What can I eat?

The Harcombe Diet® is all about eating real food and ditching fake food. You won’t be counting calories, or points, or carbs, or starving every other day, or two days a week. You won’t be eating less – full stop. You’ll be eating better. This short video will explain the power of not counting calories, but making the calories you eat count.

The diet is in 3 Phases:

Phase 1 is just 5 days long (although it is recommended to stay on Phase 1 for longer if you have more than 20lb to lose and/or if you have marked Candida overgrowth). You can have unlimited meat, fish, eggs, vegetables (except potatoes/mushrooms), Natural Live (bio) Yoghurt, herbs, spices and one portion of ‘safe’ grains daily (brown rice, quinoa, oats).

Phase 2 is followed for as long as you need to lose weight. Fruit, dairy products, baked potatoes and whole grains are re-introduced, as works for you (the books hold your hand through all this).

Phase 3 is the lifelong weight maintenance plan. It’s how to eat ‘off-piste’ and keep the weight off. You’ll learn the rules of ‘cheating’ and see what you can get away with without re-gain.

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  1. avatar Rebbie
    Reply

    Hi, did this diet about 12 months ago and was fantastic, am starting again this coming monday so getting ready. 2 things I’d like to ask please, in phase 1 can i use coconut oil instead of olive oil, and as i have bad xanthelasma, ive heard walnuts can help with this so can i have raw walnuts aswell. Many thanks and here is to success again 🙂

  2. avatar Liezle
    Reply

    Hello. What is the difference between the Zoe Harcombe diet and Tim Noakes’ LCHF diet? And, can i eat full cream dairy, as well as legumes and beans? I am a vegetarian and find the LCHF diet quite challenging.

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      We’re about eating real food and overcoming your cravings. You may need to reduce your carbs, but not to Banting (tim’s) levels. Veggies welcome and do well.

  3. avatar Jay Rogers
    Reply

    Hi Andy, I’m interested in the card you’ve been generously posting to people but would be happy with a PDF to conserve printing/mailing costs! Is it on the site?

  4. avatar Lucy Thomlinson
    Reply

    Hello I’m slightly confused about butternut squash. Is it for a Fat or Carb meal? Zoe’s handy table indicates ‘squashes’ can be eaten with either a fat or carb meal – but several posts and discussions seem to indicate that it’s only for carb meals? Can I have roasted butternut squash with a poached egg on phase 2 (non mixing) or not?

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      The mixing of squashes would depend on how carb sensitive you are – it’s really a personal thing. If you’re not carb-sensitive, you maybe ok, but if your weight-loss is stalling, you may want to keep squashes for carb meals.

  5. avatar Irini
    Reply

    Hi, I am in phase 1. I really like my coffee with some skimmed milk. It makes a difference to my psychology for the rest of the day. Canny have some milk only with my coffee in phase 1?

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      We don’t recommend any dairy in Ph1. You need to eliminate it to see if you have any background intolerances.

  6. avatar Fiona
    Reply

    Hi, I’m just wondering if fruit tea is ok on phase 1 please? Also am I allowed the following: sugar snap peas, green beans, runner beans, avocado?

  7. avatar Dita
    Reply

    Hi Andy,

    I recently purchased the Harcombe Diet book and I am very excited to try it out to cut some of my bad habit cravings that just make me crazy. Or perhaps I have one out of three conditions 🙁

    So right now, before the start Phase 1 I am putting together what I can have besides eggs, meat and vegs.
    So I understand there are some NOs in the Phase 1: no bread, no diary, no potatoes, no coffee/tea etc

    I would like to know if these products acceptable during Phase 1:
    – kefir (instead of NLY)
    Kefir: in particular: http://www.ah.be/producten/product/wi236572/oing-halfvolle-kefir-demi-ecreme
    I just cannot figure out if it is possible to make artificial kefir 🙂
    -Greek yoghurt
    http://shop.delhaize.be/nl-be/Zuivel-en-kaas/Yoghurt-en-alternatieven/Natuur/Yoghurt-7C-Grieks/p/F1992102900115500000
    I was told this a real yoghurt.
    – buckwheat (instead of rice that I dont tolerate well)
    – flaxseeds, hemp seeds
    -herbal tea
    -lemon, ginger, apple cider vinegar

    And during Phase 2, can following products be included:
    -rye bread
    -cottage cheese
    -cheese (young Gouda for example)
    -potatoes
    Thanks in advance

  8. avatar Hayley
    Reply

    I’m starting phase 1, can I use soy sauce for the stir fry and all herbs and spices, ie; Chinese 5 spice?

