Fruits That Are Easier to Digest

People who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often find themselves wondering what to eat. Often, this results in a diet that consists mainly of simple carbohydrates and tea, which is not a nourishing diet for someone who requires extra nutrients. While a gastroenterologist and a nutritionist or dietician are going to be the best source of information about diet, there is also a certain amount of trial and error that needs to be undertaken. What some people, especially those recently diagnosed or not feeling well, might not realize right away is that there are better choices available when it comes to foods. Fruits that are easier to digest may be helpful additions to the diet. A diet consisting of many fresh foods is the best way to receive vitamins and minerals.

Remember to check with a doctor before making any additions or deletions in a diet plan. Keeping a food and symptom diary is also a good idea when making dietary changes.



Papaya on a colorful plate

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Papaya is one example of a fruit that is often easier to digest, and in fact, it can actually aid the digestion of protein. Papayas contain an enzyme called papain that breaks down proteins and makes them more available for use by the body. In fact, it's so effective that this enzyme is used as a meat tenderizer.

Like most fruits, papayas are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some of the vitamins and minerals that can be found in papayas include those that people who have IBD may find themselves deficient: vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate.



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Bananas are one of the world's most perfect foods. From a practical standpoint, they couldn't be any easier to eat—they come in their own packaging and can be eaten almost anywhere without utensils or even a napkin. They are a good source of potassium, which is a nutrient that people with IBD may be lacking. Other vitamins and minerals contained in bananas include magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Bananas are easy to digest and are often recommended for people who are experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. People with a j-pouch or an ileostomy may find that bananas will help thicken up the output and help to avoid or clear up loose stools.

You should note though, that bananas are high in FODMAPs, and should be consumed with caution in patients with dyspepsia and/or IBS.

The best type of banana for those with IBD is going to be when there is no more green on the skin and it is yellow or even beginning to see some brown spots. A ripe banana will contain more antioxidants than an unripened one and will also be easier to digest.



Cantaloupe melons.

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Cantaloupe is a type of melon with a fragrant, fleshy interior. In the United States, the cantaloupe we often find in the grocery store is actually called a muskmelon. All the varieties of cantaloupes contain many nutrients important to better health, and in fact, contain some that are quite important to people who have IBD. Cantaloupes are high in vitamins A and C, as well as potassium, dietary fiber, and antioxidants.

Cantaloupes are sweet when eaten raw, and because the flesh of the fruit is so soft, can be easily blended into a smoothie. It can also be mixed into a fruit salad with other easy to digest fruits, or eaten with yogurt.

Cantaloupes should be sliced and eaten when they are properly ripened so that the flesh is not too hard. To choose a ripe cantaloupe, give the end of the melon a little push. You should feel a little bit of give in the outer rind—it should not sink in too much, or be hard and resistant. To save the cantaloupe for eating in a few days, choose one that does have the harder rind on the end, and let it ripen on the counter for a day or two. After it is ripe, store it in the refrigerator.



Watermelon Slices

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Watermelon brings on thoughts of summer barbecues and eating at a picnic table outside. But many grocery stores stock watermelon all year-round, which is good news for people with IBD who need nutrient-packed, easily digestible foods in their diet. The seedless variety isn't completely seedless, but it is largely so, which is also helpful for those who need to avoid the seeds in their food.

Most people would probably guess that watermelon is high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, but also vitamins A and C, which is helpful for people who have IBD that are looking to increase their intake of those vitamins. But watermelon also contains some potassium—not as much as some other foods, but yet a little surprising extra for this melon.

You should note that watermelon is high in FODMAPs, and should be consumed with caution in patients with dyspepsia and/or IBS.

True to its name, watermelon has a high water content. Hydration is key for people with IBD.



Honeydew Melon

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Honeydew is a type of melon that often gets a bad rep. It is sometimes ignored in favor of other fruits, but it can be a helpful addition to the diet for people who have IBD. Honeydew has a smooth rind and a fleshy, light green interior. It has a mild taste and it is sweet when eaten alone but also makes a good addition to a fruit salad.

What makes honeydew a good choice for IBD is the fact that it is easily digestible and is also high in vitamin C. Honeydew won't continue to ripen on your counter or in the refrigerator if it has a green rind, so you've got to make your best choice of the melon while you're at the market. A ripe honeydew will have a rind that is somewhere between creamy white and golden yellow, with no green. The rind should give a little when pushed: it shouldn't be hard, and it shouldn't be mushy. Letting it stand for a few more days after buying it will make for a sweeter taste. Just don't let it go too long — it can get become overripe and develop an unappetizing texture.

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