Maybe you’ve never heard of food pairing. Maybe you have and it seems super-complicated. Or maybe you know all about it and just haven’t tried it. Whatever the case, here is some quick basic info to get you started. The whole idea is that it is not just WHAT we eat that matters, but also what we eat it WITH. If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or any digestive issues, you should pay attention to food pairing. It is worth it to apply the following principles for at least a few weeks to see if you notice a difference.

Eat Fruit Alone

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Fruit should not be paired with anything. In general, fruit has a fast digestion rate. So, if it is consumed with other food, it will just ferment on top of it in your stomach while it waits for the other food to digest, which can lead to stomach upset. So, fruit is a great breakfast, but keep it away from other food. This is especially important for melon!!!

Pair Proteins and Starches with Veggies, but NOT with Each Other


If you are on the PALEO, GAPS, Primal or other grain-free diet, this is probably the easiest rule to follow. There aren’t a lot of starches on these diets. They consist of a lot of meat and veggies which in general go well together. If you are NOT on one of these diets, this is probably the hardest part. Starches plus proteins seems to be the staple of the American diet – chicken and rice, meat and potatoes, almost every sandwich. So, this will probably take some getting used to. But, it is totally worth a try if you are in pain. And a dinner of a meat (like these chicken leg recipes) with some veggies (I love this garlic Broccoli recipe from Paleo Grubs) can make a really good tasty filling dinner.

Fats and Oils are Good

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As long as they are good, high quality fats and oils, like avocados and coconut oil, they can be paired with anything (except fruit). But, keep it in moderation because fats and oils slow down digestion.

Drink Milk Alone

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It’s probably best to avoid dairy altogether if you are having digestion issues, but if you are drinking milk it should be consumed alone because it’s pretty difficult to digest. Other dairy products, like cheeses, should be considered a protein and follow those rules (so, cheese on salad = okay, cheese on meat – not okay).

Avoid Sugar

food pairing _sugar

This is a good idea anyway, regardless of food pairing issues. But, if you have to have your sugar (like in your tea or something – though I definitely recommend switching to raw honey), keep it away from other foods.

happy tummy

This is an very simplistic view of the basics, and of course there are exceptions. But I think the above list is fairly easy to remember and gives you a good overview to get started on. If you find it helpful after implementing for a few weeks, you can see if you want to delve deepen.

Do I always follow these rules? I can’t honestly say that I do (I love recipes that incorporate apples with pork and I love a mango salsa with my fish tacos). But for the most part I do stick to this – and for the times that I don’t there are great enzymes, but that’s a whole other post. And being on a diet that doesn’t have a lot of starch or dairy makes it really easy. If you want to try a PALEO, GAPS, or Primal diet you will probably notice improved digestion from that. But, if you aren’t quite ready for that, food pairing is definitely something to consider. Your tummy will thank you.

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