Cooking for the Sensitive Gut

Grilled sardines

Sometimes the simplest food is best for a sensitive gut. Often food is made too complicated with lists of hard to find ingredients and complicated cooking methods. My motto when ever I am cooking is “keep the food, simple, natural, fresh and tasty”.

Fish brushed with a little olive oil grilled or fried is the epitome of simple eating at its best.  It is lovely served with a side of fresh salad and new potatoes. A meal like this is nutritionally balanced and easy to digest. It is also quick to prepare.

A simple fish supper, cooked in a Mediterranean style is perfect for eating outside on warm summer evenings either on your own or with family and friends.

One fish that is overlooked in this country (but not in the Mediterranean) is the sardine. Fish and other seafood are high in protein and do not contain carbohydrates. They are also a rich source of omega three fatty acids and very economical. Four fresh sardines costs less than £2.00.

If you don’t fancy sardines, try grilled tuna, sole or cod. They all work really well served with a side of salad and some new potatoes.

Many people tell me they are not confident cooking fish, so here are some of my top tips:

  • Fish does need to be eaten within a day of purchase otherwise wrap it well and pop it in the freezer until you are ready to eat it.
  • Fish is quick to cook. It takes 10 minutes for a regular sized fillet of fish (150g)  to cook. Placed the seasoned fillet on a tray in a hot oven (200C), covered with foil. To check if it is cooked just insert the blade of a sharp knife into the centre of the fillet and it should flake easily. The flesh  of fish looses its translucency when cooked.
  • Fish can be fried, baked or grilled.
  • Remove the skin from fillets by placing the fish skin side down. Using a sharp knife begin to cut the skin away from the flesh holding the skin firmly as you do.
  • Always check the fish fillet for bones by running your fingers over the surface of the fish pulling out any stray bones as you go.

One thing to watch for if you have a sensitive gut is not to add other foods to your meal that may upset your gut like onions and garlic. Also keep fat to a minimum when cooking accompaniments to fish. Chips can cause problems in a sensitive gut because they are high in fat which can trigger symptoms. An alternative to chips is cutting potato wedges, spraying them with oil and then baking in a hot oven (220C) for half and hour. You will still get that crispy potato vibe.

Grilled sardines with lemon

Serves 4


  • 8 fresh sardines
  • olive oil
  • lemon, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • parlsey chopped


Ask the fishmonger to clean and descale the sardines to create a ‘butterfly’. The fishmonger will not be able to get all the bones out of the sardine. Once the sardines are cooked, the flesh can be easily lifted off the bones. Rinse the prepared sardines in cold water and dab dry with kitchen paper. Season the sardines with salt and pepper. Put to one side.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a large frying pan and allow to heat up gently. Place the lemon slices in the pan and cook until slightly browned. Remove from the pan and set on one side.

Place a little more oil in the pan and when hot place the sardines flesh side down and cook for three minutes. Flip over the sardines and cook for another two minutes.

Serve the sardines and lemon with salad and new potatoes – I steamed my new potatoes and then placed them in the hot frying pan to soak up the juices and brown a little before serving. I also scattered a little samphire and chopped parley over mine.

If you want to find out more about IBS have a look at Dr Read’s posts on The Sensitive Gut. It’s a great read.

For more information about how to manage your sensitive gut see IBS Network

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This entry was written by Joan Ransley and published on July 23, 2016 at 7:18 am. It’s filed under Basic methods, Dinner, Lunch and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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