What should i eat if your stomach hurts? This is one of the most common and urgent questions people googling on the internet. Although there are numerous reasons why your stomach might be upset, there are some foods that are particularly likely to exacerbate the symptoms, even if they don’t appear to have caused them in the first place. Most people recommend avoiding any spicy or acidic foods, but depending on the cause of your upset stomach, there are some other options you may want to consider as well.
Common Causes of Stomach Pain
That little “tummy ache” could be attributed to eating too much or too fast, but it could also be a sign of a more serious health problem. In this article, we take a look at the possible causes of stomach pain after eating.
Stomach pain is often caused by simply eating your food too quickly. When you overeat, you might not take the time to chew through your food properly and you might notice that the food generally disappears from your plate very quickly. Take your time and chew slowly when you eat.
It is estimated that nearly 20% of the population is intolerant or sensitive to certain foods. Stomach pain and cramping are common symptoms of food intolerances or sensitivities, which are often associated with dairy, gluten, nuts, yeast, and tomatoes.
Dairy products, nuts, eggs, peanut butter, soy, corn, wheat, and gluten are common food allergies that can cause symptoms such as stomach pain. A food elimination diet or an allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody test can be conducted to determine whether you are allergic to a particular food or substance.
Stomach pain is a common symptom of celiac disease. The condition is characterized by gluten sensitivity. People with celiac disease will immediately react to a specific protein found in gluten called gliadin—it is found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
This is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects approximately 15% of the population. Some symptoms include gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, abdominal pain, or stomach pain after eating. Candida, food allergies, and food sensitivities are also associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
Stomach pain after eating can also indicate pancreatitis, especially when the pain lasts for over six hours. Pancreatitis is known as pancreas inflammation. People with pancreatitis will experience pain that begins around the upper abdomen; the pain will then spread to the back. Other pancreatitis symptoms include fever, nausea, and vomiting.
Diverticulitis is a condition where pouches in the colon become inflamed from bacteria. The pouches are also known as cysts or diverticula. Some symptoms include fever, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, bowel habit changes, and cramping pain, especially around the lower left area of the abdomen. Stomach pain after eating is also common.
When there is a blockage in your colon or small intestine, it can be difficult for foods to be digested properly. When you eat too fast, large pieces of food may not be broken down. A hernia or tumor can also lead to intestinal obstruction.
Foods to eat when you have a stomachache
This is the B in the BRAT diet that our moms encouraged us to follow when our tummies were hurting as youngsters. Bananas provide your body with some much-needed electrolytes to whip your GI tract back into shape. These yellow bunches also offer potassiumto aid your belly when it’s been ravaged by diarrhea and/or vomiting. Hey, we’ve all been there guys. But this is real talk on how to ease your future pains.
The R in the BRAT diet, starchy white rice–mind you, not healthy, whole grain brown rice with plenty of manganese—is very easily digestible, like bananas. White rice also helps to coat the lining of the stomach and soothe your belly by absorbing nasty toxins from unsanitary bratwurst that should not be served to humans.
Applesauce fulfills the A part of the BRAT diet because of its pectin properties. Pectin works as a thickening agent to help form solid stool and prevent recurring diarrhea.
Conversely, apples can come in handy when you’re constipated. Since the skin of an apple is replete with pectin, chomping down on one of these babies that can fit in the palm of your hand can add some necessary roughage to move the process along.
Again, do NOT purchase whole grain, whole wheat, or multi-grain when your stomach is calling for an armistice in the war for its sanity. Instead, make sure to stick with bland carbs like white toast, aka the T in the BRAT diet. Very easily digested and not making any more rumblies in your tummy than necessary, toast also refrains from causing acid reflux. Be kind to your stomach, and skip the health diet for a day (or two).
6. Ginger/ginger ale
My roommate had a wealth of knowledge provided by her mother, who owns her own restaurant and has come up with herbal remedies for ages. While Claudia made me buy ginger ale, you can also go with ginger tea or chews to alleviate nausea induced by stomach unhappiness.
7. Plain potatoes
Also a bland starch like white rice and white toast, potatoes when baked can work as a food you can keep down. Potatoes, like bananas, help make up for potassium depletion and soothe your tummy after a long day of upheavals (literally).
Bland oats and oatmeal will be a comforting presence in quelling your queasiness and can help reduce diarrhea. Make sure to keep it plain though. No fancy additions like you might find at 26 Grains.
9. Saltine crackers
Saltine crackers are recommended not only for what to eat with a stomach ache routinely, but also for women with morning sickness. We’re on the lookout for foods that are easily digestible here, people, and Saltine crackers rank pretty highly up there—unless you have high cholesterol. Then, we’d vouch for a low-salt variation of Saltines if available at your local store.
10. Soup broth
When it comes to what to eat with a stomach ache, clear liquids are preferable. And clear soup broth, as opposed to rich and creamy soups like clam chowder, can keep you hydrated when your body is feeling anything but.
11. Herbal tea
Whenever my tummy hurts or I feel sick in general, chamomile is my welcome companion. Chamomile in particular helps to relieve abdominal pain and reduces inflammation.
