Abdominal pain after eating can be caused by eating too much or too fatty food, spoiled or contaminated food, food hypersensitivity or a (chronic) intestinal disorder. But pain in organs ranging from the stomach, intestines, appendix, liver, gallbladder, spleen or pancreas can also contribute to abdominal pain after eating. The most common causes of abdominal cramps or pain after eating is eating too much or too fatty food. If you regularly suffer from abdominal pain (immediately) after eating, you would be wise to consult your doctor. Sometimes it helps to first take some measures if you suspect that your stomach ache after eating is related to overeating, too spicy and spicy food, eating too much (overeating), or eating gas-forming foods that cause a bloated stomach. gets. Abdominal pain after eating may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying cause. Treatment is aimed at the underlying cause and can often be achieved with self-care.
- Symptoms of stomach pain after eating
- Abdominal cramps due to eating too much or too fatty food
- Excessive eating
- Eating too fatty
- Drink plenty of fluids while eating
- Pain after eating due to food
- Food that causes gas formation
- Yogurt, milk, whipped cream and cheese
- Spicy and spicy food
- Abdominal pain after eating bread
- Food hypersensitivity
- Umbrella term
- Food allergy
- Food intolerance (milk, eggs, fish, tree nuts and peanuts)
- Abdominal pain after eating fruit (apple, pear, kiwi)
- Abdominal pain after eating due to heartburn
- Abdominal pain after meals due to constipation
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Abdominal pain after eating due to pathogens
- Food poisoning
- Stomach flu
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Stomach, gallbladder and pancreas
- Stomach ulcer
- Stomach cancer
- What to do?
Cramping stomach pain after eating / Source: Istock.com/Wavebreakmedia
Symptoms of stomach pain after eating
Abdominal pain after eating in the upper abdomen or lower abdomen and abdominal cramps after eating can be accompanied by the following complaints:
- feeling nauseous after eating
- acid reflux
- bloated feeling
- swollen abdomen
- hard stomach
- gas and flatulence
- smelly farts
- uncomfortable fullness after a meal
- full quickly during a meal
- mild to severe upper abdominal pain
- burning sensation in the lower abdomen
- burning pain in your chest or arm
- partial regurgitation of stomach contents
Stomach pain from overeating / Source: Andrey Popov/Shutterstock.com
Abdominal cramps due to eating too much or too fatty food
Many people complain of digestive problems after enjoying a large meal. If you eat too much or eat too quickly, you may experience abdominal pain or a heavy feeling in the stomach. This is a signal from your body that you need to stop eating because it has had enough. Eating excessively can also make you feel bloated. For example, you can suffer from stomach ache by eating too many pancakes or having a plate of pasta for the second or third time.
Eating too fatty
Not only can you develop complaints after eating too quickly or too much, but eating too much fatty food can also cause stomach pain, nausea or a feeling of fullness. Therefore, avoid large, heavy meals and very fatty food, such as fries and snacks from the deep fryer with lots of fatty sauces such as mayonnaise and/or satay sauce. It is better to eat small, easily digestible meals spread throughout the day.
Garlic can cause gas / Source: Istock.com/Mallivan
Drink plenty of fluids while eating
Drinking a lot of water, (fresh) fruit juices, (carbonated) soft drinks or other drinks after or during food can also cause digestive complaints. By drinking during a meal you dilute the stomach acid, which means that the food ends up poorly digested in the intestines and is not absorbed properly. The food mixture starts to ferment, which can cause flatulence and abdominal cramps.
Pain after eating due to food
Food that causes gas formation
Intestinal cramps often occur after foods that cause gas formation, such as cabbage (except cauliflower and broccoli), peppers, legumes, leeks, onions, beans, nuts, garlic and spicy food. But products with a lot of sugar (such as candy and cookies) or sorbitol (sweetener) can also cause abdominal cramps.
Yogurt, milk, whipped cream and cheese
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest the milk sugar lactose and an abnormal reaction occurs in the body after consuming foods that contain the sugar lactose (milk sugar). Lactose is mainly found in dairy products such as milk, whipped cream and yoghurt. So if you regularly have stomach ache after consuming dairy products, you may have lactose intolerance. People with lactose intolerance should not eat all types of cheese, but nowadays there is also lactose-free cheese.
