What’s Causing My Loss of Appetite and Nausea?

Loss of appetite and nausea can occur together when you’ve eaten something that doesn’t agree with your stomach. When this happens, symptoms typically subside quickly. But in some cases, loss of appetite and nausea can signal a more serious condition.

Causes involving infection and inflammation include:

  • appendicitis
  • West Nile virus infection (West Nile fever)
  • yellow fever
  • anthrax
  • hookworm infections
  • urethritis
  • peritonitis
  • typhus
  • erysipelas
  • swine flu
  • giardiasis
  • leishmaniasis
  • meningitis
  • acute pancreatitis
  • tonsillitis
  • Colorado tick fever
  • gastritis
  • hepatitis
  • infectious mononucleosis
  • chlamydia infection
  • E. coli infection
  • strep throat
  • bacterial gastroenteritis
  • cold and flu

Causes involving gastrointestinal factors include:

  • stomach acid reflux
  • intestinal blockages
  • stomach ulcers or small intestine ulcers
  • viral gastroenteritis
  • intestinal obstruction
  • stomach ulcer
  • gallstones
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • peptic ulcer

Causes involving cancer include:

  • cancer
  • Wilms’ tumor
  • pancreatic cancer
  • chemotherapy
  • stomach cancer (gastric adenocarcinoma)

Psychological factors can also contribute to headache and loss of appetite. These include:

  • grief
  • anxiety
  • stress

Additional health conditions that can cause loss of appetite and nausea include:

  • acetaminophen overdose
  • abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • poisoning due to black widow spider venom (black widow spider bites)
  • food poisoning
  • morning sickness
  • motion sickness or seasickness
  • food allergies or intolerances, such as celiac disease
  • migraine headaches
  • pain from a chronic or acute condition
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • heart failure
  • acute mountain sickness
  • brain aneurysm
  • end-stage kidney disease
  • low blood sodium (hyponatremia)
  • epidural hematoma
  • Addison’s disease
  • subdural hematoma
  • cirrhosis
  • Addisonian crisis (acute adrenal crisis)
  • chronic pancreatitis
  • ischemic cardiomyopathy
  • Reye’s syndrome
  • hyperparathyroidism
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • alcoholic ketoacidosis
  • hypercalcemia
  • alcoholic liver disease
  • biliary (bile duct) obstruction
  • testicular torsion
  • diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Meniere’s disease
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
  • gestational diabetes
  • alcoholism
  • hyperemesis gravidarum
  • pregnancy

Certain medications, such as some antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, can also cause loss of appetite and nausea.

Feeling nauseous can be super stressful. Once the feeling hits, you probably start tracing your food choices over the last few days or, if pregnancy is a possibility, you might be thinking about your last cycle. But if you know you’re not pregnant, and you didn’t eat anything funky, you might find yourself asking, “Why do I feel nauseous?”

Turns out, plenty of other things can make your stomach churn that have nothing to do with babies or bad food. Here are six unexpected things that might result in feeling nauseous—plus what you can do to make it go away stat.

1. You’re feeling stressed or anxious.

Even though stress is an emotion, it causes a cascade of physical changes in your body. Including in your gut, which is highly sensitive to negative feelings, explains Randy Wexler, M.D., an internist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Your gut is lined with nerves that work to expand and contract to push food through your digestive tract. But when you’re stressed or anxious, your brain sends signals to those nerves that cause additional contractions. All those contractions mess up your gut’s normal rhythm, which can leave you feeling nauseous. And you don’t have to be majorly upset to feel the effects. Even minor stress can leave you feeling nauseous, Dr. Wexler says.

Pausing to take a few deep breaths can help you feel calmer, which could help ease your nausea. Another option: Sip a cup of ginger tea or chew on a piece of candied ginger, says Kristine Arthur, M.D., an internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. The spicy root has properties that are thought to ease nausea.

2. You might be hungry.

When you’ve gone several hours without eating, your blood sugar can get too low. (Especially if the last thing you ate was mostly carbs, like a plain bagel or cookies.) That can leave you dizzy and nauseous like you’re going to pass out, says Dr. Arthur.

The fix? Eat something that’s high in carbs—like a glass of fruit juice, a piece of fresh or dried fruit, or bread. “Candy will also work if healthier options aren’t available,” Dr. Arthur says. Getting sugar into your system will bring your blood sugar back up to normal, so you start to feel better. (Steer clear of foods that are high in fat or protein. They won’t raise your blood sugar and can actually slow the absorption of carbs.)

3. You might need to drink some water.

Feeling nauseous might just be your unsettled stomach telling you to swig more H20. And we’re not talking about day-in-the-desert-without water dehydrated. For some people, even mild dehydration could mess with your stomach, Dr. Wexler says.

You’ll probably know if your nausea is caused from dehydration if you also feel, well, really thirsty. So if that’s the case, drink up. Usually, plain water is fine, says Dr. Wexler. But if you have signs of severe dehydration—like fatigue, dizziness, or confusion—seek medical attention right away.