12. Coconut water
Like bananas, each bottle of coconut water is filled with electrolytes your body is sorely missing thanks to a certain achy feeling. Coconut water is also high in potassium and will aid in making sure your hydration levels are up to snuff.
Papayas contain an enzyme called papain, which oh-so-kindly aids digestion. By promoting a healthy acidic environment, eating papaya also helps with constipation.
Foods to avoid
Below are some foods to avoid while experiencing or recovering from an upset stomach.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water and becomes slimy or gel-like when wet. Insoluble fiber does not absorb much water, so it does not change consistency much when wet.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, soluble fiber can benefit diarrhea and constipation. When consumed with plenty of water, it helps to form soft, bulky stools. People who have constipation may also benefit from adding some insoluble fiber to their diet.
However, adding insoluble fiber can worsen diarrhea because it speeds up the movement of food through the intestines.
It may also worsen symptoms in people with chronic digestive issues. A person who has chronic digestive issues should talk to their doctor or nutritionist before increasing the amount of insoluble fiber in the diet.
Some food sources of soluble fiber include:
- oat bran
Some food sources of insoluble fiber include:
- wheat bran
- whole grains
High FODMAP foods
The acronym FODMAP stands for ‘fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.’ FODMAPS are short chain carbohydrates that the intestines do not absorb properly. Foods that are high in FODMAPS can trigger symptoms such as:
- abdominal pain and discomfort
- gas and flatulence
- changes in bowel habit
Some examples of high FODMAP foods to avoid include:
- Certain vegetables, including:
- pickled vegetables
- certain fruits, including
- ripe bananas
- Certain meat products, such as:
- products containing wheat
- bran cereals
- dairy foods
- soy milk
Dairy contains the milk sugar lactose. Some people are lactose intolerant, meaning they are unable to digest lactose. They may experience the following symptoms shortly after consuming dairy products:
- stomach rumbling
- stomach pain and cramping
People who are lactose intolerant should avoid consuming dairy products, such as:
Lactose-free dairy products are available in most supermarkets and are suitable for people with lactose intolerance.
Fatty and fried foods
People who are experiencing vomiting or diarrhea should avoid fatty and fried foods. These are difficult to digest and can worsen stomach upset.
Examples of fatty or greasy foods to avoid include:
- fast foods
- high fat meats
- high fat cheeses, including cream cheeses
- whole milk, or milk that is 2% fat
- sour cream
- foods with added butter, margarine, or oil
High-sugar foods and drinks
Consumption of high-sugar foods can lead to a condition called dumping syndrome, or rapid gastric emptying. This is where the stomach rapidly empties its contents into the duodenum, which is the upper part of the small intestine.
A person who has dumping syndrome may develop watery diarrhea. They may also feel the effects of low blood sugar within 30 minutes to 2 hours of eating high sugar foods.
Examples of sugary foods and drinks to avoid include:
- ice cream
- chocolate milk
- sugary sodas
- sports drinks
- fruit juices
- most flavored yogurts
What You Should Be Drinking If You Have a Stomach Ache
Image courtesy of quickmeme.com
No, they’re not as healthy as you think they are, but in this case they’re definitely the move. Make sure they’re supplemented with electrolytes and they’ll replenish your body’s much needed sodium and potassium.
Peppermint or Chamomile Tea
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You can either make your own tea or use a store bought bag, add some honey, and not only will you be cozy AF, but your stomach will chill out. The volatile oils in both plants have been used for ages to help with various issues.
Ginger Tea or Ginger Ale
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Similar to peppermint and chamomile, ginger has numerous healing properties. Drinking it as tea or soda can help with nausea, among other issues. There’s a bunch of recipes, but it can be as easy as grating ginger root into boiling water.
Photo courtesy of onegoodthingbyjillee.com
Add 1/2 a cup of rice (jasmine, sushi, doesn’t matter) to a bowl, cover it with water, and let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Rice water will act as a demulcent, meaning a substance that relieves inflammation by forming a sort of soothing barrier over a membrane, which in this case is the lining of your stomach. #Science.
If you have cramps…
Aloe Vera Juice
Photo by Elise Takahama
Not like the aloe you use on a sunburn, but the juice you can buy in stores. Drink it with honey and it’s actually really good. It has a ton of other benefits too. It has a painkilling properties and helps to regulate blood flow.
Photo courtesy of vanityrich.com
Damn, ginger, back at it again. No but really, ginger water can help with cramps too.
Pineapple or Carrot Juice
Photo by Daisy Dolan
If it’s your favorite time of the month, this one’s for you. Pineapple juice has a ton of bromelain, which effectively reduces cramping and pain caused by your period. Carrot juice can also help relax your muscles.
#SpoonTip: Avoid alcohol and soda. Neither of them are easily digested, so they can both worsen your cramps.
If you have indigestion…
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Again, store bought tea is effective, or you could make your own by boiling water with powdered cinnamon. Cinnamon is a carminative, which means it helps break up gas in your stomach. It can be used for like 20 other things too.