes! So far, everything I’ve made from your site has turned out fabulous! You’ve mentioned food combining several times in recipe posts, and I decided to give it a try. I like your simple and easy chart! Unfortunately, I have a bit of a sweet-tooth… Where would you place sweeteners like real maple syrup, honey, sucanat, etc.? Do they go with the fruit category? I hardly ever need sweeteners with fruit, though…and eating a spoonful of honey on its own..is..well..a bit much–I’d rather eat some fruit instead! I’d be super happy if sweeteners were in the neutral category, but I’m guessing they wont mix well with starches and proteins..Is there a certain amount of sweeteners that I can add without upsetting the digestion of other foods too much? I guess they can be mixed with neutral foods–maybe for a salad dressing! Thank you for all of your wonderful posts!

lynne

hi! i had a question and was trying to find out for myself…but i am interested in giving this a try, if nothing else to become more aware of how my body processes the food i eat. every morning after working out i have a smoothie with almond milk, chia or hemp seeds, ground flax, whey protein (isolate, free of hormones) or sprouted protein (garden of life RAW), blueberries, fresh ginger and spinach…sometimes i mix up the fruit a bit but these are my staples. i have chronic neck pain and this combo i feel helps with the inflammation (maybe) 🙂
i was wondering how i could to this and adhere to the rules while still having an easy vehicle for the seeds and so forth. today i just mixed the sprouted protein, almond milk, seeds, spinach and banana and it was pretty tasty…figured it would be easier to have a cup of blueberries later in the day. you have been awesome answering all of these questions and i know mine is specific, but what would you recommend? i don’t know where the whey classifies…is it dairy? and then the sprouted would be from grains and legumes…just a bit confusing. would love to hear your solution! thanks!

Mo

Hi I am new to food combining. I am a big time athlete and frequently consume smoothies after weight training. I usually have a smoothie made with blueberries, strawberries, coconut milk, and a powder vegan plant protein powder called Plantfusion. It has never given me any gas or stomach pains but after reading the laws of food combining I wonder what I can put in the smoothie to sweetin it up as opposed to fruit? Why can’t you combine the plant protein – can you only combine fruits with raw plants? Any help would be appreciated!

Joy Dauble

My question is about peppers. Are they considered fruits? I love peppers, bell peppers mostly, and cook with them frequently or eat them raw in salad, or with hummus. Is that bad, though, if they’re fruits? Do they classify as neutrals? I’m hoping! I only skimmed all the previous comments and I’m still a little at a loss, because I think of peppers as sweet (at least the red & yellow ones, not so much the green ones) and there was some discussion on things being considered fruits if they are sweet, verses savory. I.e. cucumbers, botanically classified as fruit, but for the purposes of food combining, they’re seen as neutrals because they’re not sweet.

    Megan

    I personally consider peppers neutral, and love eating them with zucchini hummus!

Robin

I saw ur website for the first time the other day and thought food combining “science” made sense and then went in to see my GP about getting off the prescription proton pump inhibitors I’ve been on for more than 15 years. She handed me something on histamine intolerance. Have you heard of this and if so what do you think?

Doreen

Hi Megan! I’m new on here and hoping to get on a gluten free diet. I’ve read that a gluten free diet can help with hypothyroidism. I also wonder if gluten free diet can help with my digestion issues. I was curious upon seeing the food combining chart and wondered where most veggies fall on it…like green beans, carrots, corn, pumpkin, etc.

Hayley in Training

Hi Megan,
I had a few questions:
Is corn considered a starch in this chart?

What is the distinct difference between dried fruit and regular fruit? i.e. prunes?

How long should you wait after a fruit meal before eating in a different category? You say it takes only about 30 minutes to digest… if I eat fruit in the morning/on an empty stomach, can I just wait 30 minutes before I switch categories, or do I need to wait the typical 3-4 hours still?

Thank you so much!

chloe c

Is it possible to update the chart to include a “veggies” column? I am using this chart as a shopping guide and if it were holistic, that would be awesome!

regardless, thanks for providing!

Julie Masdicot

I would like to have your combining recipes

Rachel

Hi Megan, just wondering where coconut flour fits in to the mix? Would it be a starch such as young coconut meat or in the nuts and seeds category with dried coconut? I see that you have some recipes that contain both coconut flour and eggs. Most of the recipes I can find to use coconut flour have eggs in.

Briana

Can you mix carrots and pineapple together

    Megan

    I would eat pineapple on its own, as it digests very quickly.

Jennifer Gruener

Hi, I recently learned about food combining and I am very interested since I suffer terribly with IBS, gluten intolerance and a casein allergy. I was wondering about vegan protein powder made from Chua, hemp, and pea protein. Would that mix with a morning shake of banana, sunbutter, and almond milk? I didn’t know where the sunbotter or pea protein fell. Thanks

    SARAH

    I also was wondering about this…

    commonly known as Sam

    Food Combining has been greatly helpful aiding in symptom control, and healing, when my U.C. (Ulcerlative Colitis) is flaring up. I tend to do it less when it’s all under control. Bad habits.

