What do you guys know about food combining? Do you practice proper food combining? Or try to practice? Do you not care at all? Or maybe you’ve never heard of the term “food combining”? Well, let’s chat about it! Why do I want to chat about it? I mean, obviously because I love talking about food and health. But also, because ever since I learned about it…and put it into action with myself and my family, I’ve noticed all the difference– we’ve all noticed the difference!

I also realized recently that something super simple, like food combining, is often overlooked by people. I never thought much about it in the past either– so I totally get it. I asked my friend Lauren today: “Food combining: have you heard of it? Do you follow it?” And she asked, “What is that a band?” haha. Then followed up with, “Don’t we do that every time we eat?” We totally and completely do combine foods with every meal we eat– but the important thing is not that we do it– but HOW we do it. I don’t want to get super in-depth and nerdy on here (well, more nerdy than I already am) but I just want to give you guys a quick run down on why– and the very basic rules we follow. Basically food combining for dummies 101. Cool? Cool.

The super short version:

Food Combining is the process of eating foods in a certain order for optimal digestion.

The longer version:

So we all know that food digests at different rates, right? I mean, even if you never learned that, if you step back and think about it, it’s pretty obvious, right? If you eat a bowl of pineapple it’s going to sit in your stomach/digestive tract a very different amount of time than if you put a steak in there.

I eat a lot of fruit— obviously. And pineapple is one of my absolute favorite fruits. I like fruit because it’s easy nutrients for my body to absorb and it’s super crazy easy to digest. It goes in your gut, breaks down, and then really easily makes its way through your intestines. And with someone like me, who’s digestion really took a beating, I’ll do what I can to make sure my stomach body doesn’t have to work harder than it has it.

But then lets say you put something like grains in there, that is going to take a bit more time to break down– even the most simple and refined ones take work. Or meat… gosh, meat can sit in your digestive tract, rotting in your colon for days before it finally makes it way out– especially if you are not (taking the effort to eat or drink well to be) regular. That’s why meat eaters have stinkier farts–haha! It’s true! All meat eaters in the animal world tend to have stinkier farts than plant eaters 🙂 But anyway–

So then lets say you’ve just eating your dinner– maybe it was Italian night– and put pasta, sauce, veggies, maybe some cheese or pine nuts, and maybe some protein/meat in there. Now what? Your stomach has to break it down and it has to push its way through your digestive track. This might take a while. You’ve just put in probably 10 – 15 different cooked ingredients into your gut. It needs time to process and move everything out. And then lets say you dont chew properly? Oh man, now the rest of your digestive tract REALLY has to work.

Now lets say you’re handed a fruit platter for dessert. What happens next? Typically we think “oooh something healthy to finish off the meal!” but the reality is that now you’re putting in a bunch of food that doesn’t need time to sit and break down. Fruit is ready to process quickly — it is ready to move in and out (so nice of it!) quickly. But unfortunately your dinner is now in the way, preventing the fruit from going in and out.

What happens next? Gas. Possibly indigestion. Possibly heart burn. A whole bunch of fun uncomfortable digestive side effects. That food is breaking down in your body with nowhere to escape too. And it does not feel good. Do you suffer from gas? Heartburn? Indigestion? Or any of those uncomfortable feelings? There’s a good chance that just changing the order in which you digest food will make a BIG difference.

Of course there are things like not properly chewing your food, food intolerance, lack of stomach acid, and a week digestion tract that can cause these problems too. But sometimes, it’s a super easy fix. Everyone wants to blame fruit, legumes, and veg on their gas problems, but almost all the time, it’s not the fruit and veg, it’s how you’re eating it.

If we’re being really up close and personal here, I used to be farty mcfart fart. And a super star burp queen. I could burp so loud you’d here it in the other room. Now since putting an effort in proper food combining? Unless my colon is having an inflammation flare from my other conditions, I got nothing. Not a burp of fart to be found. Marlowe too. She was never a burp queen. But she suffered from “gas bubbles” a lot. Every once in a while I’d be with her, telling her to take deep belly breathes and to drink water to help her pass some painful gas. I felts bad for her gassy tummy! Now? Nothing. It’s super rare for her to have any gas problems at all– I can’t remember the last time it happened.

So what changed? Not our diet. We didn’t have to cut any foods out. The only thing we did differently was pay attention to the foods we ate and the order we ate them in. Simple. So here we go (mostly in order of importance).

