How to Eat Food in Combinations

Proper food combining may improve digestive issues.

Proper food combining may improve digestive issues.

Many of America's favorite meals violate rules of food combining. Spaghetti and meatballs, chicken and rice and even pizza -- with its mix of toppings -- are incorrectly combined foods. Food combining is the practice of matching particular groups of foods to promote efficient digestion. The right combinations of foods may improve your digestion, absorption of nutrients and -- some claim -- your overall health and well-being.


Familiarize yourself with the basic principles of food combining. Fruits tend to pass through your stomach more quickly, requiring few digestive enzymes. Starchy foods require an alkaline digestive enzyme, while proteins require acid for digestion. An acid and an alkaline neutralize each other, so combining acid and alkaline digestive enzymes in your stomach greatly impairs digestion. Proper food combining avoids acid-alkaline combinations, because the goal is to maximize digestion and absorption of important nutrients.

Learn to recognize the various food categories: fruits, green and non-starchy vegetables, starches, proteins and fats and oils. Examples of green and non-starchy vegetables include crucifers, lettuce of all kinds, tomatoes, green beans and onions. Starches include starchy vegetables and grains, such as squash, sweet and white potatoes, rice and wheat. Proteins include dairy, poultry and meats, while nuts, seeds and various oils fall into the fats and oils category.

Make a list of your favorite meals. Include breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacking options.

Check each meal to ensure that it is properly combined. Use substitutions and make modifications as necessary. For example, if you plan to make club sandwiches for a quick dinner, substitute the ham and turkey for extra avocado, sprouts or tofu. Alternatively, omit the hoagie or bun for a properly combined meal.

Create a grocery list using your meal plan. Ensure that your list includes all of the ingredients you will need to prepare and cook your meals.

Purchase items for properly combined snacks, such as nuts and seeds for a trail mix or hummus with fresh vegetables.


Eat fruit on an empty stomach -- or before you eat a meal. If you eat food after a meal, it remains in your stomach too long causing fermentation and purification. The frustrating result may include bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea.

Eat proteins with non-starchy vegetables. Combine concentrated proteins such as chicken, beef or fish with high-water-content vegetables such as broccoli, peppers, greens or mushrooms. Some properly combined protein meals might be chicken breast on a bed of lettuce; salmon and asparagus; meatballs with spaghetti squash; or a veggie omelet.

Eat grains and starches with non-starchy vegetables, such as those described previously. Examples of properly combined starchy meals include pasta primavera, minestrone soup or vegetable risotto.

Eat nuts, plant-based fats, seeds and oils with starches, green and non-starchy vegetables or concentrated proteins. You can pair plant-based fats with any other food groups without causing digestive distress.

Items you will need

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  • Simple meals digest best. Remember how you felt after Thanksgiving dinner? It may have been because more than 20 different foods were combined in your stomach. Keep it simple, and you will likely see improvements to your digestion.

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About the Author

Sara Police has been writing nutrition and fitness-related articles since 2012. Her research has been published in scientific journals such as "Current Hypertension Reports," "Obesity" and the "American Journal of Physiology." She holds a PhD in nutritional sciences from the University of Kentucky and teaches online nutrition courses for Kaplan University.

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