Easy to digest foods are probably the last thing we think about when planning tasty menu options for our families. We want everyone to eat healthy, but also to enjoy what they are eating. If eating pasta dishes with marinara sauce gives everyone heartburn — how happy are your diners?

Do you ever find yourself sitting up in bed at night because of terrible indigestion, unable to sleep? Do you struggle to know how to get rid of the heavy clump sitting at the bottom of your stomach after meals? Are you under the impression that you’re a healthy eater, but find that you feel sick a lot of the time after meals?

Well, this is probably because digestion is not a huge topic for people, even nutritionists. Just because a food may be good for your body does not mean it will process well in your body.

Though there are certain foods that are incredibly hard for your body to handle, but maybe not the next person’s. all types of things such as allergies, sensitive stomachs, and intolerances can be the culprit of bad indigestion. It’s all about knowing the basics and knowing your body as well.

When determining what to put on your menu, take time to consider how our digestive systems work. This might make meal time much more pleasant for everyone. Being the chief cook and bottle washer in the house is never an easy task. But showing up with a table full of good food will definitely help. And if that basic sustenance is in the form of easy to digest foods, the after-dinner mood will be greatly improved.

Digestion and How it Works

The human body is an amazing thing. Understanding the basics of how the body works and processes food is important when trying to maintain a healthy family. We eat food and our bodies turn that into energy to fuel our lives. Some foods provide high energy but deliver only a short-lived burst. Other foods offer the same energy, but with a longer staying time. Avoiding “crash” foods, eating healthy and eating easy to digest foods will make everyone happier.

Your digestive system consists of several components; the mouth, the esophagus, the stomach, small and large intestines, and all parts south. Food enters the system through your mouth, where you (hopefully) chew it into small pieces. It travels down your esophagus to your stomach. There it meets up with digestive juices, where it is broken down further before departing on a trip through your intestines. After that… well… you know how this part ends.

This short video describes the process of digestion:

Without all the medical jargon and technical words, digestion is more simply stated as your body breaking down foods into the nutrients you need to survive. The easier we make that process for our bodies, the happier our bodies stay. So maintaining a diet of foods that are easy to digest is a good way to reward your body for all the hard work it does.

Easy to Digest Foods

Many people only tend to worry about their digestion when they are already feeling under the weather and possibly nauseous. Taking some time during your menu planning might help eliminate or ease digestive issues before they happen. Concentrating on easy to digest foods can help with indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux issues. They can also provide extra energy before and after an exercise workout.

It might seem like easy to digest foods can be split into three categories; bland, bland, and more bland. Almost all of the easy to digest foods fall on the side of being moderately tasteless and boring. But you don’t have to settle for that to plan a good menu. Adding some simple carbs and protein sources to other foods can aid in digestion, while keeping meals tasty.

Easy to digest foods. Toast with butter.

Toast with butter. Image: CC0 Public Domain, by lou_zeni, via Pixabay

Breakfast on the go? Grab a banana, some toast with butter, a pre-made fruit cup, or simply some applesauce and start your day without adding to stomach woes. If you’re not as rushed, you can sit down for a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt with fruit. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is always good.

Dinners and lunches don’t have to be boring. Rice, chicken, sauerkraut, salmon, eggs, avocado, and turkey can be parts of very scrumptious meals. A dash of seasoning and some flavor-enhancing additions and poof – a healthy dinner that tastes great and goes down easy. These foods all fall onto the spectrum of being easy on your digestive tract. They provide great taste and texture to mix things up a bit.

For snacks, things like saltines, gelatin, nuts, applesauce, and fruits make great little go-betweens. Most are on the spectrum of easy to digest foods.

3 Worst Foods for Digestion

We can’t discuss all the things that make digestion easier without a small detour to discuss foods that are bad for digestion. Foods that are difficult to digest cause discomfort from heartburn, acid reflux, and general malaise. Everybody is different, but almost everyone has trouble digesting greasy foods, sugary foods, and raw vegetables and fruits.

Easy to digest foods. Hamburger, fries, and onion rings -- example of greasy foods.

Hamburger, fries, and onion rings. Image CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

But wait, fruits and vegetables are on both lists? Yes. Some fruits contain enzymes which aid in digestion. Those fruits include peaches, nectarines, mangoes, bananas, apples, apricots, cranberries, melons, and others. Other fruits are more difficult for our bodies to digest. While cooked vegetables fall onto the easily digestible foods list, raw vegetables are difficult for our bodies to process.

Greasy foods create unique issues. The reason the greasy and high-fat content foods are difficult to digest is that they take more time to break down in our systems. They require more digestive juices, enzymes, and stomach acids. This extra draw on your system causes your body to react by bloating, being nauseous, and adding to overall discomfort.

Sugary foods include the many caffeinated beverages that we consume every day. Coffees, some teas, and sodas. They all play havoc with our bellies. Downing that morning java with french vanilla creamers and a ton of sugar to start your day might wake you up, but might also make you nauseous.

Adding Foods That are Easy to Digest to Your Diet

Cutting down on foods that are difficult to digest will help your body process food, increasing your energy level. Overall you will feel better and many symptoms brought on by an over-stressed digestive system will decrease. It isn’t necessary to completely remove these foods from your diet. Being aware of their properties and working to add the easy to digest foods into your diet will help. Finding that balance between what is easily processed and what isn’t is key to a happy digestive system.

Try combining that morning coffee with a bowl of oatmeal topped with bananas. Eating some toast with butter will help your body digest the coffee and avoid stomach unease.

3 Harmful Foods for Your Body

We touched briefly on not easy to digest foods. Other foods can be extremely harmful to your body.

Easy to digest foods. Warning label on Diet Dr. Pepper can.

Warning on a Diet Dr. Pepper can. Image CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Diet soda is marketed as “better” for you than regular soda, but “diet” sodas will actually make you gain weight. Our bodies find it difficult to process the artificial sweeteners used. Saccharine, sucralose, and aspartame are among the worst artificial sweeteners in use. Diet sodas have been linked to weight gain and increased instances of Type 2 Diabetes in frequent drinkers. If diet sodas are in your normal daily routine you will want to find an alternative.

Yogurt appears both on the easy to digest foods list and harmful for you lists. This is mainly because yogurt packaging is often misleading. Yogurts marketed as probiotic often are not. Pasteurized products are basically stripped of any useful probiotic bacteria. Many yogurts also contain Bovine Growth Hormones (BGH). Sugar content and the type of sweetener used in flavored yogurts can also be misleading. Read nutrition labels at the supermarket to help you decide between good-for-you yogurt and bad-for-you yogurt.

Easy to digest foods. Yogurt with strawberries, kiwi, and chia seeds.

Yogurt with strawberries, kiwi, and chia seeds. Image CC0, via Pixabay

Whole wheat bread products are supposed to be good for you, but many of them are not. Some brands of whole wheat bread contain large amounts of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). This product is 20 times sweeter than regular sugar and this can confuse the hormones in your body. This results in the internal sensors that tell your body when your stomach is full not working. Subsequently, that causes you to continue eating, which can pack on the pounds. When selecting whole wheat products, read those labels and stay away from the brands that contain HFCS.

Putting it All Together

Many of the foods we eat daily are both good for digestion and bad for our bodies. It is beneficial to be a label reader at the supermarket if you want to maintain good health. Providing your body with easy to digest foods is great — but you need to be conscious of hidden sweeteners and other factors that can affect your body.

This is a longer video, but contains a lot of information about digestion and how to improve your health. By avoiding certain foods and adding easy to digest foods to your diet, you can be healthier.


Featured image: CC0, by a2004b12c17, via Pixabay