Kendra

Since becoming pregnant I have switched to the mono food group way of eating. From the time I conceived I was sick all the time suffered terrible digestive issues tired and at times could not drag myself out of bed. Everything I ate made me throw up, made me bloat to full distention and everything including water gave me heartburn. Had to take medication regularly for constipation no matter what I ate. The doctors tell you to eat a combination of proteins starches vegetables fruit and dairy in meals to provide the best nutrition for the baby and drink 8 glasses of water. This combination is a digestive nightmare Doctors should know better. I’m no expert however since eating the mono food group way I’m having regular bowl movements my energy is restored headaches gone acid reflux ceased no more vomiting. Most of all I feel like I am providing proper nutrition for my baby because I can actually keep my food down and drink 8-10 glasses of water a day with out the upset. I get to enjoy creating life now instead of being miserable every second. It’s an amazing feeling! Thank you for the wonderful information. My only request is that you include more meal options.

Maja hranilovic

What about oatmeal,how can we eat that? Whiat to put in it?

    amy levy

    i am also curious about oatmeal

      Megan Gilmore

      Oatmeal is a grain, so it’s in the starches category.

      Lucy

      try oatmeal with a bit of cinnamon/stevia mixed in a shaker with some cream or butter…me thinks that would be yummy…
      i can’t eat oatmeal yet…but when i do that will be it. i only dream of food combinations…

Alexa

Thank you so much for this wonderful information Megan. May I ask what category do beans fall into? Protein?

    Megan

    Beans are naturally miscombined, as they contain protein and starch, but they lean toward the starchier side, so that’s how I combine them.

Robin

Hi Megan! I’ve made many of your recipes – main entrees, morning shakes, hot drinks and desserts. Most recently, made the cauliflower pizza crust – yum! Also, pretty hooked on the avocado shakes for my breakfast! Think all of your recipes are wonderful! Also, enjoy receiving your emails. I’m going to give this food combining a try as I have a lot of digestive issues (already gluten free). What category would you group raw honey and maple syrup (as well as raw coconut sugar)?

    Megan

    Natural sweeteners can be considered neutral for our purposes.

Brianne

Hello,

I am very interested in food combining. I have stomach issues a fair amount of the time and I still to very clean eating. Question, how would you combine yogurt? I absolutely love it with fruit and my homemade granola but that might not be the best option. I don’t notice too much bloat from it. Truthfully I get my worst stomach aches and bloating in the evening. I feel/look like I am pregnant my tummy is so full of bloat. Any thoughts?

Ali

Hi, Im interested in food combining but am so detail oriented that im confusing myself. I do berrie smoothies with greens in the morning, but add superfoods to make it more nutritious due to my adrenal fatigue like: chia seeds, flax meal, raw cacoa, and maca powder.

is that an okay combo? i can finde chia, flax, cacoa and maca anywhere on food combo charts????

Please assist 🙂
I would also like to know how many veggies are too many to combine?
I made a delicious quinoa, avacado, kale, beet and carrot bowl and am very bloated after 🙁
what did i do wrong???
Thanks in advance

A. Corona

I have a question. What about whole grain pasta with tomato sauce? Is this a good combination?

    Megan Gilmore

    Yes, that’s fine!

Susanne d'Eon

I make a chocolate pudding that I really like. Could you please tell me how to make it properly combined, if possible? 1/2 cup dates (soaked in boiling water), 2 Tblsp honey, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 avocados, 1/3 cup raw cocoa, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup of the water the dates soaked in. Mix in a food processor and chill.

food lover

Iam a blogger like u,and i had read your post its so helpfull for all people they like to start healthy living ,love your bkog ☺

kint verbal

I thought the food combining theory was debunked many years ago.

I’m sure you can find better than this, but you can start reading here: http://www.incrediblesmoothies.com/green-smoothies/isnt-blending-fruits-and-vegetables-in-a-green-smoothie-improper-food-combining/

    Amrita

    Indian Ayurveda talks about all of this and anything to everything since thousands of years ago. 🙂

amrutha

A few questions:
Young coconut meat: Can I combine young coconut meat with bananas or any other fruit. There are so many raw dessert or smoothie recipes that combine young coconut meat with bananas or date paste or with avacados and honey. They also add in a nut crust. Is this bad?
– What happens to digestion rules in baked items like healthy fruit muffins, or french toast made vegan or with egg whites/ What about soups and stews?
-Can I combine korean yams with bananas?

Patricia Husted

I would like to download the Food Combining Chart for reference however when I click on the image as suggested it doesn’t do anything. Any suggestions? Thanks very much.

    Megan Gilmore

    Sorry about that– it works now!

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