Many people are plagued by abdominal pain after eating, often in combination with a feeling of fullness and flatulence. This also often burdens and overshadows food intake, which should normally go hand in hand with enjoyment and good mood.
The reasons for this can be varied and there are also a variety of methods to deal with the unpleasant pain. This article looks at the triggers for abdominal pain after eating and gives you tips on what to do if you do.
the essentials in brief
- Stomach pain after eating is a common problem, almost everyone has had it at some point
- What triggers the abdominal pain can be very different. From food intolerance to bad food to an irritable stomach, many things can be the cause
- If the abdominal pain after eating is unbearable, has been dragging on for a long time and no trigger is apparent, a doctor should be consulted
Background: What you should know about stomach pain after eating
Stomach pain after eating can have a variety of causes and there are just as many ways to do something about it. In the following we will provide some clarity on this.
Why does the stomach hurt at all?
If there is a change in an organ, for example the stomach, this is recognized by the pain receptors located there. This happens, for example, in the event of inflammation or overstretching. The pain receptors transmit this stimulus via the nerve tracts to the spinal cord and then to the brain, where the stimulus is then processed and the well-known pain sensation is generated.
Abdominal pain and discomfort are major contributors to poor well-being. (Image Source: Shora Shimazaki / Pexels)
Since the abdomen is traversed by a large network of nerves that is constantly in contact with the brain and receives and transmits stimuli, this network of nerves is also known as the "abdominal brain". Due to the close connection to the brain, said abdominal brain can also ensure that grief and suffering affect the abdominal organs such as the stomach and can thus trigger digestive problems or pain (1).
What can cause stomach pain after eating?
Stomach pain after eating can have a variety of triggers. In addition to the effects of the food previously consumed and diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, irritable bowel syndrome should also be mentioned, which affects around 10-20% of the German population.
The specific triggers for irritable bowel syndrome are still unknown, and the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is often a diagnosis of exclusion if other diseases do not apply and the symptoms match.
Those affected suffer from abdominal pain, bloating and cramps - often after eating, as food and other events excessively irritate the gastrointestinal tract in irritable bowel syndrome. The psychological component also plays a major role, as those affected also react strongly to stress and anxiety (2).
What Foods Cause Stomach Pain?
If you often struggle with abdominal pain or other symptoms such as diarrhea or flatulence after eating, the reason for this can certainly be a food intolerance or intolerance.
Diet is often the trigger for abdominal pain.
An example would be fructose intolerance, where those affected are sensitive to the fructose found in fruit. Lactose intolerance is also widespread, in which those affected react sensitively to the milk sugar present due to a lack of a certain enzyme. This is mainly found in milk, quark, cheese and cream.
Anyone who reacts with abdominal pain to spelt, wheat, rye and many processed foods is probably suffering from celiac disease, i.e. an intolerance to gluten. Anyone who is sensitive to mature cheese, red wine, sausage, fish, cocoa and vinegar should be tested for histamine intolerance (3).
All of these intolerances can be detected by relatively simple breath tests or by a gastroenterologist's process of elimination, and by avoiding the foods in question, the symptoms should soon subside.
What can be done for acute abdominal pain?
As different as the causes of abdominal pain are, so are the ways to deal with it. It is important to emphasize that something different helps everyone and that many things can be tried to find the right method for stomach pain.
Depending on the pain trigger, it is often felt to be beneficial to massage the abdomen in circular motions or to drink tea, for example made from fennel, aniseed or caraway. If the abdominal pain is caused by a heavy meal, a walk in the fresh air or a gentle, antispasmodic from the pharmacy can already help. Warmth, for example from a cherry pit pillow or a hot-water bottle, is often felt to be beneficial (4).
What diseases trigger abdominal pain after eating?
In addition to some other reasons, there are also diseases for which the occurrence of abdominal pain after eating can definitely be characteristic. It is therefore important to have this examined by a doctor so that treatment can be given if necessary.
The already discussed irritable bowel syndrome should be mentioned as well as the presence of a stomach ulcer, which can cause problems due to the irritation that occurs, especially after eating. Diseases of the small or large intestine, for example in the form of an ulcer, can also be the cause of abdominal pain after eating.
All of these diseases can be confirmed or ruled out minimally invasively with a gastroscopy or colonoscopy, a CT, MRI, X-ray or an ultrasound examination (5).