Stomach pain after eating because of peppers / Source: Holbox/Shutterstock.com
Spicy and spicy food
Spicy dishes, such as those known in Mexican or Asian cuisine, can lead to stomach ache after eating. Many of the spices commonly used in modern cooking contain the chemical capsaicin, which can cause stomach upset.
Almost all types of peppers contain this substance, from jalapeño peppers to chili peppers. Capsaicin is also found in chili powder, sauces such as Tabasco (a pepper sauce), sambal and salsa sauce. Capsaicin is the compound responsible for the hot taste of chili pepper flavor; for regular pepper this is piperine.
Meat generally takes three hours to digest, while fruit and vegetables only take 45 minutes and legumes and pasta take about 2 hours. Red meat, beef, but also pork can sometimes cause digestive complaints. Your stomach and intestines are not designed to digest (a lot of) meat.
Stomach pain after eating bread / Source: Martin Sulman
Abdominal pain after eating bread
Many people who eat wheat bread report complaints such as abdominal pain, bloating, joint complaints, restlessness and poor sleep (and lack of sleep). Many people report that their complaints disappear like snow in the sun if they give up grains or eat spelled bread instead of wheat bread. In 2023, further research into the exact cause of this is necessary. There is currently no good scientific evidence for such stories.
Food hypersensitivity refers to hypersensitivity reactions to food, such as food allergy and food intolerance. This means you cannot tolerate certain foods that many other people can tolerate. This can cause problems with your intestines, among other things. If you develop complaints after a meal, it is useful to write down what you have eaten. This way you can find out which foods trigger the symptoms.
Stomach pain after eating nuts / Source: Istock.com/jjovanotti
According to the Nutrition Center, food hypersensitivity is the umbrella term for hypersensitivity reactions to food such as food allergy and non-allergic food hypersensitivity or food intolerance. Intestinal complaints occur with food hypersensitivity to lactose (sugar that naturally only occurs in dairy products) and food hypersensitivity to gluten (known as ‘celiac disease’). Food allergies can also cause stomach or intestinal complaints, as well as other complaints.
A food allergy is an abnormal reaction of your body to a normal nutrient or food component. If it concerns a wrongly targeted reaction of the immune system to the food, then it is a food allergy. A food allergy is an abnormal reaction of your body to a normal nutrient. There may also be so-called ‘cross-reactions’. Cross-reactions can arise, among other things, when there is a biological relationship between two or more foods or substances. For example, someone with a latex allergy may have an anaphylactic reaction as a result of the cross-reaction after eating kiwi or banana, for example. The proteins of the banana and the kiwi are so similar to the proteins in latex that your body also responds to this.
Food intolerance (milk, eggs, fish, tree nuts and peanuts)
A food intolerance is often confused with a food allergy, but the body’s immune system does not play a role in a food intolerance. The most commonly caused food intolerances for children are milk, eggs, fish, tree nuts and peanuts.
Stomach pain after eating fruit may be due to fructose intolerance / Source: Darios44/Istock.com
Abdominal pain after eating fruit (apple, pear, kiwi)
Fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. That is why the Nutrition Center recommends eating at least 2 portions (200 grams) of fruit per day. However, if you experience stomach pain after eating fruit, meeting this daily recommendation may be difficult.
If you experience stomach pain, bloating, heartburn and diarrhea every time you eat fruit such as an apple, pear, kiwi, pineapple, avocado or orange, you may have fructose intolerance . Fructose intolerance is a classic food intolerance. The sugar in fruit passes undigested to the intestines. The bacteria in the intestines feed on the fructose, releasing carbon dioxide and hydrogen gases. These gases result in the symptoms associated with fructose intolerance.
The only way to reduce the pain, bloating, heartburn and diarrhea associated with fructose intolerance is to completely eliminate fructose from your diet. In addition to fruit, fructose is also found in honey, alcohol, soda and other drinks containing high fructose corn syrup.