4. It might be your medications.

Plenty of medications—even supplements and over-the-counter meds—can leave you feeling nauseous. Sometimes, popping an over-the-counter pain reliever (like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or an NSAID) on an empty stomach can actually cause you to feel nauseous. Without some food in your belly to act as a buffer, the components of some pills can be irritating to the lining of the stomach, Dr. Wexler says. Supplements like vitamins C, E, and iron can have a similar effect.

Feeling the effects of starvation

For a couple of months now I have been severely restricting my caloric intake to a very small amount calories per day. I eat very little, and only eat a few particular foods. Even still I eat in very small portions, and quite infrequently. I am a fairly young female. I began restricting calories in an effort to lose weight, which has worked. I have lost a significant amount of weight so far and I continue to lose weight now. However, in doing so, I realize that I have compromised my health- something that I once took great care to uphold. I was also exercising, by now find that I hardly have the energy to function in my classes, and I nap as soon as I get home because my body feels completely empty. When I eat anything other than what my body has become accustomed to over the past couple of months, I become terribly nauseous to the point where I feel that I must lie down. This is also sometimes accompanied by vomiting. I have been vomiting much more frequently over the past few days and fear that this is a very bad sign. I now find that I sometimes can not even eat the few foods I have allowed into my highly restrictive diet, for I vomit them back up almost immediately as well. Every single night I am reduced to bed rest because I either do not have the energy to function through my everyday chores and activities, or I am so nauseous that I don’t find it wise to move from a lying position. Just tonight I ate a tiny bit of my little sisters dinner and violently vomited within the half hour. When I took a antacid tablet I immediately vomited again, and then once again an hour later I threw up almost immediately upon lying on my stomach and it was nothing but water and stomach acid. It seems that the less I eat, the more my body rejects the food I do eat, and I am beginning to realize just how inconvenient and unpleasant the effects of starvation are. However I fear that my body will not be able to bounce back from this, as every time I eat I now feel nauseous. I also still fear that I will put on weight. Frankly, I am still not be size I wish I was, though I am complimented on my newly trim physique quite often. I still don’t feel that I am as small as I would like to be, and- no matter how bittersweet- it is difficult for me to convince myself that it’s not worth it to continue with these unhealthy eating habits, as it has obviously worked in trimming me down. I do realize that being thin and being healthy are not always synonymous, and especially so is my situation. But I don’t know what to do to end this viscous cycle while stil coming to a conclusion that suits my wishes. I am TERRIFIED of putting weight back on and I don’t want this period of starvation to have been in vain, as I have put my body through hell in the process. Even still, weight loss is the most important thing to me. I have come here for help in living a normal life and embracing normal, healthy eating habits. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t need the help.

Why do I feel sick after I eat?

For many different reasons, the food that a person chooses to eat may lead to their stomach hurting afterward.

1. Food poisoning

Share on PinterestStomach pain is a common symptom of food poisoning.

One of the key symptoms of food poisoning is stomach pain. Other symptoms include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • lack of energy
  • high temperature

Symptoms can appear a few hours after eating, but they may take days or weeks to surface.

Food poisoning normally only lasts a few days. It can usually be treated at home with rest and fluids.

2. Acidic foods

Acidic foods that can irritate the stomach include fruit juices, processed cheese, and tomatoes.

Finding alternatives, such as replacing fruit juices with water or tea, may help to cut down on stomach pain.

3. Trapped wind

Trapped wind in the digestive tract can cause discomfort. The stomach may feel stretched and uncomfortable, or there may be a sharp pain.

Sugary drinks and certain foods can cause bloating and wind. These include:

  • onions
  • beans
  • cabbage
  • broccoli

When someone chews gum, sucks sweets, or eats with their mouth open, it can lead to them swallowing air. This can be another cause of wind.

4. Spicy foods

Chili peppers are often used to flavor spicy food. They contain capsaicin, a chemical that causes the hot or burning sensation. Capsaicin may irritate sensitive parts of the body, including the stomach.

5. Indigestion

A person can suffer indigestion after eating or drinking. As well as stomach ache, they may feel bloated or sick.

The stomach contains acid to break down food. Sometimes, this can irritate the stomach lining and cause indigestion.

Rich or fatty foods, caffeine, sugary drinks, and alcohol can make indigestion worse.

Over-the-counter medication, which is available online and known as an antacid, may help if cutting out certain foods and drinks makes no difference.

6. Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant found in tea and coffee. It can irritate the stomach and cause discomfort for some people.

People can choose alternatives and still enjoy hot drinks. Decaffeinated tea and decaffeinated coffee are available online. Fruit teas or hot water with a slice of lemon are also healthful to help people stay hydrated during the day.

7. Alcohol

Alcoholic drinks can cause bloating. This is especially true if they are carbonated, such as beer or sparkling wine. They may also make heartburn worse.

If someone cuts down on the amount of alcohol they drink, it can have many health benefits. Drinking a soft drink or water between alcoholic ones or choosing alcohol-free wine or beer are ways to reduce alcohol consumption.

8. Food allergy or intolerance

Share on PinterestFood allergies may cause stomach pain.

Some people may be allergic to certain foods. These can irritate the stomach and may cause pain after eating.

An intolerance is a milder form of an allergy. Both allergies and intolerances can be caused by many different foods.

Common intolerances include gluten, wheat, and lactose.

