Why does my stomach hurt?

When you ask yourself or Google "Why does my stomach hurt?" - you're more likely to be asking about your gut, rather than stomach. 

Click here for a reminder of what we mean by the gut

Do you ever get pain in your stomach or abdomen after eating?

Or feel bloated and uncomfortable? And it passes after some time or after you've been to the toilet. If yes, then you're not alone. (Not a club you want to be part of, we bet!)

Many people experience being uncomfortable after eating, so we'll share some causes. There's no quick fix. Everyone's guts are different.

There's no rules. So we'll give you some tips to help stop the bloat. And when it happens, our tried and tested ways to beat the bloat when it gets us! 

Is IBS to blame for bloating and abdominal pain after eating?

The definition of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract.

Generally, IBS doesn't cause inflammation or permanent damage to your digestive system. It can cause bloating and other symptoms like cramps, diarrhoea, constipation, gas, and mucus in your stool (none of these sound fun, right?) 

It can be seen as a bit of a 'catch all' diagnosis because symptoms of IBS vary from person to person. Some people may experience flares that come on suddenly; others have chronic or long-term symptoms that are always present.

A flare can last days or months - you never know which. And then things can go back to your 'normal' (remission). And for some people - through careful diet and lifestyle choices - it's possible to never experience another flare again.

The tricky thing here is that there's no medical test for IBS, doctors will diagnose you based on your symptoms and rule out other possible diagnoses.

why does my stomach hurt

How do you figure out what's causing your stomach pain or bloating symptoms?

Step 1 to understanding why your stomach hurts after eating - take some mindful moments to think about what's going on 

Check in with yourself before you read the rest of this guide. Don't rush trying to heal yourself. That might be part of the problem.

Take a few deep breaths. Get a pen and paper. Just stop for a few minutes. Shut off the noise of any and all gut health and gut healing education out there.

Now, write down a few lines about how you are feeling. Honestly, how are you feeling right now? How do you really feel?

OK. Were you really honest?

Now let's think about the answers to these questions; What do you want to achieve? What does better gut health mean for you?

Every single body is different so you should listen to your gut when it's telling you something is wrong.

Step 2 to understanding why your stomach hurts after eating - Keep a bloating and pain diary

Lots of digestive problems are to do with the foods we've eaten, how much we're exercising or stress. So taking steps to change your lifestyle can help, and often prevent, digestive problems. 

Hey we know what you're thinking - "this might sound like a lot of work." But, it's important to figure out what foods or other factors that may be causing your bloating or other symptoms so that you can make small lifestyle changes - an investment for good gut health. 

Things to add to your diary 

  • take a note of what you're eating everyday
  • how much water are you drinking?
  • record how stressed you're feeling 
  • take photos of your bloating

Tracking these things will help you figure out the triggers for your bloating. You'll quickly see if there's a clear pattern forming when you see it in black and white!

It's not easy sometimes to connect your lifestyle with your symptoms unless you take the time to think about it. Only you can do this. If you really want to heal yourself then this is an integral step.

Step 3 to understanding why your stomach hurts after eating - Eliminate first and reintroduce later

After keeping a food log for some time you are likely to start noticing trends in when symptoms present themselves and how long they last. So you'll then see if certain food types are triggering these feelings. 

Now it's time to read the signs. What are your patterns? What is your gut telling you? What are your suspicions? And what's behind your gut signals? 

From here, it's time to get honest with yourself. And it's time to trial reducing your trigger foods. Or time to reduce stress if that's the thing that's getting your gut all angry! 

And of course you should try to increase good gut foods (as long as these aren't the foods you find trigger your symptoms). 

You can gradually start to reintroduce these foods over time and see if the rest has allowed your gut to heal. Key thing to consider here is: listen to your gut if it's telling you something!

It's time to really consider - is my lifestyle contributing and helping my health or making me feel terrible? And really ask yourself what you're willing and able to change to improve how you feel.

more gut resources

Step 4 - consider these good gut options

Our good gut options include

check in with your gut

Step 5 - if you haven't already, speak to your doctor

First things first. You need to be an advocate for your own wellbeing. If we really are honest, your health is the only things that matters in life.

Gut health and digestive issues are hard to pinpoint at times. If you've spoken to your healthcare provider already and you've not felt heard or solutions haven't been found, don't stop. Keep going. 

Use your diary you've been using to guide your conversation with doctor. If you've done everything you can do and even if you've previously spoken to your doctor,  you should speak to them again, outlining your symptoms, frequency and also what you've tried and how successful each option has been (bring your diary with you!)

You don't need to suffer bloating, constipation, digestive ill-health - there are options available and you should explore everything to find what's right for you.

4 in 10 have digestive health issues

Digestive health is a continuous journey for many of us

We can always improve our gut health. We believe everyone knows their own body best, and know when things aren’t quite right.

But we don't always have the tools to get back on track. And when you feel terrible, we just want it to be easy. 

You can take control by understanding how your gut works, and what works for you. Daily consistent choices will have the best effect. Small changes can = big impact. 

You can do this - you've gut this!

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More digestive health resources to help your understand your gut:

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