Our Five Personal Easy Food Combining Rules:

  1. Never eat fruit after eating a cooked meal – This is our number one most important food combining rule. I think this one specifically changed Marlowe’s world in regards to her digestion. It was always fine, but now she has zero problems. Fruit digests at an incredibly quickly. Fruit should always be eaten as the first meal of your day– or really any part of your day, but ONLY if you have not had any cooked food. So basically, you always want to eat fruit on an empty stomach or with other fruit.
  2. Raw meals should always be the first meals of your day / never eat raw food after eating a cooked meal – This is also very important– but I think the fruit one might be even more important. But things like salads and raw veg should always be eaten in the first part of the day and (very important) allowed to digest before you eat a cooked meal. A salad before dinner? Cool, but you should allow yourself some major digestion time before you eat anything else.
  3. Cooked food should only be eaten with cooked food. Sure, we might sprinkle some raw cilantro or other herbs on our food, And we’re totally guilty of making rice bowls with raw veg on top,  but for the most part we keep our cooked and raw food separate. For most people, it’s not super difficult to combine a bit of these two, but if you have bigger stomach issues like me, it’s good thing to take note for sure. I’ll only sometimes “cheat” these rules, if my stomach feels good and I’m not worried about gas and things.
  4. Melons have their own rule. Melon should always be eaten on an empty stomach– before anything else, even other fruits. Especially watermelon.
  5. High fat +  fruit don’t mix— and I don’t care if you pair a protein with it. If you guys have checked out my cookbook,  or any of my earlier recipes here, you know I used to combine a lot of nuts or high fat foods with fruit and food to make my recipes creamier and rich. This does not happen anymore. High fat + high sugar is the best way to spike up your blood sugar levels– and no one needs that. People are often told that if they add a protein it’ll help slow the absorption of the sugar– and that’s great and all, but man, that fat + sugar is going to make a nasty mix in your insides. And protein? Also not the easiest thing to digest so that’s just one more thing to mix in and make a weird messy cocktail in there. Maybe you’re thinking, “but I would never mix things like nuts with fruit!” Well what about cheese? Or milk? Those things are loaded with fat. No bueno.

Those are our five easiest and simple food combining rules we aim to follow. And really, if you were to give it a search there are wayyy more basic food combining rules out there– like mono-mealing or minimalistic means. But these are the main ones we try to follow.

We don’t ALWAYS follow these rules of course, but we try to every day. I mean, these rules obviously aren’t life or death, but they certainly can make a difference in your digestion process. And in the big picture, a better digestive system means: absorbing more nutrients, less health problems, more energy, less gas, in many cases weight loss, quicker evacuation, and more.

So if you had never heard about food combining, now you know! While sweet snack of fruit after a salty heavy dinner might sound tasty, it’s better to just pass 🙂 If you’re curious to read more info on gut stuff, I’d recommend checking out this book or this gut book 🙂

So now that you know a bit about food combining… are you intrigued? Do you plan to work on proper food combining? Is a lightbulb going off to what might be causing the gas in your body? Or are you still “whatever forever” about what you eat? No judgement here! But I do hope that if you were curious for some answers, this post might help you like it helped us. Cheers friends!

18 Comments

  1. Hi Drea,
    Thank you so much for sharing! Wow I am guilty of…..not following any of this. I’m vegan, and I’ve wondered how to make it more comfortable on my insides. No wonder I get gassy and bloaty! I read in one of your past blogs that you let Marlowe eat all the fruit she wants in the am, but once you have cooked food, that’s it. And I wondered why? This clarifies things! And makes SO much sense! I’m definitely going to be more mindful about combining things but I do have one question – where do beverages fit into this? I mean, is morning coffee hard on your stomach when paired with a raw smoothie bowl? Just curious…

    xoxo
    Samantha

    • Hi Samantha!

      Yes, this is why– today she ate a pint of strawberries and three (small mangoes) so far– but if she had that after a heavy meal? ooooh it would be an nightmare!

      As far as coffee goes, I think it mostly depends on how you handle coffee. I think the best thing is to always make sure you drink 1-2 glasses of water before you have coffee — mostly for hydration purposes, but I think this would help with acid feelings too. And in general, I do feel like a coffee and a smoothie is a weird combo (unless its a coffee smoothie mmmm), but if it were me, I’d probably have one (prob coffee first), and then have the other in about 20-30 or later 🙂

  2. Not to be dramatic but I think you just changed me and my families life…

  3. I was so excited to get an email that you had a new post up! 🙂 I’m glad you got that all working.

    This post is completely fascinating to me. My daughter is what we like to call Farty Mcfarterson and while I know there are definitely some foods that have contributed to this (dairy and gluten) even now when she doesn’t have these she is often gassy. I’m definitely going to give this a try and see if it makes a difference for her. And going to try it myself too!!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • It really made a world of difference for Marlowe. All of us really, but especially her. I think it should def help you guys out too 🙂

  4. i’ve been following you for years. this is my first comment 🙂 thank you so much for this post. i have been online researching this for a few hours now! haha. Question- my kiddos will start school in a few weeks. i’ve been packing their lunches- sunbutter and jam on gf bread; fruit; veggies w/hummus and some gf starch crackers. so now i’m stumped. avocado on toast gets soggy after a few mins; proteins are best enjoyed heated (also less risk of bacteria, etc). i wish i could pack big salads but in reality they won’t eat it. any suggestions? thanks!