People can keep a food diary if they think they might have an allergy.

A food diary is a written record of what they have consumed at each meal, including drinks and snacks. They should also include a note of when their stomach hurts.

Keeping a diary can help determine the foods causing an issue. People can then cut this food out of their diet.

9. Eating too much

Overfilling the stomach on a regular basis is not good for health. Discomfort after eating may be a sign that a person is eating too much.

People can find guidance on healthy portion sizes from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The Basics of Gastroparesis

If you find yourself feeling extremely full after eating only a small amount of food, or feeling nauseated and throwing up after eating, don’t brush it off as indigestion or lack of appetite. These could be warning signs of a digestive condition called gastroparesis. While difficult to treat, a special gastroparesis diet can help to control symptoms.

Gastroparesis: What Is It?

Gastroparesis is a disorder in which the stomach empties extremely slowly — a meal that can be digested in about four hours in a healthy person may take days to empty out of the stomach of someone with gastroparesis, says Francisco J. Marrero, MD, a gastroenterologist with the Digestive Disease Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Gastroparesis results when the vagus nerve, which contracts the stomach to squeeze food further down the digestive tract, becomes damaged in some way.

Gastroparesis is an extremely rare condition, affecting only about 10 out of every 100,000 people, according to Dr. Marrero. The condition can be caused by:

  • Infection
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Radiation treatment
  • Diabetes

Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia may cause gastroparesis, but digestive function will typically return to normal once food intake returns to normal. Medication may cause similar symptoms, but they are usually only temporary.

Diabetes is one particularly big risk factor for this digestive condition. Long-term diabetes causes abnormalities in the nervous system, which can manifest as numbness and tingling in the fingertips or affect the nervous system in your bowels, says Marrero. High blood glucose, a problem with diabetics, can eventually weaken the vagus nerve.

Gastroparesis: Common Symptoms and Treatment

Beyond feeling full too fast and nausea and vomiting after eating, there are a few more symptoms to be aware of. More signs of gastroparesis include:

  • Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fluctuating levels of blood glucose
  • Pain in the top of the abdomen

Not only is gastroparesis difficult to treat and manage, it can’t be cured. But some treatments can help reduce symptoms and discomfort. Treatment options include:

  • Medication. Several types of medication can help the stomach to empty food a little faster. These include the antibiotic erythromycin and the gastrointestinal stimulant metoclopramide (Reglan, Maxolon). However, according to Marrero, people quickly become intolerant of the antibiotic, and metoclopramide can have serious side effects. He says doctors are now giving people anti-nausea medication.
  • Changing your diet. Diet is one of the more effective ways to manage gastroparesis. Eating smaller, more frequent meals instead of a few large ones can help to alleviate symptoms of gastroparesis. People with serious symptoms may switch to an all-liquid or pureed diet since this may be easier to handle than solid foods. Skipping foods high in fat and fiber is also important in a gastroparesis diet.
  • Tube feeding. Patients with severe cases may need to have a tube placed in their small bowel so they can keep down sustenance, notes Marrero. This tube, called a jejunostomy, bypasses the slow-emptying stomach and delivers nutrients directly to the small bowel to offer better nutritional value and fewer symptoms.
  • Gastric electric stimulator. This small device is implanted via surgery and emits small pulses of electricity to reduce nausea and vomiting. However, Marrero says these devices are extremely expensive and may not reduce gastroparesis symptoms for everyone.

Gastroparesis is a tough condition to manage and can make eating difficult and uncomfortable. Not every treatment will work for everyone, but there are a variety of methods to try to manage gastroparesis. The type of treatment your doctor will recommend will be based on how severe the symptoms are, and how much pain and discomfort your gastroparesis causes.

Food Poisoning

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What Is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is caused by

and, sometimes, viruses or other germs. They can get into the food we eat or the liquids we drink. We can’t taste, smell, or see these germs (at least not without a microscope). But even though they’re tiny, they can have a powerful effect on the body.

When germs that cause food poisoning get into our systems, they can release toxins. These toxins are poisons (the reason for the name “food poisoning”), and can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Usually, doctors use “food poisoning” to describe an illness that comes on quickly after eating contaminated food. People often get diarrhea or start throwing up within a few hours after being infected. The good news is, food poisoning usually goes away quickly too. Most people recover in a couple of days with no lasting problems.

In a few cases, severe food poisoning can mean a visit to the doctor or hospital. When people need medical treatment for food poisoning, it’s often because of dehydration. Getting dehydrated is the most common serious complication of food poisoning.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Food Poisoning?

How food poisoning shows up depends on the germ that caused it. Sometimes a person will start to feel sick within an hour or two of eating or drinking contaminated food or liquid. Other times, symptoms may not appear for a number of weeks. In most cases, symptoms will clear up within 1 to 10 days.

Most of the time, someone with food poisoning will notice:

  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • belly pain and cramps
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • headache and overall weakness

In rare cases, food poisoning can make someone feel dizzy, have blurry vision, or notice tingling in the arms. In very rare cases, the weakness that sometimes goes along with food poisoning will cause trouble breathing.

What Causes Food Poisoning?

