10 Common Foods That Are Hard To Digest

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

Do you constantly experience sudden bouts of indigestion? If they seem like they come from out of nowhere, there may actually be a good reason for your stomach troubles. Many of the most common foods are some of the hardest to digest. Read this list to learn why these foods are hard on your stomach and how to ease the discomfort they can cause.

Ice Cream

Given that dairy is one of the hardest food groups to digest, it’s no wonder that ice cream makes it onto this list of hard-to-digest foods. Those with lactose intolerance will have the most trouble with this particular food, but that doesn’t mean that anyone can suffer from gas and bloating as a result of too much ice cream. As an alternative, consider switching to frozen yogurt, which tends to be a little easier on your system, or sorbet, which contains little to no milk.

Chicken Nuggets

Fried foods in general are difficult for your digestive system to process: they’re greasy and high in fat, both of which can lead to stomach issues. However, chicken nuggets are one of the most tummy troubling fried foods, partially because of the increased surface area. With each small nugget fried from side to side and coated in grease, eating this food can put serious strain on your stomach. Try to avoid fried foods and stick to chicken that’s been baked or grilled instead.


Everyone knows that beans have long been associated with flatulence problems. However, the problem is worst if you decide to eat a large serving of beans when they aren’t a normal part of your diet. Gradually add beans into your regular diet instead; this allows your body to build up an enzyme it needs to process the beans more efficiently. You can also cook them to help break the beans down a little before consuming them.

Hot Peppers

Eating peppers packed with heat, such as cayenne or jalapeno, may make your meals more interesting. However, too much of the spicy stuff can upset your stomach and give you heartburn. Even if you drink milk or add sour cream to cool down the flavors, you’re still ingesting the spicy foods causing indigestion. Use hot peppers sparingly or choose milder peppers instead.

Raw Onions

Onions are packed with phytonutrient compounds, many of which are good for heart health. However, some of these compounds irritate the stomach. To make them easier to digest, cook your onions. If you still want some of the health benefits, mix in a small amount of raw onions to your food – just don’t overdo it. The same principle applies to similar foods, including garlic, shallots and leeks.

Citrus Juice

Though they can provide some health benefits, especially when they aren’t loaded with sugar, citrus juices can be difficult to digest when you consume too much of them. The acidity of these drinks plays a big role in the indigestion they can cause. It’s best to drink citrus juices in moderation and to avoid drinking them on an empty stomach.

Raw Broccoli

Uncooked broccoli is good for your health, but all the fiber and sulfur compounds it contains can also do a number on your stomach. Eat raw broccoli in moderation to avoid this problem. You can cook or blanch broccoli – and related vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower – to reduce the digestion problems it causes.

Mashed Potatoes

The milk and/or heavy cream used to make mashed potatoes are what make them taste so good. Unfortunately, they’re also what make this heavy comfort food difficult to digest. Try preparing your potatoes another way, such as roasted or baked. If you crave the creamy goodness of mashed potatoes, make them with a lactose-free milk instead, or low-fat milk or cream.


Many people will be sad to discover that chocolate can be hard for your body to digest. This usually is the case when people overindulge in this sweet treat, so eating it in moderation will likely leave your stomach untroubled. However, those with gastro-esophageal reflux disease are especially sensitive, so even small amounts of chocolate may leave them feeling ill.

Sugar-Free Gum

It’s not the gum itself which can cause indigestion – it’s the artificial sweetener called sorbitol which is added to the gum to make it taste better. The sorbitol causes gas to buildup in your stomach and can lead to a lot of discomfort. Unfortunately, this ingredient is also found in many diet bars, diet shakes and sugar-free candies, so check the packaging before you make a purchase. Other sugar substitutes are often a little easier on your stomach in comparison.

Bottom Line

The good news about all of these foods is that you don’t have to avoid them completely. In most cases, limiting your intake or making slight substitutions will suffice for easing your stomach troubles. In addition to using the tips above, pay attention to how your body responds to certain foods. See a doctor if anything is particularly troubling for your stomach as a food allergy may actually be the culprit.


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