  9. avatar Rhian
    Reply

    Hello – I was wondering if you can use the seasoning “sweet smoked paprika” in the diet – especially in phase 1 and 2. I noticed Paprika was ok but wasn’t sure if this particular version was allowed. Thanks

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      Hi Rhian,
      Have never used ‘sweet smoked paprika’ myself. My guess would be that it’s ok as it’s such small quantities generally used. Make sure there’s nothing ‘sweet’ added, though.

  10. avatar Alice
    Reply

    Hi, I have a dairy, wheat and nuts intolerance, would I be able to use, hemp milk or another alternative such as oat milk or rice milk in phase 2? What would they be classed as – a fat or carb meal?
    Thanks

  11. avatar AS
    Reply

    Looking forwards to eating better. I enjoy natural 100% peanut butter, tahini, as well as nuts and seeds. How do these fit in with all phases plus food combining in the Harcombe diet? Any info would be great! Thank you.

  12. avatar Samantha Crewe
    Reply

    Can you have a hot lemon and water drink in the morning, also how about beetroot in phase 1.

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      Hot water with slice of lemon is fine.
      Beeroot is fine unless you’re very carb sensitive, then best avoid.

  13. avatar Shona
    Reply

    Hi….on week three of Phase 1. Lost 9lbs first week… 1 second week and this week I gained two 🙁

    Ive had the odd small splash of milk in a couple coffees..could this really affect my numbers THAT much?

    Also…after reading some Q&A’s on here, I see that oil is ok to use a ‘little’ but I have been using olive oil freely whwn cooking or for dressing a salad as its on the list of foods I can have in Phase 1, so no restrcition I thought? Lastly, one answer said a few tomatoes should be ok, but I have some cherry tomatoes almost daily… I feel a bit conflicted between the book and here?

    I have about 4 or 5 stone to lose so didnt think I would stalk this early…

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      Hi Shona,
      Tomatoes are a fruit so best avoided as a rule on Ph1. We say ok in small amounts in salads.
      Small amounts of oils for cooking is typically fine, but not liberally or for drinking (I joke not, some take liberally as spoonfulls)
      If your intolerant to dairy, even small amounts can trigger a response. Avoid for a while if you’re unsure.

  14. avatar Nicci
    Reply

    Hi. A nurse has recommended I try this diet so I’ve just started reading about it. My question is about salad dressing – I’m not a huge fan of salad, although I do eat it, but usually with either salad cream or mayo. So my questions are:
    1) Are these allowed in Phase II? (I’m assuming not in Phase I)
    2) Can you suggest any alternative salad dressings please?
    Thanks.

  15. avatar Felicity Gibson
    Reply

    I’m planning on starting Phase 1 next week – a friend has had super results. Can I fry allowed vegetables in a healthy fryer such as Tefal Actifry to make veggie chips?

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      Hi there.
      I don’t know specifically what your planning in terms of veg/oil/process so my inclination would be to stay away from that in Ph1 and keep the cooking as simple as possible. It’s only 5 days short

      • avatar Doyin
        Reply

        Hi Andy, so there’s no mention about oils. if they can be mixed with carb meals like stir-fry lentils. Can they?

  16. avatar Charmaine Innis
    Reply

    Hi Andy, Can I use sugar sweetener in drinks in PH1. I find it hard to drink hot drinks without any format of sugar? Thanks

    PS can I have some cards please. Thanks

  17. avatar Riju
    Reply

    Hi Andy,
    Is it acceptable to consume legumes such as bean sprouts, lentils or red beans with brown rice in Phase 1 & Phase 2?

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      No Legumes on Phase 1 as they are too high in carbs
      ok in Ph2 as part of a carb meal.

  18. avatar Rhona Segal
    Reply

    Hi Andy, we’ve just started phase 1, what can we use to flavour a beef stir fry

  19. avatar Mohammed
    Reply

    Hi Andy,

    Can I have pap with kale and treat it like a veggie meal? Can I have fish with boiled veggies? How about veggie soup as a starter then a fish dish?

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      All sound fine, just as long as they fit within the rules of the phase that you are following.

  20. avatar Sarah
    Reply

    Hi Andy! I’ve started P1 today. I have a milk intollerance so re bacon and eggs for breakfast, could i swap scrambled eggs (as I can’t have butter and I’m assuming “dairy free” spread is a no-no) for poached eggs (done in water)? And could I also add tinned/fresh tomatoes to my plate? Many thanks

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      Any kind of eggs would be fine. You can also scramble with no milk or butter. a few toms are fine too.

  21. avatar Annette
    Reply

    Hi, I don’t like water, in fact I vomit if I have to drink it meaning I can only drink flavoured water like squash at a push water with a hint of fruit like volvic. Is this ok for the diet?

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      Afraid not. squashes/cordials/’flavoured’ waters etc all typically have sugars.
      You could explore chilled teas (peppermint, fruit teas etc)

  22. avatar Pamela
    Reply

    I have just purchased the book, and. I’m a little worried, I don’t like salad am I able to swap out the salads for a mixed veg medley? Or perhaps just swap them out for other meals in the phase one meal plan?