When people eat or drink something that’s contaminated with germs, they can get sick with food poisoning. Often, people get food poisoning from animal-based foods — like meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and seafood. But unwashed fruits, vegetables, and other raw foods also can be contaminated and make people sick. Even water can cause food poisoning.

Foods and liquids can be contaminated at lots of different points during food preparation, storage, and handling. For example:

  • Water that is used to grow food can become infected with animal or human feces (poop).
  • Meat or poultry may come into contact with germs during processing or shipping.
  • Bacteria can infect foods stored at the wrong temperature or kept too long.
  • Cooks or other food handlers can contaminate foods if they don’t wash their hands or they use unclean utensils or cutting boards.

People with health conditions (like chronic kidney disease) or weakened immune systems are more at risk of getting ill from food poisoning than people who are in good health.

Which Germs Are to Blame?

Germs that often cause food poisoning include:

Salmonella. Salmonella bacteria are the leading cause of food poisoning in the United States. These bacteria usually get into foods when they come into contact with animal feces. The main causes of salmonella poisoning are eating dairy products, undercooked meat, and fresh produce that hasn’t been washed well.

E. coli (Escherichia coli). E. coli bacteria typically get into food or water when they come into contact with animal feces. Eating undercooked ground beef is the most common reason why people in the United States get E. coli poisoning.

Listeria. These bacteria are mostly found in unpasteurized dairy products, smoked seafood, and processed meats like hot dogs and luncheon meats. Listeria bacteria also can contaminate fruits and vegetables, although that’s less common.

Campylobacter. These bacteria most commonly infect meat, poultry, and unpasteurized milk. Campylobacter also can contaminate water. As with other kinds of bacteria, these usually get into foods through contact with infected animal feces.

Staphylococcus aureus. These bacteria can be found in meats, prepared salads, and foods made with contaminated dairy products. S aureus bacteria can spread through hand contact, sneezing, or coughing. That means that people who prepare or handle food can spread the infection.

Shigella. Shigella bacteria can infect seafood or raw fruits and vegetables. Most of the time the bacteria are spread when people who prepare or handle food don’t wash their hands properly after using the bathroom.

Hepatitis A. People mostly get this virus from eating raw shellfish or foods that were handled by someone who is infected. It can be hard to know the source of an infection because people may not get sick for 15 to 50 days afterward.

Noroviruses. These viruses usually contaminate food that’s been prepared by an infected handler.

Some of these, including Listeria and E. coli, can cause potentially dangerous heart, kidney, and bleeding problems.

When Should I Call a Doctor?

Most cases of food poisoning don’t need medical attention, but some do. The most common serious problem from food poisoning is dehydration. If you’re healthy, you’re not likely to get dehydrated as long as you drink enough liquids to replace what you’ve lost through throwing up or diarrhea.

Call a doctor if you have any of these problems:

  • vomiting that goes on for more than 12 hours
  • diarrhea with a fever higher than 101°F (38.3°C)
  • severe belly pain that doesn’t go away after a bowel movement
  • bloody feces (diarrhea or regular poop) or bloody vomit
  • bowel movements that are black or maroon
  • a racing or pounding heart

You’ll also want to let your mom or dad know if you start having signs of dehydration. These include:

  • extreme thirst
  • making little or no pee
  • dizziness
  • sunken eyes
  • lightheadedness or weakness

If you’ve recently been to a foreign country and start having diarrhea or other stomach problems, it’s also a good idea to call your doctor.

Food poisoning (especially dehydration) can be more serious for people with weakened immune systems or health conditions. If you have a health condition like kidney problems or sickle cell disease, call your doctor as soon as you notice signs of food poisoning. Pregnant women should also let their doctors know if they get food poisoning as some germs can affect the unborn child.

How Is Food Poisoning Diagnosed?

A doctor will ask about what you have eaten recently, how long you’ve been sick, and what kinds of problems you’re having. The doctor will also examine you.

In some cases, doctors may take a sample of your blood, stool, or pee and send it to a lab for analysis. This will help the doctor find out which microorganism is causing the illness.

How Is Food Poisoning Treated?

Most of the time, food poisoning runs its course and people get better on their own. Occasionally, though, doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat more severe types of bacterial food poisoning. Someone with severe dehydration may be treated in a hospital with

(IV) fluids.

Taking Care of Yourself at Home

Food poisoning usually goes away on its own in a few days. You can do a few things to take care of yourself:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink liquids to protect against dehydration. Electrolyte solutions work, but anything except milk or caffeinated beverages will do.
  • Take small, frequent sips to make it easier to keep the fluids down.
  • Avoid solid foods and dairy products until any diarrhea has stopped.
  • Avoid over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medicines. They can make the symptoms of food poisoning last longer.
  • When diarrhea and vomiting have stopped, eat small, bland, low-fat meals for a few days so you won’t further upset your stomach.
  • If your symptoms become serious or you start noticing signs of dehydration, contact your doctor.

How Can I Prevent Food Poisoning?

