There is nothing worse than eating a great meal and then, half an hour later, wishing you hadn’t because nausea has seemingly taken over your world. But what is it that causes this nausea? Was it something that happened before dinner? Was it that one last shrimp that smelled a little funky or just a coincidence?
The bad news is there are tons of reasons why you may have felt nausea after eating. The good news is we are here to tell you what some of those reasons are, along with how you can treat that nausea and possibly even prevent it from happening.
Common Causes of Nausea after Eating
The problem with figuring out what gave you nausea after eating is that it can be almost anything. It could be entirely unrelated to the meal. This makes it really hard to diagnose and determine whether you should try to make yourself feel better or just wait it out. It may help knowing that there are a few very common causes of nausea after eating.
1. Food Poisoning
Your nausea could be caused by something as obvious as food poisoning. There are different types of poisoning—bacterial, viral and parasites—and these can be caused by raw food sitting around too long or something improperly refrigerated.
It could be a minor food allergy. The drawback is the source of the allergy could be anything in the meal you just ate. From the spices to a preservative in a condiment, it could be any one of a number of things that is causing your nausea.
Nausea after eating and pregnancy are unfortunately two things that go together very often. Nausea after eating with a pregnancy can often occur early in the pregnancy (often at the two-month mark) and usually happens due to the hormonal changes going on within the pregnant woman.
4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS can often trigger nausea after a meal.
5. Stomach Flu
Unfortunately, the thing causing nausea after you eat may be a stomach bug that is unrelated to the food you just ate but the meal has now aggravated the situation.
Stress and anxiety can definitely have physical effects on the body and that include nausea especially after eating.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes the stomach to create too much acid, a situation that can often cause stomach-based nausea, especially after food.
Keep in mind: these are the most common causes of nausea after eating anything. There could also be other causes such as treatment for a disease like cancer; in this case, the disease or the treatment could be causing nausea. Now that you know the main causes of nausea after eating, it’s time to investigate how you can treat it.
Treating Nausea after Eating
You’ve eaten a meal, and now, nausea has crept up on you. It’s threatening to ruin not only the enjoyment of that meal, but also the rest of your day. How can you treat it? As it so happens, there are a number of ways to try and curb nausea at home.
Ginger in numerous forms has been found to help stop nausea. A nice ginger tea or even a glass of ginger ale might be enough to help settle nausea in your stomach.
2. Don’t resist vomiting
If you’re nauseated after eating a meal, you may feel like you need to vomit. Don’t resist that urge. Go to a washroom, of course, but the reason your body wants to vomit is to expel the thing that is making it feel sick. Resisting just delays the inevitable, so just get it over with. You might be surprised at how good you feel after the fact.
3. Cool compress
Lie down with a cold cloth over your head or at the back of your neck. This may help take away nausea from the head area.
Much like ginger, peppermint has long been used to combat nausea. Drinking peppermint tea can help rid you of nausea as well as sucking on or chewing peppermint leaves.
5. BRAT diet
While this may not be too helpful immediately, it is a helpful tip if your stomach nausea continues for a period of time. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These bland foods are less likely to upset your stomach and may help settle it to a certain extent. Supplement with lots of fluids.
Every person is different, so do what works best for you. If one solution is effective, but another makes things worse, then stick with the one that works. But if nothing seems to work, then you may need to see a doctor.
Seeking Medical Help for Nausea after Eating
How long is too long for nausea after eating? At what point should you go see a doctor? There are a few things that you should keep in mind about nausea after eating that may signal you’re ready for a trip to the doctor’s office.
1. Nausea lasts more than three days
After the three day mark, it’s a good idea to get checked out by a doctor. It may be a virus that you just have to suck up and ride out, but it could also be something that needs investigating.
2. Symptoms get worse
If you go from feeling a just little sick the first day to a rapid descent into non-stop vomiting the next, it’s a good idea to seek medical help.
Dehydration can occur due to excessive vomiting and or diarrhea. The complications of dehydration can be rather bad, so it’s best to catch this early.
Now, if the person suffering from the nausea is a child, you may want to speed up the doctor’s visit as the complications can be much more harmful to children.
Preventing Nausea after Eating
When it’s all over, you will never want to feel this way again. Is there a way of preventing it? Depending on the cause of your nausea, the answer may be yes.
1. Change your diet
This is probably one of the easiest ways. If you are allergic to a food ingredient and it’s causing you nausea, don’t eat it. If you find that a specific type of food is causing problems, don’t eat that food.
Easier said than done, but if the issue is stress and anxiety, try to relax. The more relaxed and unstressed you are, the less likely a chance for nausea.
Nausea Is Not Fun
Nausea is not fun. Nausea after eating is even worse, and if you’re really unlucky, it may carry on for a while. That being said, there are a number of ways that you may be able to either prevent it from happening in the first place or tame it quickly when it starts. Just make sure to keep our advice, and if it continues for more than three days, go see a doctor.
Watson, S., “What Causes Nausea After Eating?” Healthline, September 9, 2016, http://www.healthline.com/health/nausea-after-eating?s_con_rec=true&r=01#Overview1, last accessed March 20, 2017.
“14 Soothing Remedies for Nausea & Morning Sickness,” Everyday Roots, http://everydayroots.com/nausea-remedies, last accessed March 20, 2017.