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      No need to eat things you don’t like. Swopping a salad for a mixed veg dish is fine.

  23. avatar emma
    Reply

    Hi I’ve been on the harcombe diet for neatly two weeks now and have lost 8lb wich is great … I’ve even had a few treats !
    I have about 3.5 stone to loose …how long should I stay on phase 1 for?? And can you please let me have thd receipt for the coronation chicken wrap for phase 1

    Thank you

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      I think I’ve answered your question on Phase 1 in another thread.
      Coronation chicken is chicken, NLY, Mustard, salt and pepper. Full recipe in Lunchbox Recipes book.

  24. avatar Aliki
    Reply

    Hi there. I would like to ask if kefir and buttermilk are allowed on phases 1 and 2. In the Greek translation of the book the live natural yogurt is translated as kefir, so two countries (Greece and Cyprus) might have got it wrong. I just realised it, when reading the original book.

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      Kefir and Buttermilk are fine.
      And thanks for the observation on translation 🙂

  25. avatar Alison
    Reply

    Hi…again!!
    I’ve just been told that I can’t eat smoked food ( bacon, mackerel etc) on phase 1. Is this true? If so, please can you explain the reasons? Many thanks xx

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      If they are ‘hand-made’ with just meat and herbs/spices from a local butcher, then they should be fine. Stay clear of mass produced ones from supermarkets.

  26. avatar Janet
    Reply

    I have the recipe book and just about to start phase one. I don’t see brown rice on the list, but people are referencing it. Is it allowed?
    Also I don’t see sweet corn on list, is this allowed in phase one?

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      Brown rice is fine on Phase1, just watch the quantity
      Sweet corn is ok, but very carby, so again, watch the quantity.

  27. avatar Emma
    Reply

    Are you allowed nuts at any point. And with phase 2 do you have to have the snacks. I’m currently doing week four for phase 1 till I got the book. And I’m full after every meal (not big portions either). So not sure if I’d want to try and add in the snacks.
    Thank you

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      There’s no need to snack and better if you don’t. we just say snack if you really need to and are genuinely hungry between meals.
      Nuts are Ph3

  28. avatar Fran Jacobs
    Reply

    Day1, Phase 1! Just enjoyed 2 poached eggs and 2 rashers of bacon for breakfast.
    Have 2 st. to lose. Feeling determined and just ordered the books so I’m prepared for the next 2 stages.
    Here’s to a new me in 2016!!
    Fran

  29. avatar Adriana
    Reply

    Hi, waiting to have my book delivered and want to ask if I can have tuna in sunflower oil on p1? Thanks

  30. avatar Helen Rollins
    Reply

    Hi I am about to start on ph1 but wondered if I had to have the brown rice as I have found that all starchy carbs inc wholegrain affect my endometriosis and since I cut them out my symptoms have improved no end. Could I just replace it with extra veg or salad?

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      No need to eat anything that you don’t like/doesn’t agree with you. That salad for rice swap would be fine.

      • avatar Lucy Thomlinson
        Reply

        Are Habas Fritas genuinely OK as part of a fat meal (or a snack after a fat meal in the evening)? The only ingredients are; broad beans, oil and salt so in theory I cannot see anything at all that doesn’t follow the principles – a vegetable (non potato) and fat. I’m struggling giving up crisps completely (although have swapped to salted Kettle so none numbers) and these seem a great idea as a substitute! Really crunchy and salty. What are your thoughts?

        • avatar Andy
          Reply

          No broad beans in Phase 1 – too carby. And I’d be looking to stop snacking as much as possible, aim for 3 main meals to keep you satiated in-between.

  31. avatar Paula
    Reply

    HI, I would like to start this Diet, All I drink is water, but Fizzy Water.. Is this Allowed?

  32. avatar Nicky
    Reply

    Hi, I am vegetarian and eat a lot of soya meat alternative products. Are these ok for phase 1, if not what can I use to substitute and fill me up in a meal? Is all milk even substitutes off the menu for phase 1? I’ve never been imaginative with cooking so am feeling stuck before I’ve even started. I see you have some cards on what can/can’t be eaten on phase 1, would you mind emailing them to me also? would be very grateful. Thanks

  33. avatar Hatem
    Reply

    For Phase 1

    Avoid all types of cheese?
    For brown rice, do you mean any rice which is labelled brown in any supermarket?
    Or is there a special brand name for brown rice?
    What is meant by ” ‘safe’ grains daily” above?