To reduce your risk of food poisoning, follow these tips:

  • Wash your hands well and often, especially after using the bathroom, before touching food, and after touching raw food. Use soap and warm water and scrub for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean all utensils, cutting boards, and surfaces that you use to prepare food with hot, soapy water.
  • Don’t drink unpasteurized milk or eat food that contains unpasteurized milk.
  • Wash all raw vegetables and fruits that you can’t peel yourself.
  • Keep raw foods (especially meat, poultry, and seafood) away from other foods until they’re cooked.
  • Use perishable food or any food with an expiration date as soon as possible.
  • Cook all food from animal sources to a safe internal temperature. For ground beef and pork, this means at least 160°F (71°C). For solid cuts of meat, the safe temperature is 145°F. For chicken and turkey (ground and whole), it’s at least 165°F (74°C). Cook chicken eggs until the yolk is firm. Fish generally is safe to eat once it reaches a temperature of 145°F (63°C).
  • Refrigerate leftovers quickly, preferably in containers with lids that snap tightly shut.
  • Defrost foods in the refrigerator, a microwave, or cold water. Food should never be thawed at room temperature.
  • If food is past its expiration date, tastes funny, or smells strange, don’t eat it. Remember: “When in doubt, throw it out.”
  • If you’re pregnant, avoid all raw or undercooked meat or seafood, smoked seafood, raw eggs and products that might contain raw eggs, soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk and juice, patés, prepared salads, luncheon meats, and hot dogs.
  • Don’t drink water from streams or untreated wells.

Reviewed by: Ryan J. Brogan, DO Date reviewed: July 2018

What to know about nausea after eating

Causes of how nausea develops after eating include:


Hormonal changes often occur during pregnancy, which induce feelings of nausea at any time of day, frequently in the morning.

Some pregnant women will experience nausea before eating a meal. Others will feel nauseated immediately after eating. Sometimes this continues throughout the day.

Feelings of nausea will typically start during the second month of pregnancy. Nausea during pregnancy is not harmful to either the baby or mother and will usually resolve by the fourth month of pregnancy.

Elevated hormone levels in pregnancy can cause changes to the digestive system and the body, which means food spends longer in the stomach and small intestine. It is possible that this may also contribute to nausea after eating in pregnancy.

The hormones of pregnancy can relax the connection between the esophagus and stomach, causing an increase in acid reflux, which can contribute to nausea. A heightened sense of smell during pregnancy can also make nausea worse.


Food can become contaminated through not being cooked thoroughly or stored incorrectly. Consuming contaminated food can cause food poisoning.

Bacteria (or in some cases, viruses) are usually the cause of contamination. Either can induce feelings of nausea within hours of eating.

Viral infections of the digestive tract, such as “stomach flu,” can also cause nausea after eating.

People can get these viruses from:

  • close contact with another person infected with the virus
  • eating contaminated food and drinking water

These viruses are highly contagious and cause inflammation to the stomach and intestines. They can lead to:

  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain and cramps

Food intolerances or allergies

Some people have an intolerance to certain foods, which means that the body has difficulty digesting them.

Share on PinterestSome food intolerances can cause a person to feel nauseated after eating.

Food intolerances do not involve the immune system but can cause nausea hours after the food is eaten. Common sources of food intolerances include:

  • foods that contain lactose, such as dairy products
  • gluten, such as most grains
  • foods that cause intestinal gas, such as beans or cabbage

Food allergies occur when the body mistakenly identifies proteins found in certain foods to be a threat, triggering an immune system response.

Nausea caused by a food allergy can occur seconds or minutes after eating. It is often accompanied by a host of other symptoms, such as swelling to the face or lip and difficulties breathing or swallowing. These types of reactions are emergencies and require immediate medical attention.

Gastrointestinal problems

Nausea after eating and other gastrointestinal problems may occur when an organ within the digestive system stops functioning properly.

For example, gastroesophageal disease (GERD) occurs when the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach malfunctions, causing stomach acid to enter the esophagus.

GERD causes a burning sensation throughout the esophagus known as heartburn and may be a cause of nausea after eating.

The gallbladder is responsible for releasing bile to aid in digesting fats. Gallbladder diseases impair the proper digestion of fats and can cause nausea after eating meals high in fat.

The pancreas releases proteins and hormones necessary for digestion. If this organ becomes inflamed or injured, known as pancreatitis, nausea often occurs along with other intestinal symptoms and pain.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that can cause bloating and increased gas. In some people, this can also lead to nausea after eating.


Nausea after eating could also be a sign of arteries in the intestines narrowing. This narrowing of blood vessels restricts blood flow. Nausea after eating can be accompanied by intense stomach pains and may indicate a condition known as chronic mesenteric ischemia. This condition can suddenly worsen and become life-threatening.

Headache syndromes

Migraines can also cause nausea after eating, which can be accompanied by intense stomach pain, vomiting, and dizziness.


In some cases, nausea after eating can be a warning sign of a heart attack.

Psychiatric or psychological

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the most common eating disorders characterized by abnormal eating habits.

Anorexia nervosa can cause nausea due to excess stomach acid or starvation. Bulimia nervosa can cause nausea after eating from a compulsion to vomit any food consumed.

Anxiety, depression, or intense stress can also result in a loss of appetite and nausea after eating.

Motion sickness

Some people are highly sensitive to particular movements or motion, which can make them feel nauseated. Eating food before or after experiencing motion can intensify nausea in individuals with motion sickness.