    • Packed lunch was definitely the trickiest for us! We did a lot of sushi (rice with raw veg, not great) or we just gave her cold leftovers from dinner– pasta, fried rice, things like that. We would always pack her things like fruit for her before lunch snack and then things like popcorn for after lunch snack. It’s tough. I just would remind myself, it’s not the end of the world,– just something to work on trying to make better <3

  5. So interested in this! I’ve just recently gotten into doing fruit only for breakfast (and sometimes some raw veggies too, in a smoothie). Question: where do cooked legumes fit into this? I usually do a big salad for lunch, but I feel like it only fills me up if I add some lentils, chickpeas, hummus, etc. And another question: if no fruit, what do you do at the end of the day if you get a dessert-y urge?

    p.s. Been following your blog for a few months, but haven’t commented before – just wanted to say I love it! So glad to have found someone who writes about all this stuff with a solid dose of real McFarty talk in there 🙂

    • I am totally guilty of adding things like like cooked sweet potato to raw salads– they are just so much more satisfying and filling too. But if it’s minimal cooked stuff, and your digestion is decent, should be fine. I think theres a big difference between adding a few lentils to adding a hamburger with your salad, you know?

      We don’t do a lot of desserts. Even Marlowe, if she wants something after dinner it’s typically something like a rice cracker or popcorn, or something. If I’m really craving some sweetness, I might have a date. Which I guess is technically not great food combining– it’s one date haha. Nothing a giant pineapple 🙂

      And thanks for commenting! Glad you’re here!

  6. Hey Drea 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your experiences with food combining. I’m really tempted to give it a try now.
    But some things will be really hard for me 🙈 e.g. I almost always eat a garden salad with my dinner. But this would have to stop (already missing my salad, just thinking about it).
    And I normally eat granola mixed with fresh fruit and oatmilk for lunch, and that’s also not the best combo, according to you.
    The obly thing I wouldn’t have to change is my morning smoothie (well maybe I should leave out the hemp and pumpkin seeds – but I’m adding them particularly for my 2 year old son, cause he needs the fat and nutrients 🤷‍♀️).
    What are your thoughts on this? Stop complaining and just get through with it? Haha, just kidding.

    Anyways, I really liked this post. 💚 Wish you a nice relaxing weekend (soon 😉).
    XOXO, Romy

    In Love with Bliss – plantiful recipes nourishing body & soul 

    • Hi Romy!

      Maybe eat salad– and eat dinner 20-30 minutes later?

      I think a bit of granola with some fruit should be fine– it won’t kill you 🙂 I wouldn’t eat it with watermelon tho!

      Are you doing raw seeds or cooked seeds? On one hand, raw is better, cause there are far more nutrients. But roasted might have less mold on it which is better! I think it should be fine! Again, these are more like guidelines. No one will be dying if they add some seeds to a smoothie 🙂

  7. This is really good to know! I eat plant based and gluten free but Maaan my gas can be BAD sometimes! And it’s super embarrassing and frustrating, so I should really start noticing my food combos too! I also rarely eat fruits because sometimes the sugar bothers my tummy. I also live in Minnesota so I don’t have the fruit in season all year year round. Thank you!

    Alisha

  8. Hello Drea,
    Oh wow that’s so interesting! I’m definitely going to change the way I eat. Thank you so much 😃. I’m going to be starting my baby on solids in 2 months time and was wondering if you have any tips for what to introduce first? I’m going to follow this food combining rule for when he starts eating. Thanks again!
    Amelia

  9. Thank you for this little inside (hehe) info! My family has always made fun of me for being super gassy, and I’ve never really known how to change that. I’m going to implement these tips and hopefully see some changes! Out of curiousity- What about baked goods that contain fruit… do those break down differently since the fruit gets cooked? And how about dried fruits? And where does yogurt fall in all of this- no yogurt with fruit and granola anymore?

  10. wow! this is super fascinating. i didn’t know much about food combining but it makes sense. i always eat fruit last as a “dessert.” going to have to do some planning! do you know if there is any guidance on how many hours you can put between meals? e.g., if you have a cooked lunch, can you have a raw snack 3-4 hours later?