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My Top 5 Go-To Gut-Friendly Meals

Diet and Nutrition

February 07, 2024

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Photography by Nadine Greeff/Stocksy United

Photography by Nadine Greeff/Stocksy United

by Katherine Sawyer, RN, BSN

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Medically Reviewed by:

Jerlyn Jones, MS MPA RDN LD CLT

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by Katherine Sawyer, RN, BSN

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Jerlyn Jones, MS MPA RDN LD CLT

•••••

•••••

You can quickly create restaurant-quality meals at home that may work with your digestive needs.

Having a set of go-to meals that calm your gut is essential when you live with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). But diet is personalized. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. However, many people with IBD may feel better when they eat homemade, easy-to-digest foods.

When my son was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I had to make a lot of changes to our family meals. In an effort to help him feel better, I followed his dietitian’s advice to avoid processed and greasy foods. Our family gave up pizza nights and packaged convenience foods in favor of home-cooked dishes made with potatoes, rice, lean meats, and cooked vegetables.

In time, I found some simple, gut-friendly meals that the whole family now enjoys. Having easy-to-prepare meals not only helps my son feel well but also helps answer that daily nagging question, “What’s for dinner?”

These dishes can be made without dairy, nuts, corn, and gluten, which may be triggers for many people with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.

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1. Turkey burgers

Frying up a turkey burger is quick on a busy weeknight. A turkey burger is also tasty and easier on the stomach than a greasy beef burger. Adding fresh herbs gives the burger lots of flavor.

This turkey burger recipe yields delicious burgers. You could also make a few swaps to make them even tastier or more IBD-friendly. For example, you can use fresh basil instead of parsley if you prefer that flavor profile.

You can also make your own breadcrumbs if you need a gluten-free option: Simply toss a slice or two of gluten-free bread in the blender. I also toss the parsley or basil into the blender with the bread so that I don’t have to mince it.

I recommend getting your hands wet before shaping the burgers into patties so the meat doesn’t stick to your hands. Ground chicken works equally well.

Serve wrapped with lettuce or on a gluten-free bun with sides such as carrot sticks, fruit, or baked chips.

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2. Fish and potatoes

Fish is another fast-cooking protein and has the added benefit of containing omega-3 fatty acids, which can help decrease inflammation.

My favorite way to prepare fish is on the grill. I’ve found that salmon and mahi hold up well on the grill. Pan-frying is another easy option.

I like to season the fish with lemon pepper and garlic salt or powder, spray with cooking spray, and cook for 3–4 minutes per side on a preheated grill or 4–5 minutes per side in a preheated pan.

Serve with herb-roasted potatoes and an easy veggie like steamed broccoli. If you like to keep your potatoes simple, season them with salt and pepper alone.

3. Soup

Soup can be incredibly comforting and nutritious. My personal favorite is this Winter Lentil Soup. I have found that pureeing this soup works well and makes the soup look more appealing to the picky eaters in my family. I like to use an immersion blender, but if you don’t have one, be sure to let it cool before transferring it to a standard blender.

This sausage, kale, and butternut squash soup is also a family favorite. I like to make it with chicken sausage.

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4. Fried rice

I love Asian takeout, but it contains heavily processed oils that are hard to digest. Making a version of takeout at home is easier than you think and so much better for you.

Here is an example of an easy fried rice recipe. I prefer to use avocado oil, as it is an unprocessed oil that withstands high heat. You can even use an avocado oil cooking spray to cook with less oil. My favorite veggies to fry up are carrots, red pepper, zucchini, and peas.

This dish is great with any protein, though my family prefers chicken or tofu. If you use chicken, try chicken tenderloins. They pan-fry easily without getting rubbery. I usually chop them, cook them for a few minutes on each side, then add them to the prepared fried rice. If you need a gluten-free version, simply use gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos.

5. Baked chicken

This breaded baked chicken is as delicious as fried chicken but so much better for you!

For a gluten-free version, try using gluten-free flour and crushed crispy rice cereal instead of breadcrumbs. I like to serve it with rice and steamed peas or roasted sweet potatoes.

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The takeaway

Whether you’re trying to calm your gut or just looking to add more healthy, homemade meals to your repertoire, I hope these meal ideas help you find inspiration in the kitchen. If you’re in a rut, keep trying new recipes. It can take a lot of trial and error to find some go-to meals that work for you. Preparing new meals can get easier with each attempt.

Cheers to eating well and feeling well!

Medically reviewed on February 07, 2024

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About the author

Katherine Sawyer, RN, BSN

Katherine Sawyer, RN, BSN, is a registered nurse and mom to a teen with inflammatory bowel disease. She enjoys writing about a variety of health topics. When she’s not writing, you can find her in the kitchen cooking for her hungry teenagers or attending one of their sporting events.

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