Nausea is a common side effect of several medications including antibiotics, pain relief drugs, or chemotherapy drugs. Nausea should subside once the treatment is completed or stopped.

Problems with Eating and Nausea

“I’m worried that my child is not interested in eating. What can I do to help his appetite and frequent nausea?”

Food is often the daily “centering” activity of our lives as children and adults. It serves many functions for many busy families. We gather over it, talk about it, spend time shopping and cooking, and gain comfort and satisfaction from it. For parents, preparing meals is symbolic of how we care for our family, giving a small but ordinary act of love each day.

When a child has a serious illness, his ability to eat, digest, enjoy, and tolerate food often changes dramatically. Eating and getting proper nutrition is likely to become more frustrating with changes in his condition. Food may no longer be appealing at times or even make him feel uncomfortable. It may be challenging to get your child to eat well while he is adjusting to medication changes, treatments, testing, etc. Your child may generally feel “lousy” and his worries can also affect his appetite. Along with concerns about his illness and how he feels, he may feel anxious about his future. It is no wonder that he is not eating well!

Changes in appetite and eating may not be as bothersome to your child as it is to you. We place a great deal of importance on food and on eating together. If you are worried about whether the disease has progressed or not improving as you hoped, you may start to place increased value on your child’s food intake. We usually associate eating with feeling better, with normalcy, and with our ability to do something for someone we care about.

You may want to consider an initial or follow-up consultation with a nutritionist or dietician. Try incorporating your child’s input about preferences with the consultant’s advice about reasonable improvements that will maintain your child’s strength. You’ll find that there are creative ways to enhance food to get more nutrients from smaller amounts of food.

If food is now making your child feel nauseated, it is important to evaluate his daily intake by using a food diary and consulting with a nutritionist/dietician or your health care team. There may be simple changes that can improve or relieve the nausea. Nausea could also be a result of a side effect of a medication, the disease process, an internal physical change that affects how he eats, or a combination of several things. Once again, try to note any patterns, medications, or specific foods that trigger the nausea and what relieves it. Your child may also be able to offer clues that may elucidate the origins of the nausea. Sharing this information with your health care team will help you work out potential solutions, such as a medication to help relieve the nausea.

Vomiting can also affect your child’s eating and can quickly lead to dehydration, or not enough fluids in his system. Dehydration can cause complications, but there are ways to ensure that your child is sufficiently hydrated. Try offering him small sips of a drink, ice chips, popsicles, or hard candy. Ask your physician how to identify if your child is dehydrated and at what point you should call the health care team to get help. Your medical team may want to order new or different supplements, vitamins, medications, or even IV fluids to ensure optimal intake, especially if there is a significant eating concern.

Some conditions which originate at birth may include eating problems such as difficulty swallowing, gagging, choking on normal amounts of fluid, etc. Some babies nurse or bottle feed easily or with trouble, depending on the underlying condition. Smaller, slower feedings are often easier on your child and less likely to cause problems, but require time and patience. (This might be a good way for friends or family to help out.) Many parents feel some comfort if they are able to offer breast milk to their babies. You can ask your social worker or nurse about breast pumping, especially if your baby is in the hospital.

Some general considerations might be:

  • Try offering smaller, but more frequent meals.
  • Bring snack size portions when you leave the house. Keep a small cooler or lunchbox in your car with water, juice packages, nutritional snacks, and microwaveable things that your child likes to eat.
  • Prepare or buy “lunches to go” for clinic days, long treatments, or days with lots of driving.
  • (Don’t forget that it is important for you to make time for meals and snacks too!)
  • During this phase there may be dietary or nutritional consultation available to provide guidance about ways to add or delete certain foods and make suggestions about how to provide the nutritional needs that your child’s condition and activities demand.
  • Ask if any of your child’s medications might be affecting his appetite, changes in taste, or causing nausea. It is important to know if the medicine(s) might be affecting his taste or hunger sensations, and some medications could even cause him to feel sick to his stomach. Sometimes even the disease process or treatments can affect how things taste.
  • Sometimes a physician might prescribe an anti-nausea medication to help reduce the symptoms and bring relief. Sometimes it takes more than one try for medications to start to help. Always try something new more than once.
  • In general, meals may need to be planned with more flexibility to accommodate when your child feels hungry or less queasy. If in the hospital, ask the nurse if she can hold your child’s meal for a while if your child isn’t feeling well and then reheat it when timing is better.
  • Being in the hospital for long periods of time can be discouraging. Ask the health care team if you can bring in your child’s favorite meals or make something at the hospital for him even if he only eats a small portion. Tastes can be a real source of pleasure for your child.
  • Finding time to make meals can now be very difficult. When friends ask what they can do to help, let them prepare dinners for your family. This is an excellent way that your friends can help while you focus on your child’s treatments and tests. Let them know of any special food needs or restrictions they must follow.
  • Try to be patient, supportive, and flexible during these trying times

If your child’s eating difficulties are anatomical, i.e., your child does not have the ability to eat normally, you and your doctor may need to consider a feeding tube or intravenous therapy. You may also need to consider a feeding tube if your child’s eating problems are considered chronic or long term. There are two types of feeding tubes. A temporary feeding tube can be placed through the nose without surgery. A more long-term option would be a feeding tube that is surgically placed in the abdomen.