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      NO cheese or dairy on Ph1
      Any brown rice (that we’ve come across) is fine
      brown rice/quinoa/plain oats (on the card that I’m posting to you)

  34. avatar Tim
    Reply

    In Phase 1
    Can I have bread, what type and how much?
    Can I have fried veg ( no potatoes no mashroom)?
    what type of cheese I can have or avoid ?
    Can I have milk with coffee ?
    Can I have poridge, what type ?
    Can I have egg fried or boiled ?
    Can I have fish including tuna ?

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      Can I have bread, what type and how much? No
      Can I have fried veg ( no potatoes no mashroom)? yes
      what type of cheese I can have or avoid ? None
      Can I have milk with coffee ? No
      Can I have porridge, what type ? Yes, with water
      Can I have egg fried or boiled ? yes, either
      Can I have fish including tuna ? yes.

      Full details of allowed foods in all books. Email me your address and I’ll pop some cards in the post for you.

  35. avatar Michelle
    Reply

    I have finished phase 1 and lost about 9lbs, since starting phase 2 I have been yo-yoing and have started to feel bloated. I have been having raisin wheats and skimmed milk for breakfast, wholemeal bread and light Philadelphia, or ham and cheese for lunch. I have had korma curry for a change one night with no carbs. Can you help me with where I am going wrong. Should I go back onto phase 1 for a bit longer

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      We’d suggest going back to Ph1 for a week and then reintroduce one food at a time to make sure you are not intolerant to, for example, wheat. Try starting the day with a fat meal (eggs, bacon…) t=rather than packaged cereal. 9lb down is a good start, well done you.

      • avatar Rosie
        Reply

        Hi
        Bought the book yesterday and it’s on my kindle which my husband has taken to work! I’ve seen how diet works because my friend is now in phase 3 and looks fab. I’m just back from holiday with said friend. I want to start today before I lose my momentum. I’ve got 4st to lose And I’m coeliac. So till hubby gets back with the kindle tonight I’m thinking omelette for breakfast- can I have cheese in it. Vegetable soup for lunch. Would that be a phase 1 choice? Thanks. Rosie

  36. avatar Jilly
    Reply

    I’ve just read the Harcombe Diet, 3-step Plan and can’t find any mention of nuts and seeds. Are they ok to include at any point? I like to add them to porridge oats.

  37. avatar Nadine
    Reply

    Hi
    I’ve got a question regarding dairy alternatives, essentially for phase 1

    Is coconut yogurt and almond milk ok?

    I’ve used goat’s milk/yogurt in the past but have since switched to almond milk for my porridge or coconut yogurt for muesli or cereals.

    Also what are your thoughts on coconut water?

    Cheers

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      Here’s our view on Almond milk… http://theharcombediet.com/the-diet/faqs/can-i-have-almond-milk-in-phase-1-or-phase-2/.
      Our position on Coconuts, in general, is that they are a nut (as the name suggests) and therefore a Phase 3 food. Coconut flesh (the scrummy white stuff we occasionally had as children) is 47% water, 33% fat, 15% carbohydrate and 3% of protein (minerals and ash make up the difference to 100%, as with most foods). We can see little benefit in coconut water, if you’re thirsty, just drink water.

      • avatar Nadine
        Reply

        thank you,

        Thank you for the reply,
        The almond milk i use is organic and has no nasty emulsifiers!! probably the worse thing in it is a little brown rice syrup or I make my own unsweetened. I’m in Australia and we are relatively blessed with the choices of almond milk avail without sugar and nasties

        AS for the coconut water, I drink it when I just really want something other than water as I sometimes just get bored with water and I want a cold drink with some taste. I’m not big on fruit teas, too sweet. I don’t touch sodas or anything else like that so I guess it’s not such a bad alternative in the scheme of things for me 🙂

  38. avatar Kate
    Reply

    i am dairy free and wondered if there is any alternative to NLY maybe a soya alternative like Alpro yoghurt? Also have to take green magma pills herbal in morning on empty stomach can I take these still on phase 1.

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      We don’t recommend any Soya alternative, maybe just skip yoghurt altogether? Some people get on fine with goats milk yoghurt so that may be worth a go?
      Can’t really comment on Green Magma and supplements. Best check with the person who prescribed or suggested them to you.

  39. avatar Jane Marriott
    Reply

    Hi, how much full fat NLY can I eat a day? I have Yeo Valley full fat one and can easily eat 1 large pot 500g a day is this too much for weight lost? I am having NLY in the morning for breakfast and then Tuna and egg salad for lunch and chicken/steak/pork/fish with roasted veg (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, courgettes) with NLY for desert most evenings but my weight lost seems to be very slow and not what I was expecting for what I am eating. Drinks are just plain water and peppermint tea. Please can you let me know the recommended amount of NLY per day. Thanks

    • avatar Andy
      Reply

      That is a lot of Yoghurt on top of everything else. Try having none for a few days, then just a couple of spoonfuls after a meal.

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