How useful is bland food for stomach pain after eating?
In order to soothe the gastrointestinal tract and, above all, not to irritate it further, it is advisable to eat light food when abdominal pain occurs. This means foods that are gentle on the stomach and therefore do not provoke further pain or discomfort.
Whole food and a balanced diet can contribute to healthy digestion. (Image source: Jerzy Górecki / Pixabay)
The digestive system is relieved and can therefore concentrate more on its healing in order to be able to regain its functionality. Light food can be given in liquid form as well as in the form of solid, wholesome food. This depends on the severity of the symptoms or disease (6).
When should you see a doctor?
If the abdominal pain is unusually severe and therefore severely debilitating and there are no signs of improvement, a doctor should be consulted so that a serious illness can either be ruled out or found and thus treated. In this way, serious damage to health can be avoided (7).
Stomach pain: The best tips & tricks against stomach pain after eating
Anyone who suffers from abdominal pain after eating wants to get rid of it as soon as possible. Depending on the cause, there is a range of possibilities, which we will discuss below.
So that the gastrointestinal tract can rest and regenerate, it is advisable to eat a diet that is gentle on the stomach and does not put additional strain on it. We have listed below which foods and drinks are suitable for this (8).
|Wholemeal bread and toast||tap water|
|Low-fat, unbreaded sea fish||Lightly carbonated water|
|Low-fat soups, sauces and broths||fennel tea|
|Ripe fruit like bananas||Camomile tea|
|lean meat||mint tea|
|anise and caraway seeds||3:1 diluted fruit juices|
|Soft-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, omelets||3:1 diluted vegetable juices|
Treating stomach pain with home remedies
If you don't want to take medication immediately, you can try simple home remedies to relieve abdominal pain.
In a study with rats it was found that heating a part of the body to 40°C causes the heat receptors to be activated and at the same time the pain receptors to be blocked. It is assumed that this works similarly in humans. Therefore, putting on pillows with cherry pits or hot-water bottles can have a pain-relieving effect on abdominal pain (9).
With abdominal pain, moderate exercise in the form of yoga, gymnastics, jogging or swimming, for example, can be very helpful. Activity improves blood flow and this causes muscles to relax, which can help relieve cramps (10). Exercise also has a stimulating effect on digestion.
Tea is also a popular home remedy for stomach pain after eating. Not only is the warmth felt to be beneficial, but the various teas also have a relaxing effect on the digestive system.
Peppermint tea helps against nausea, cramps and flatulence, the same applies to fennel tea, which also has an anti-inflammatory effect. Chamomile tea is also perceived as beneficial because it also has a calming effect (11).
Stomach pain after eating is a well-known problem in the population and often people find ways to overcome this problem. The ways to eliminate abdominal pain are about as varied as the triggers for this type of abdominal pain.
It is important that serious illnesses can be ruled out by the doctor, so that there is certainty that the mere use of sometimes helpful home remedies is sufficient. Basically, nutrition is a major cornerstone of our well-being and it is therefore important to pay attention to wholesome and healthy nutrition in order to be able to avoid stomach ache right from the start or to be able to get rid of it quickly if it does occur.
- Internists on the Net (2021) - How abdominal pain arises Source
- Associations for independent health advice, Dipl. oec. trophic Andrea Barth (2002) - Irritable bowel syndrome: Mysterious abdominal pain after eating Source
- Pharmacy review, Dr. Martina Melzer (2019) - Food intolerances: An overview Source
- Deutsche Familienversicherung (2019) - Abdominal Pain: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Source
- Schön Klinik (2020) - A good gut feeling again Source
- Practice Vita, Carolin Banser (2018) - What is light food? Source
- Pharmacy review, Dr. medical Claudia Osthoff (2017) - Stomach pain - what can it be? Source
- health, Katja Schulte Editors (2020) - Eat wholesome and wholesome food with light whole foods Source
- The Physiological Society: King, Liu, Burnstock, Townsend-Nicholson (2006) - Inhibitory interaction between activated TRPV1 and P2X3 receptors Source
- gesundheit.de (2020) - The 12 best tips for abdominal pain Source
- Bavarian State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection (2020) - Enjoying tea - healthy but burdened Source