Definitions of terms or options that you might hear about:

NG Tube or nasogastric tube: A tube used on a temporary basis that gives liquids and medication. It is placed without surgery, and enters through the nostril, and then goes down the throat into the stomach. Once it is placed, the tube is relatively comfortable but care of the nose and skin from using tape is required.

G Tube or gastrostomy tube: This tube is surgically placed directly through the abdomen into the stomach. It requires daily care and attention to the surrounding skin. The G tube is used for long-term control over nutritional intake as well as to ensure that medications can be tolerated.

TPN or total parenteral nutrition: This serum is a combination of minerals, vitamins, and nutritional ingredients that offers complete nutrition through an IV. TPN may be used when maintaining the proper balance of all aspects of nutrition and blood levels is paramount.

What Causes Nausea After Eating?

There are many conditions that can make you nauseated after eating.

Food allergies

Certain foods, like shellfish, nuts, or eggs, can fool your immune system into identifying them as harmful foreign invaders. When you eat one of these trigger foods, your immune system launches a series of events that leads to the release of histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals produce allergy symptoms, which can range from hives and mouth swelling, to nausea.

Food poisoning

Food that sits around for too long or isn’t properly refrigerated attracts bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can make you sick. Food poisoning symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, typically start within a few hours after you’ve eaten contaminated food.

Read more: Is it a stomach bug or food poisoning? “

Stomach virus

This common bug, which is sometimes nicknamed the “stomach flu,” infects the intestines and triggers gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. You can catch a stomach virus by getting too close to someone who’s sick, or by eating food or drinking water that’s been contaminated with the virus.


One of the earliest signs that you’re pregnant is an uneasy, queasy feeling, which often starts during the second month of your pregnancy. Changing hormone levels trigger pregnancy nausea.

Though it’s officially termed “morning sickness,” nausea can strike at any time of day, including mealtimes. Sometimes the smell or taste of certain foods is enough to make your stomach roll. The feeling is temporary, and it won’t harm you or your baby.

Acid reflux

A burning feeling behind your breastbone, known as heartburn, is the hallmark symptom of gastroesophageal disease (GERD), but this condition can cause nausea, too. GERD happens when the muscular valve between your esophagus and stomach malfunctions, allowing stomach acid to leak up into your esophagus.

Anxiety and stress

Stress doesn’t only take a toll on your emotions. It affects your physical health, too. A difficult breakup or job loss can make you lose your appetite, or feel sick after you eat. The nausea should let up once you get your stress under control.

Cancer treatment

Some chemotherapy drugs cause nausea as a side effect. The nausea should go away after you’ve finished the treatment.

Gallbladder disease

Your gallbladder is an organ that sits in the upper right side of your abdomen. It helps your body digest fats. Gallstones and other gallbladder diseases can affect your ability to digest fats. As a result, you’ll feel sick to your stomach, especially after you eat a rich, fatty meal.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a collection of GI symptoms, which can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. Nausea is one of the most common complaints in people with IBS.

Some people are especially sensitive to movement. If you’re among them, the motion of a moving vehicle will make you feel sick. Eating before or after your ride can make the nausea even worse.

Reasons why you may feel sick after eating – and what to do about it

Experiencing discomfort or pain after eating is not uncommon and can there can be several things that may trigger the feeling – the problem is pinpointing what that trigger is, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always medical.

In fact, it can often come down to the types of foods you’re eating and how our body is responding to them, experts say.

READ MORE: Signs you’re not getting enough calcium, vitamin A or vitamin D – and why it matters

“If you are experiencing stomach pain or changes in bowel movements, take action to discover the underlying cause,” registered dietitian Andrea D’Ambrosio of Dietetic Directions says. “This can be a challenge when major underlying medical reasons are ruled out.”

So what could be some causes of your upset stomach?

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D’Ambrosio and fellow registered dietitian Andy De Santis reveal some possible reasons.

Reasons your stomach may be upset

Bloating and/or constipation

According to De Santis, a high fat, low fibre meal, or many of those types of meals in a row – like burgers or pizza – will move through your system slowly and could cause constipation.

Nervous tummy

Some may feel uncomfortable with eating certain foods, D’Ambrosio says. Or, emotional triggers may disrupt how your stomach feels.

5:50 Link between carbohydrates and irritable bowel syndrome Previous Video

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD)

Also referred to as acid reflux, certain triggers like spicy food, caffeine and alcohol, may make symptoms worse, De Santis says.

Food poisoning

Food poisoning is usually caused by a bacteria commonly found in raw or undercooked animal products like meat and eggs, De Santis explains. It could spread from these foods to other items due to poor food handling and safety practices.

Food allergies

“A severe, life-threatening response that involves your immune system may lead to rash, swelling and trouble breathing, but also could have digestive symptoms,” De Santis says. “Common allergen foods include eggs, soy, wheat, dairy, nuts, shellfish, etc.”

