September 23 is National Go With Your Gut Day! Let this day serve as your friendly reminder that great health can start in the gut. TV personality Randy Jackson created this holiday to spread awareness about the importance of digestive health and its impact on your physical and emotional well-being. On September 23, Randy and Unify Health welcome people to get involved by sharing photos of their gut-healthy meals on social media with the hashtag #GoWithYourGutDay.
Eating is a pleasure for many people. But for those who suffer from gut health issues, like indigestion, bloating, or heartburn, meals can be anxiety-inducing. Picking out the easiest foods to digest can feel like walking through a field of landmines.
If this sounds all-too-familiar, don’t fret. Here’s a reference list of easy-to-digest foods, along with a few rules of thumb for picking out easily-digestible foods. Of course, everyone’s body is different, so see which foods work best for you.
What Makes A Food Easy To Digest?
Everyone’s digestive system is different. That’s why it can be difficult to give blanket recommendations for easy-to-digest foods. However, there are a few rules of thumb that can work for most people. Keep an eye toward these:
1. Foods Low In Fiber
While fiber is an important part of a healthy diet, it can be hard for your body to process. In fact, the body can’t digest fiber – it passes through the large intestine and can cause digestive discomfort for some.1,2,3
2. Foods Low In Fat
While healthy fats are essential, fatty foods – particularly fried foods – are hard to digest and can be irritating to your gut.4,5
3. Foods That Are Easy To Chew
Fibrous foods, like steak and raw vegetables, ask a lot of your digestive system. Choosing foods that are soft and easy to chew may be less stressful for your digestive tract.6
Try to avoid these foods when you are hoping for an easier digestive experience:
- Fried foods
- Spicy foods
- Sugary foods
- Acidic fruits
- High-fat dairy products
- Tough, fatty meats
- Seeds and nuts
- Foods that cause gas, like cabbage and cauliflower
- Caffeinated drinks
- Carbonated drinks
Foods That Are Usually Easy On Stomachs And Easily Digested
While whole grain foods tend to have more health benefits than foods made with refined flours, they may also be tougher to digest. Whole grains – like wheat bread – have more fiber than their refined counterparts. If you’re looking for an easy-to-digest food, reach for low-fiber, refined grains. Here are some ideas for easy-to-digest grains:
- Toast (cooking bread breaks down carbs and makes it easier to digest)9
- White rice
- White bread or rolls
- Plain bagels
- White pasta
- Refined cereals
Meat Products And Protein Sources
Some types of meat are easier to digest than others. In general, you want to go with lean meat, like fish or skinless poultry. These proteins have less fat and fewer fibers than something like steak, so they may be easier to digest.
The method of cooking also makes a big difference. For easier-to-digest meat, try broiling, boiling, poaching, or even grilling — and avoid deep-frying. Here are some ideas for meats and proteins to reach for when your tummy feels off.12
- Skinless chicken
- Tender cuts of pork
- Lean ground beef
If you’re lactose intolerant (and many people are), go ahead and skip this section. You already know that dairy doesn’t sit well with you. For everyone else, dairy is a good, low-fiber option that may be easy to digest. Choose low or nonfat varieties, since they are easier to digest. Many dairy products also contain probiotics – bonus points for good digestion.
- Lowfat or nonfat milk
- Sour cream
- Cottage cheese
- Low fat cheeses, like ricotta or mozzarella
- Low sodium cheeses, like swiss
- Butter (it’s high in fat, but also high in GI-friendly butyrate, so it’s good for digestion if used sparingly)15,16,17
Fruits tend to be high in fiber, so you’ll want to choose carefully here. Cooked or canned fruits tend to have less fiber than raw fruits. Here are some ideas for fruits that may be easy to digest for most people:
- Ripe bananas
- Honeydew melon
- Canned fruits without seeds or skins, like canned pears18
Similar to fruit, vegetables generally have a high fiber content. Cooked vegetables contain less fiber than raw veggies. So, if you’re looking to make your vegetables easier to digest, consider steaming, braising, poaching, or simmering them. Here are some ideas for easy-to-digest, low-fiber vegetables:
- Yellow squash without seeds
- Green beans
- Potatoes with skin removed19
Snacks, Condiments, And Other Foods
When searching for snacks and other foods that are easy to digest, remember that soft-consistency, low-fiber, cooked, and “bland” foods are best.20 Here are a few more ideas:
- Mayonnaise and simple salad dressings (avoid “zesty” or anything too acidic)
- Olive oil
- Plain broth, bouillon, and bone broth
- Ketchup and non-spicy mustard
- Spices (non-spicy), cooked herbs, and salt in small amounts
- Popsicles and gelatin
Ideas For Easy-To-Digest Meals
The good news is that there really are so many options of foods for people dealing with digestive issues. If you need more inspiration, here are a few ideas for how to combine the ingredients above to make easy-to-digest meals.
- White toast with butter and a hard boiled egg
- Sliced papaya and peaches over yogurt or cottage cheese
- Scrambled eggs with spinach and swiss
- Grilled cod sandwich on french bread
- Skinless chicken breast on a seedless bun with swiss cheese and avocado
- Baked turkey with a side of grits
- Broiled salmon over white rice with a side of green beans
- A baked potato with the skin removed, topped with butter and avocado
- Chicken baked with Italian herbs, served with white pasta tossed in butter23
Tips And Tricks For Easier Digestion
Eating easily digestible foods may make a noticeable difference in your digestion quickly. To help your digestive system even more, here are a few tips:
- Slow down. Chew your food slowly and thoroughly. This may help prevent swallowing excess air while eating, which can cause gas and bloating.24
- Consider taking a probiotic like Multi-GI 5. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that may help support digestive health.25,26,27
- Stop eating 3-4 hours before you go to sleep. Digestion is naturally slower at night, so it helps to give your body plenty of time to digest dinner before you hit the hay.28
- If you smoke, consider quitting. Quitting has been shown to provide relief from digestive issues.29
- Take time to relax and manage your stress. Stress directly affects your digestion – when your body is in crisis, internal energy is diverted away from your digestive system. Managing your stress can help support better digestion.30,31
- Walk after a meal. Being upright after a meal may ease bloating and help gravity move food through your digestive system.32
- Keep a food diary. This can help you identify foods that trigger digestive issues. Once you identify foods you are sensitive to, you can try cutting them out of your diet. Bring your food diary in and ask your doctor for help with this.33
Chew On This
Next time you’re experiencing abdominal discomfort, reflux, or bloating, pull out this list of the easiest foods to digest, and make yourself a delicious meal. Everyone experiences digestive issues from time to time, and it helps to have a resource to turn to. If you find yourself suffering from frequent digestive issues, it may be time to call a doctor. Your doctor may be able to help you identify certain triggers that are affecting you.
Check out Unify Health on Instagram for all of the latest tips, photos, and more content related to #GoWithYourGutDay!
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