13 Foods & Drinks That Can Trigger A Stomach Ache

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Getting butterflies in the stomach from a first date or an exciting work opportunity is a good thing, but experiencing sharp pains or chronic bloating in our bellies is definitely not fun. About 70 percent of our immune system resides in our gut, so keeping our gut healthy can really enhance our wellbeing and keep stress and mood imbalances at bay.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on healing their guts and understanding their relationships to food, lifestyle habits and exercise. Discomfort on a daily basis is actually very common, and there are many types of food sensitivities and lifestyle behaviors that can attribute to poor health, fatigue, insecurities and decreased productivity. An unhappy stomach can certainly result in a less fulfilling life, as tummy troubles, pain and bloating can make us feel unlike ourselves and negatively affect our mental and physical wellbeing.

By discovering which issues may be contributing to stomach pains and choosing to eat, exercise and live in a way that promotes proper gut health, it's possible to feel healthy and happy from morning to night. Here are thirteen things that can give us a stomach ache and that we should definitely steer clear from.

1. High Fiber Foods

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High fiber foods are teeming with nutrients and can keep us regular with bowel movements; however, excess fiber can result in pain and bloating. "The best way to incorporate them into your diet is to work your way in," advises running coach and blogger Susie Lemmer, in an interview with Bustle. It's also a smart idea to avoid high-fiber foods immediately before working out, as that can lead to bowel problems or stomach cramps during a workout.

2. Raw Veggies

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"Raw veggies can give us digestive pains," says Lemmer. Our bodies have a hard time breaking down the elements in raw veggies, so it might be easier to lightly cook them and avoid tummy troubles. Steaming, roasting, grilling, stir-frying, or sautéing vegetables with a bit of olive or coconut oil will ease digestion and keep the nutrients intact. Furthermore, coconut oil's properties promote a healthy gut.

3. Eating Too Fast


Consuming food too rapidly can hinder our body's ability to digest properly. "Think about the stomach like a muscle; you can't go from never working out to running a marathon all at once," says Lemmer. Flooding the stomach with too much food can cause discomfort and cause the stomach to stretch, resulting in bloating, gas and discomfort. Put the fork down every three minutes and focus on chewing and swallowing each bite.

4. Protein Bars

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Protein bars can be filled with artificial sweeteners and additives. "Erythritol (sugar alcohol or polyol) hurts my belly," says artist and yoga instructor, Tracee Badway, over an email interview with Bustle. Because she loves them, she recommends eating half at a time to allow the stomach to digest the substance easier and to still enjoy the taste. You can also search the labels at grocery stores for bars that do not contain any additives or make your own granola, nut and fruit protein mix at home.

5. Chewing Gum


Studies show that chewing gum can induce gas and bloating, as gum contains artificial sweeteners and brings air into the body with each chew. The influx of air expands the stomach, leading to bloating and abdominal discomfort. In order to limit gas and pain, limit your intake of gum and drink water or suck on mints to fight cravings instead.

6. Gluten

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Research shows that gluten can cause stomachaches, as it is a common food sensitivity. Eliminate gluten for three weeks, and see how you feel. Gluten products have been shown to lead to abnormal bowel movements, diarrhea, and cramping. Not all bodies can digest the substance, and it is totally normal if you are one of the sufferers. Sticking with gluten free grains, such as quinoa and buckwheat, as well as asking restaurants for gluten-free menus should help.

7. Dairy

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While Greek yogurt contains probiotics to improve digestion, other dairy products can irritate the stomach and cause abdominal pain. Those who are lactose intolerant are unable to break down lactose, which can lead to diarrhea, gas and pain, and those who are sensitive may also have trouble digesting the enzyme. There are also many cow's milks that contain hormones, which can irritate our linings. Switch to alternative milks for healthier digestion.

8. Spicy Foods

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While capsaicin found in spicy foods can rev metabolism and promote good health, it can cause diarrhea and stomach woes in many people. Test yourself with mild spices to see how you feel. If you find yourself running to the bathroom, it might be best to avoid spicy foods and stick with fresh herbs for natural seasoning and flavor when cooking instead.

9. Tomatoes

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Foods that are in the nightshade family, such as artichokes, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, goji berries and peppers, can cause stomach discomfort and bowel problems. Plus, tomatoes are incredibly acidic, and acidic foods can also irritate the digestive lining, as our bodies thrive in an alkaline environment. Limit acidic and nightshade foods for optimal gut health.

10. Carbonated Drinks


Carbonated beverages can lead to stomach problems, as the bubbles can create air in our stomaches and lead to gas. Carbon dioxide can lead to bloating and pain. It's best to stick with flat drinks, such as water and fresh juice. Furthermore, drinking out of a straw can let more air into our bodies, so if you are drinking a beverage, sip it from a glass, not a straw.

11. Butter


Experts say that high fat foods can result in bowel problems, such as diarrhea or constipation. I don't know which is worse! Limiting fattening and fried foods, in the forms of processed foods, butter, refined oils, creamy dressings and condiments, and fattening cuts of protein, can help promote a healthier gut and prevent tummy troubles. Use olive oil or coconut oil when cooking, instead of butter, creams, and condiments.

12. Alcohol


Because alcohol passes through the digestive tract quickly, it can cause stomach pains, nausea and abnormal bowel movements, such as diarrhea. Alcohol is low in nutrients and can cause inflammation in our guts, leading to discomfort and bloating. Limit intake and pair each glass with a glass of water to slow absorption. Avoid fattening foods with alcohol, as well!

13. Candies


Candies are filled with sugar, and sugar is enemy number one when it comes to stomach pain. Studies show that bacteria in our stomaches feed off of sugar, and eating too much sugar on a daily basic can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria and chronic bloating, lack of nutrient absorption, pain and irregular bowel movements. Limit sugary beverages and processed foods, as there is sugar hidden in your typical bread, condiments, dressings, soups and cereals. Eat whole foods as much as possible.

Being mindful of what and how you eat can really affect your digestion and overall mental and physical wellbeing. It's never fun to feel discomfort in your stomach, and fear of bowel woes and gas can cause major anxiety, as well. Put your worries to bed by being more careful with your diet, and you'll be feeling fit, happy, and just like yourself again, in no time.

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