The Ultimate Guide to Food Combining: Good and Bad, and Why They Matter

Food combining is an essential part of our diets. It can affect our digestion, absorption of nutrients, and even our risk of developing certain illnesses. In this article, we will discuss the different types of food combining diets and their effects on our health. We will also look at some common food combining rules that people should avoid in order to stay healthy!

What Is Food Combining?

Food combining is the practice of eating specific types of foods together to optimize digestion and absorption of nutrients. There are different schools of thought on how the perfect food combining diet should look, but most agree that certain combinations of foods are better than others.

Why Is Food Combining Important?

There are a few reasons why food combining is essential. First, when we eat different types of foods together, our bodies have to work harder to digest them.
This can lead to indigestion and other digestive problems. Second, when we eat foods that don’t combine well, our bodies may not be able to absorb all the nutrients from those foods. This can lead to deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals.
Asides from this, our bodies are all different, and understanding how our own digestive system works is the key to having a healthy relationship with food. What works for one person might not work for another, so it’s essential to experiment and find what combinations of foods work best for you!
Improper food combinations can increase our risk of developing certain illnesses. For example, eating high-fiber foods with protein can reduce the risk of colon cancer, and eating fruits and vegetables together may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer.

Poor Food Combinations

A picture showing poor food combing
There are a few food combinations that people should avoid in order to stay healthy. Some of the most common poor food combinations include:
  • Protein with starch: This combination is hard to digest and can lead to indigestion.
  • Fruit with powdered protein: This combination can be hard on the stomach and may not allow the body to absorb all of the nutrients from the fruit. But you can have fruit with protein such as nuts and seeds.
  • Fat with carbohydrate or protein: This combination slows down digestion and can cause problems like indigestion and weight gain.
  • Raw vegetables with dip: The vegetables need time to digest, but the dip will inhibit their digestive process.

Here are some examples of poor food combining:

  • Meat + Potatoes
  • Chicken + Biscuits
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • Fish + Chips
  • Hot Dog
  • Hamburgers
Poor food combinations can be hard on our digestive systems and may lead to problems like indigestion, weight gain, and nutrient deficiencies. It’s important to be aware of these combinations and avoid them whenever possible!

Symptoms Of Indigestion

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be a sign that you are having trouble digesting your food:
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
Woman holding her belly in pain
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please consult with your doctor to determine the cause. Often, indigestion is caused by poor food combinations and can be easily treated with changes to diet and lifestyle.

A Flexible Approach To Food Combining

A flexible approach to food combining can be beneficial for most people. There are no hard and fast rules, but it’s important to be aware of the different combinations that can cause problems for our digestion. By avoiding foods that don’t combine well, we can keep our digestive systems healthy and functioning properly!

Food Combining Principles

There are five principles of proper food combining:

Principle #1 - Pair proteins with non-starchy vegetables or sea vegetables

Broccoli being boiled in a pot
When we eat concentrated proteins, the stomach produces more hydrochloric acid and pepsin, the protein-digesting enzyme. This is not a good environment for starch digestion.
Proteins are best eaten alongside non-starchy vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, and onions. Or with sea vegetables like sea moss and pulse. All of which are well-digested in a protein or starch-rich environment.
Remember to give yourself three to four hours between a protein dinner and a starch dinner.

Principle #2: Eat only fruit until noon

Eating fruit on an empty stomach allows the body to absorb all of the nutrients without any interference.
Fruit digests quickly and easily, so it’s best to eat it first thing in the morning or up to noon. After that, you can start eating other types of food. So make sure to always eat fruit when you wake up!

Principle #3: Combine grains and starchy vegetables with non-starchy vegetables or sea vegetables

You can combine non-grain starches such as potatoes and beets with grains like quinoa. Corn and rice are examples of starchy foods that are well-suited to starchy vegetables. Other non-starchy vegetables like asparagus and artichokes also pair well with these starches.

Principle #4: Protein fats go with non-starchy vegetables and sea vegetables

Protein fats include nuts, seeds, oils, and avocado. They are best eaten with non-starchy vegetables or sea vegetables. This combination allows for the easy digestion of both the protein and the fat. By pairing them together, we create a digestive environment that is optimal for breaking down these nutrients.

Principle #5: Protein starches are difficult to digest, so consume sparingly


Examples of protein starches are legumes (beans, lentils, peas) and grains.
Legumes and grains contain both a concentrated source of proteins as well as starches. When these two types of nutrients are eaten together, they form a “protein-starch” that is difficult to digest.
This combination can lead to problems like indigestion and gas. It’s best to eat them separately or combine them with non-starchy vegetables or sea vegetables.

Good Food Combinations

Below is a list of great food combinations you can try out:
  • Starchy Vegetables + Non-Starchy Vegetables Or Sea Vegetables
  • Protein Fats (Nuts And Seeds) + Fruits
  • Protein (Plant) + Non-Starchy Vegetables Or Sea Vegetables
  • Protein Fats + Non-Starchy Vegetables Or Sea Vegetables
  • Protein Fats + Sea Vegetables
  • Protein + Fats Or Oils
  • Leafy Greens - Anything

Food Categories

Below is a handy food list you can use when grocery shopping next time:

Foods That Pair With Any Food Combination:

A photo of spinach and vegetable sandwich
  • lemons
  • avocado
  • cucumber
  • spinach
  • arugula
  • beet greens
  • lettuce
  • limes
  • tomato
  • bell peppers
  • zucchini and summer squash
  • wheatgrass

Sea Vegetables:

  • Kelp
  • Sea Moss
  • Salicornia
  • Dulse
  • Nori
  • Sea Purslane

Grains and Starchy Vegetables:

 A bunch of cooked potatoes in a tray
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Whole grains
  • Potatoes
  • Wheat
  • Legumes
  • Corn
  • Parsnips
  • Artichokes
  • lima beans
  • Water chestnuts

Non-Starchy Vegetables:

  • Amaranth or Chinese spinach
  • Artichoke
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Asparagus
  • Baby corn
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Beans (green, wax, Italian)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chayote
  • Cucumber
  • Daikon
  • Eggplant
  • Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
  • Hearts of palm
  • Okra
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms


  • Seeds (hemp, chia, flax, pumpkin, sunflower, watermelon, sesame)
  • Beans (both starch and protein)
  • Nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts)
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu

Protein Fats

A variety of vegetables laid on a table
  • Green peas
  • Spinach
  • Avocados
  • Artichokes
  • Sweetcorn
  • Asparagus
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Mushrooms
  • Kale
  • Potatoes


  • Stone fruit – nectarines, apricots, peaches, and plums
  • Tropical and exotic – bananas and mangoes
  • Apples and pears
  • Citrus – oranges, grapefruits, mandarins, and limes
  • Berries – Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwifruit, and passionfruit
  • Melons – watermelons, rockmelons, and honeydew melons
  • Tomatoes and avocados.

Vegetable Fruits:

  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Squash and zucchini
  • Avocado
  • Bell peppers – red, green, orange-yellow


Food combinations are essential because they create an environment in the digestive tract that is conducive to breaking down and assimilating nutrients. When you combine different food categories, you create a balanced diet that is easy to digest and provides your body with all the nutrients it needs. Try out some of the great food combinations listed in this article and see how you feel!