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The concept of food combining involves eating foods in certain combinations that allow you to fully digest your foods and get the most energy and nutrients out of them. Different enzymes are used to digest different types of foods. Some of these enzymes interfere with each other if they are released at the same time and interfere with the digestion of food. If this happens, the undigested food basically ferments in the body causing a number of symptoms and diseases as it releases toxins into your system. Much of the undigested material that remains in your system can also cause weight gain, constipation, indigestion, gas, bloating, and other symptoms. This diet helps the body to cleanse toxins from the system that cause disease, which are left there from many sources, including improper combining of foods. This is a fairly simplistic explanation of the reasoning behind this diet, but is a good place to start. Also consider what Dr. Matthew McNally, D.C. says in his pamphlet regarding food combining:
“The human body produces enzymes necessary for digestion. There is a limit to the frequency and how often each food group can be consumed properly to allow proper digestion. . . Each food group can be properly combined with some of the other foods.”
“Enzymes can work together to facilitate maximum digestion when following these recommendations. When you combine food groups improperly, you will not facilitate maximum digestions an can likely cause long term health problems.”
“Freedom-knowing how to look at proper food choices and make correct decisions that will assist your body to promote health.
Suppression-feeling restricted and forced to follow improper eating habits to the detriment of the body.
*Also check out the "Resources" section of our web page for more links that describe the reasoning behind and the need for proper food combining in further detail if you are interested.
The above description is the basic rationale behind the changes we are making. Some of this is very different from what all of us have learned about diet, health, and disease and admittedly sounds quite strange at first. It took a lot of faith and motivation for us to try this, but experiencing a complete turnaround in our health has made us understand the power of a healthy way of eating and living.
There are different approaches to food combining diets out there. The one we follow is based on a book called Proper Food Combining Works: A Living Testimony by Lee DuBelle. However, since we are seeing Dr. Renee Welhouse, N.D., we are following a little different version of the diet that is based on her training and expertise. We have attached Dr. Welhouse’s chart which gives you a good idea about what the diet involves, however Lee DuBelle’s book explains the why behind the what and gives you more information to back up why it is necessary to eat in these combinations. You will notice some slight differences between Lee DuBelle’s chart and Dr. Renee’s, if you read the book.
How to get started:
We do recommend reading the book, however with an understanding of Dr. Renee’s chart, you could start immediately, though you might not understand why you are doing what you are doing. There are several boxes on the chart that comprise the different food groups. Inside (or near in a box with the same border) are any special instructions for that group. Also in the box is a number denoting digestion time. Basically, you can eat foods from within the same group together as well as any foods from other groups that the directions tell you combine with that group. Then, you need to pay attention to the digestion time of the groups that you ate (indicated by the number of hours listed in each box). You must wait that number of hours indicated for full digestion until eating from another group that does not combine with the group that you last ate from. This allows full digestion to take place and the food to move through your digestive system without being interrupted by competing digestive enzymes. It sounds a little complex, but you quickly learn what foods are in what groups and what goes with what. After a month or two of following this diet, it becomes easier you will find freedom with your knowledge of good and bad combinations simply by looking at a menu. You will also learn to listen to your body and, after following this diet for a while, will feel truly sick when making certain mis-combinations. This is not a “diet” per se, but a lifestyle change and does require a bit of a learning curve. The benefits can be great.
If you feel as if you want to make some changes but are overwhelmed, intimidated, etc of the learning curve for this diet, we suggest to take some time to study the chart, get familiar with it, and then pay attention to the foods you are eating for a few days and if they combine or not. Then, if you are not ready to jump right in, first try following just a few of the rules. Practice making a few of your favorite recipes (or finding new ones) in ways that combine well. Pay attention to your body and if you notice a difference or not. Also, do not get down on yourself for mis-combining once in a while. Learning the diet may mean making some mistakes you can learn from, and there will always be some special occasions in which you would not be able to completely follow the diet. We started slowly in this way and it benefited us in the long run. Another good tip . . . don’t try to start everything right away. The diet is much easier to learn at first if you go for several days, maybe longer, without including the protein sources in your diet right away. This helps you to learn to pay attention to digestion times, new methods of food preparation, etc without having to consider how to combine as many groups. This will make sense later if you decide to try the diet.
We are also willing to share some of the recipes that have become our favorites as we have continued with this diet. We have come across (or invented) many tasty recipes of our own.
An Example From the Chart:
Ok, if you are still with us . . . get out your chart. Here is an example of a typical day:
Breakfast: (Several examples)
Pineapple and strawberries and sour apples OR
Bananas and Mango OR
Apples with maple syrup OR
Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries OR
Peaches, pears, and nectarines
*In general, pick one group of fruit groups and eat what you want from that group. No combining between groups. Most of the fruit groups take 2-3 hours to digest, at which time you can eat more fruit or eat lunch.
-Lettuce and Vegetable Salad with dressing
-Portobello mushroom sandwich on Ezekiel Bread
-Fresh or cooked green vegetables
-Cold Salads: Quinoa or Millet Salads with other starches or veggies
*All of these things combine together given the proper ingredients
*In general, any kinds of Green Vegetables and a Starch. You can also eat just Green Vegetables if you want. These groups combine together and both take 5 hours to digest before switching to a different group. Meat may be eaten for lunch, but takes 12 hours to digest, and limits the variety of foods you can have the rest of the day to protein and green veggies.
-Steak with green beans and a lettuce salad OR
-Stuffed Portobello mushrooms (Portobello mushroom baked with Spanish rice inside and rice cheese on top) AND/OR
-Veggie Fajita’s with Ezekial Bread Torilla’s with a green veggie salad and rice cheese
-Bean Chili with Vegetables on the side and Soy sour cream OR
-No Bean (veggie) Chili with rice crackers (in soup) and melted rice cheese on top with your favorite potato OR
-No Bean (veggie) chili with hamburger and green veggies as a side.
*In general, choose a kind of Protein and eat with Green Vegetables OR eat any kinds of Green Vegetables and a Starch. These are just a few of the recipes that we often make while at home. You can make many tasty dishes with a little creativity and imagination.
Green Vegetables are a great snack (with salad dressing or salsa as a dip). If you are planning to eat Green Vegetables and a Starch for dinner, rice crackers with salsa or any of the starches (a piece of toast, home-made baked French fries, etc.) are also a good afternoon snack.
A spoonful of honey or a glass of apple juice can get you through when you are hungry between meals.
Fruit juice can go with anything because it digests almost instantly. Organic, non-filtered juices are best (you will taste the difference), but definitely go for something that doesn’t include “high fructose corn syrup” as a main ingredient. Not-from-concentrate juices are generally better than juices from concentrate.
Technically, flour and refined sugar are not a part of this way of eating. However, if you choose to eat chocolate or other sweets, it is best to do so between meals, on an empty stomach. The main sweeteners that we use are honey, maple syrup and molasses.
Thanks for sticking with this if you made it this far. Thanks for being curious/interested. If you would like to try this way of eating or are thinking of seeing Dr. Renee, we would be happy to share our experiences with you and provide you with some recipes to get you started. Take care.
Eric and Liz Hartung
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