The Best and Worst Holiday Foods for Digestion

a spread of holiday foods on a table to illustrate The Best and Worst Holiday Foods for Digestion

When it comes to holiday foods for digestion, not all foods are created equal. In our last blog, we discussed ways for you to take care of your digestive health over the holidays, and one of the most significant contributors to digestive issues over this holiday season is the food that we eat. The holidays are full of decadent treats and festive dishes, but having an understanding of what is more likely to lead to uncomfortable GI symptoms can help you navigate this time of year. We’re sharing the best and worst holiday foods for digestion so you can know which dishes to avoid and which dishes to dig in.

Best Holiday Foods for Digestion


There are many different ways to incorporate this digestive superfood into your holiday dishes. Oats are an easy way to add digestive benefits to your mealtime, from warming up to a bowl of oatmeal in the morning or adding oats to banana bread or other baked goods. Oats are full of prebiotics that can help keep your gut health balanced and your digestion on track. 


After the autumn harvest of apples, it’s likely to see them as the main ingredient in a variety of holiday dishes. Apples are full of fiber, making them one of the best foods for digestion, but what sets this fruit apart from other fiber-containing produce is the specific type of fiber it contains. Pectin, the fiber found in apples, is gentler on the stomach than other forms of fiber and has also been shown to provide protective benefits for the lining of the gut.


While not technically a food, water is key to our digestion and our overall health. Water intake typically decreases during the winter months, leaving us dehydrated and with sluggish digestive systems. Keep your digestive system and your other bodily systems running smoothly by maintaining regular and adequate water intake.


Broccoli, especially when steamed or roasted, makes for the perfect side dish at a holiday gathering, and when you prioritize your vegetable consumption, your digestive system will thank you. Broccoli has been linked to better diversity of microbiota in the gut, and overall better digestive health, making it one of the key players on your holiday dinner table.


You can find beans in all sorts of holiday dishes, from green beans to bean dips and bean soups. Not only are beans high in fiber content, but they also promote nutrient absorption in the bloodstream while protecting against toxins. All of these benefits contribute to gut health and improved digestion.

Worst Holiday Foods for Digestion

Fried foods

It’s no secret that fried food is considered junk food. Not only does fried food contain very minimal nutritional value, but the high-fat content can make for difficult and uncomfortable digestion. Other GI symptoms, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea, may also occur, putting a damper on your holiday festivities.

Soft cheese

You may feel tempted to hit the cheese plate at a holiday party, but depending on your digestive system, you may want to reconsider. A large portion of the population (approximately 65%) has a reduced ability to digest lactose as they grow older, which means that consuming cheese, especially soft cheese like Brie and blue cheeses, may inflame the stomach and lead to digestive issues.


In addition to being a stimulant, coffee is highly acidic, which can lead to discomfort and indigestion in some cases. Before warming up in the morning or winding down after dinner, take note of how you feel before and then again after your coffee to determine what your intake should be.

Garlic and Onions

Garlic and onions are found in so many different dishes; it’s unfortunate that they’re considered some of the worst holiday foods for digestion. Because both of these ingredients contain fructans, they have the potential to cause cramping, gas, or diarrhea when consumed in large quantities. You can avoid uncomfortable GI symptoms by watching your portion size and staying mindful of the ingredients in your food.


Chocolate is an example of rich food that can is high in sugar and fat. Foods that are high in fat can trigger reflux symptoms and can slow down digestion. We know that the holiday season is full of rich treats and dishes, but you can avoid digestive problems by limiting how much you indulge.

Contact Birmingham Gastroenterology

If you are experiencing issues with your digestive system, contact the team at Birmingham Gastroenterology Associates. Using our expertise, we can help diagnose digestive problems and work with you to help your digestive system regain its normal function. We can also help answer any questions about the best and worst foods for digestion to keep you feeling your best. To make an appointment to discuss your symptoms and treatment options, call us at (205) 271-8000.

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