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Gastro Doctors Say These 6 Thanksgiving Dishes Are ‘Low in Gas Production’

If you're worried about Thanksgiving throwing your tummy off, have no fear! These recipes are friendly to your digestive health to keep you happily comfy this holiday.

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Several pieces of pumpkin cake with walnuts on orange tableAnna Efetova/Getty Images

In the US, Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, togetherness and of course some irresistible eats—but we all know the feelings of after-dinner bloat and discomfort that make you wish for an elastic waistband and a big ol’ nap.

More than ever before, we’re learning how those tummy troubles can travel from the digestive system to affect chemicals in the brain and other systems of the body. If lately you’ve been paying closer attention to the best ways to manage your gut health, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to take that off track. Here, two gastroenterologists list the yummy, varied Thanksgiving flavors that won’t be downers after dinner.

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Fennel salad with black olives, orange and almond flakes on white and bright backgroundmemo84/Getty Images

Fennel Salad

Gastroenterologist Dr. Sabine Hazan, co-founder of research lab ProgenaBiome and author of Let’s Talk Sh!t, suggests kicking off your meal with a fennel salad. “This aromatic, licorice-like herb lowers gas production and is delicious with lemon juice and olive oil,” she says.

According to a 2014 review in BioMed Research International, every part of the fennel plant, from the seeds to the fruit, has been used around the world to aid digestion. Infuse your Thanksgiving dinner with some global wellness wisdom and toss this together this Shaved Fennel Salad recipe from our sibling site, Taste of Home.

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beet salad in a white bowl on a marble counter, top viewMichaelle Teuscher/Getty Images

Roasted Beet Salad

“Beets are good for digestion and low in gas production, plus they’re a good source of folate,” Dr. Hazan says. “Roast them with orange, lemon, garlic and other flavors for a dish that is high in vitamin C and riboflavin.”

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Healthy Homemade Baked Orange Sweet Potato wedges with fresh cream dip sauce, herbs, salt and pepperDronG/Getty Images

Sweet Potato Casserole or Wedges

You can never go wrong with sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving! Because they’re a high source of fiber and low in gas production, Dr. Hazan says they’re a gut health-friendly addition to your table.

Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamins A, B-12 and B6 as well as potassium, so you’ll be packing your plate with nutrients. Dr. Hazan suggests making a casserole using sweet potatoes, apples and nuts, or slicing them up and roast the wedges.

If you’re feeling festive, you can also try this Sweet Potato and Turkey Couscous from Taste of Home.

Potato and spinach gratin in creamy garlic sauceBartosz Luczak/Getty Images

Spinach Casserole

“Raw spinach is high in vitamin A, but eating cooked spinach increases the absorption of vitamins A and E, protein, fiber, zinc, thiamin, calcium and iron,” Dr. Hazan says. “Important carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, also become more absorbable.” Whip up this super simple Spinach-Parm Casserole to get the full benefits of this beloved leafy green.

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Greek yogurt with caramelized apples and walnutsOlga Mazyarkina/Getty Images

Yogurt

Fermented foods are a big gut health win. According to a 2022 review in Nutrients, eating fermented foods is associated with a wide array of health benefits: weight management; reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes; and, yes, positive impacts to your gut microbiome.

Yogurt is Dr. Hazan’s fermented food of choice for Thanksgiving. She recommends trying out a sweet yogurt dish (such as any of these good-for-you yogurt desserts) “to ensure your Thanksgiving dinner has calcium, protein, vitamin B12, phosphorus, riboflavinB2 and potassium.”

Steam salmon and vegetables on a white plateNataBene/Getty Images

Fish

Fish might not be a traditional Thanksgiving food—however, foods with essential fatty acids are going to help you manage systemic inflammation, says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, a chronic fatigue and pain specialist and author of From Fatigued to Fantastic! 

So even if you don’t place salmon on the Thanksgiving table, it might be worth making sure you’re getting some healthy fish leading up to, or right after, Thanksgiving Day. Dr. Teitelbaum recommends three to four servings per week of oily fish, like tuna, salmon, or sardines. Just note: fried fish doesn’t count.

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Miranda Manier
Miranda is the Associate Editor for TheHealthy.com and The Healthy section of Reader's Digest magazine. Previously, Miranda was a producer at WNIT, the PBS affiliate in South Bend, Indiana; and the producer in residence for Minneapolis TV news KARE 11, where she won an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award for producing gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial. Miranda also interned at Chicago’s PBS station, WTTW, and worked as the managing editor at the Columbia Chronicle at Columbia College. Outside of work, Miranda enjoys acting, board games, and trying her hand at a good vegan dessert recipe. She also loves talking about TV—so tell her what you’re watching!