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Food intolerance

“A food intolerance occurs when your body, for whatever reason, struggles to properly digest a component of a food,” De Santis explains. “Lactose intolerance – an inability to breakdown the sugar lactose in dairy – is the most common example.”

How to fix your upset stomach

“Digestive health issues can be extraordinarly complex and may often require further guidance from a medical professional in complex cases,” De Santis says.

In less severe cases, however, consider trying a food diary to help identify the foods that may be more likely to cause you pain, he adds.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet while avoiding trigger or trouble foods is also ideal and should be your first defense.

When the problem is medical

At other times, however, your sore stomach may be due to an underlying medical condition, D’Ambrosio and De Santis say. For example, gallstones, pancreatitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease.

With IBS in particular, D’Ambrosio says the Low FODMAP diet is often a solution dietitians suggest.

READ MORE: 8 types of food to avoid if you have irritable bowel syndrome

“The term FODMAP describes a collection of short-chain sugars that are poorly digested in the gut,” D’Ambrosio explains. “For people with IBS, poorly digested sugars can trigger symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating and changes in bowel movements when they are broken down or fermented by colon bacteria. FODMAPs cause the bowel to distend by drawing more fluid and generating more gas by gut bacteria fermentation.”

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The main point of the diet is to replace sugars that are high is FODMAPs with sugars that are low in FODMAPs, which are easily broken down by the stomach. They also relieve digestive distress and decrease the fermentation of sugars in the colon, which often trigger symptoms, D’Ambrosio adds.

If you suspect that may be the case, both dietitians recommend consulting a family physician and/or registered dietitian.

“If you are living with chronic unmanageable abdominal pain or symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation, it makes sense to seek help right away,” De Santis advises.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

5 common causes of nausea after eating

What is the nausea?

Nausea is simply the unpleasant feeling that you may potentially vomit. Vomiting, on the other hand, is an automatic response that terminates with the forceful expulsion of gastric contents. Nausea usually has a protective effect as it prevents you from ingesting harmful substances, and similarly, if you ingest something unpleasant the body’s response is to expel it.

How it occurs?

The so-called “mechanism of action” (i.e. how it happens) varies on what is causing the nausea. The list of conditions that lead to nausea is extensive, and this is also true of postprandial nausea. Below is a “Coles note” list of five common causes of nausea after eating.

What are the causes of nausea after eating?

  1. Infection: Many of us have been here, and it is very unpleasant! Food poisoning is usually the culprit, but viral gastroenteritis is also a common factor. If the nausea is sudden, followed by vomiting, especially within a couple hours after eating, chances are it’s food poisoning. Many different microbes can lead to food poisoning by means of toxins they produce. As unpleasant as this may be, the condition is self-limiting, but it is very important that you hydrate yourself. Monitor your symptoms and do not hesitate to seek immediate medical attention.
  2. Pregnancy: This one only applies to less than half of the population, but any sexually active woman of childbearing should take pregnancy into consideration. If you are on the pill, or other contraceptive methods it is important to go in for a regular check-up with your primary health care provider or gynaecologist.
  3. Dyspepsia: This is a fancy word for indigestion. Dyspepsia could be functional (meaning that something isn’t working properly, presumably issues with “motility” or how food travels down the digestive tract); or it could be due to other digestive problems (e.g. gallstones or inflammation of the pancreas). Dyspepsia can be acute, but some people endure this for months and years (chronic), which is not without a cascade of complications like a decrease in the quality of life.
  4. Medication/substance: Most medications can cause nausea and vomiting. At the forefront of these are chemotherapeutic agents, but illicit drugs and even alcohol can lead to nausea—after all, the body recognize them only as toxins.
  5. Anxiety: We can couple anxiety with other psychiatric disorders (e.g. anorexia, bulimia, depression, etc.). While these are not directly involved in the digestion of food, the digestive system is highly sensitive to our psychological and emotional state. During times of stress the body prioritizes its “fight or flight” response at the expense of digestive processes. After all, the body doesn’t know what’s causing the stress—it will always assume that you’re being chased by a tiger, and if that’s the case, a belly full of food would only weigh you down.

This is not an exhaustive list, and many other conditions (e.g. allergic reaction, neurological and metabolic conditions) can lead to nausea. Always check in person with a qualified health care professional in order to get down to the root cause of the nausea.

What can be done?

First thing is first, go in for a chat with your family physician, nurse practitioner, or licensed naturopathic doctor. If the symptoms are sudden, chances are it’s food poisoning (usually last 24-48 hour), so monitoring fluid intake is important, but this should not undermine the importance of a proper medical checkup. Other more serious conditions can be the underlying reason for your nausea. Your healthcare provider will walk you through the necessary steps.

For those of you that have been given “medical clearance”, and suffer from postprandial nausea due to long-standing indigestion (e.g. functional dyspepsia), you may consider adding a spoonful of lactic acid to your diet prior to a meal.

Some people have used apple cider vinegar, but find it a bit irritating. Herbs that stimulate liver and gallbladder function may not be a bad idea (e.g. milk thistle, boldo, artichoke). If stress and anxiety affect your digestion, you may want to discuss your options with a trusted counsellor, clinical psychologist, or even a licensed naturopathic doctor for additional “natural” options.

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