Abdominal pain after eating due to heartburn
Heartburn or heartburn refers to the backflow of acidic stomach contents into the esophagus. This causes burning pain behind the breastbone or in the upper abdomen, as well as a burning feeling or sour taste in the back of the throat or mouth and you suffer from frequent burping.
Exercise encourages your colon to move / Source: Istock.com/michaeljung
Abdominal pain after meals due to constipation
With constipation, the stool remains in the large intestine for too long. This causes you to experience persistent, hard, painful or slow stools. A blockage lasting a few days is annoying, but not unusual or worrying. Constipation is a complaint that can have various causes, such as lack of exercise, drinking too little and/or not enough fiber in the diet. You can often prevent and remedy constipation by adjusting your lifestyle, i.e.:
- sufficient exercise;
- a high fiber diet; and
- sufficient fluid intake.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic intestinal disorder, the exact cause of which is not yet known. It is a common condition that causes abdominal pain and/or cramps, often in the lower abdomen or around the navel. You also suffer from bloating. The symptoms may decrease or worsen after eating or defecating.
Abdominal pain after eating due to pathogens
Cramping abdominal pain, which can be felt throughout the abdomen, with vomiting and diarrhea, often indicates food poisoning. Food poisoning is usually caused by toxins in the food, which are often produced by bacteria or fungi. Complaints such as abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting usually occur within 8 hours after infection.
With stomach flu you often suffer from abdominal pain with nausea and diarrhea. Stomach flu is often caused by viruses and bacteria. The majority of cases involve norovirus. Stomach flu is highly contagious. Good hygiene can prevent stomach flu infections.
Abdominal pain after eating due to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease / Source: Alila Medical Media/Shutterstock
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the upper reproductive organs, including the ovaries, uterus or fallopian tubes. This inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection, which is usually acquired through sexual intercourse (an STD). If your stomach or intestines become full after eating, it can put pressure on your inflamed organs, causing pain.
Stomach, gallbladder and pancreas
Gallstones usually form in the gallbladder, but little is known about their origin. Gallstones can be as small as grains of sand or as large as a golf ball. Gallstones can cause attacks of vague pain, nausea and a feeling of discomfort in the (right) upper abdomen, especially after eating fat, certain vegetables such as cabbage, and eggs or chocolate. So if you are suddenly attacked by intense pain after a high-fat meal, this may indicate gallstones.
The pancreas plays a role in digestion by producing digestive juices. Chronic pancreatitis is characterized by severe pain in the upper abdomen near the stomach, which can radiate to the back, sides and shoulders. Additional complaints include nausea and vomiting. The complaints often increase after a meal.
Abdominal pain after eating due to a stomach ulcer / Source: Alila Medical Media/Shutterstock.com
Severe stomach pain after eating can be a symptom of a stomach ulcer. The usual cause is Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that can live in the lining of the stomach wall. This tough guy can survive in the acidic environment of the stomach. Fortunately, it can be treated effectively with antibiotics. Consult your doctor if you feel a sharp pain in the stomach after eating.
Stomach cancer almost never causes pain in the early stages. At a later stage, one or more of the following complaints may arise:
- weight loss due to loss of appetite and an aversion to certain (often strong-smelling) foods;
- a painful feeling in the stomach area;
- nausea and a feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen;
- belching and belching of air;
- heartburn: a burning, pressing or cramping feeling behind the breastbone;
- food does not want to go down after meals;
- fatigue and dizziness (due to anemia due to blood loss);
- black stools due to blood loss.
Man with stomach pain at the doctor / Source: Wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock.com
What to do?
Medical attention is required if complaints persist or regularly recur or if there is severe abdominal pain or stomach pain after eating in combination with blood in the stool, vomiting, paleness or an acutely sensitive abdomen.
- Abdominal pain on the left or right and nagging or stabbing abdominal pain
- Abdominal pain in a child: causes of a painful abdomen in a child
- Abdominal pain in the lower abdomen: left/right, causes in men and women
- Acute severe abdominal pain: causes sudden extreme abdominal pain
- Swollen abdomen after eating and diarrhea/constipation: IBS