What causes nausea after eating?
By Jenilee Matz, MPH Apr 03, 2023 • 4 min
Nausea is a common symptom that can occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the upset feeling in your stomach and urge to vomit can come on after right after you have a meal or snack. Learn about some of the potential causes of nausea after eating.
Eating too much food can cause you to feel uncomfortable and nauseated. When you overeat, the stomach expands to make room for excess food. The larger stomach can put pressure on nearby organs, which can cause discomfort. It may also lead to heartburn, gas and bloating, especially if the foods you ate were high in fat because they take longer to digest. To avoid eating too much in the future, eat more slowly. Eating too quickly can lead to overeating because it takes your brain time to realize that your stomach is full.
Food allergies and food intolerances
If you repeatedly feel nauseated after you eat a certain food, you may have an allergy or intolerance to that food. With a food allergy, your immune system incorrectly identifies a food as a harmful substance and sets off a reaction that can be life-threatening, in some cases. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or stomach cramps. In addition to digestive issues, food allergies also tend to cause other symptoms, such as a rash, hives, swelling or trouble breathing. A food intolerance, on the other hand, does not involve the immune system. Rather, it occurs when the body is unable to properly digest a certain food, and symptoms are often limited to digestive problems. Food intolerances can cause similar symptoms to food allergies, but reactions are not normally as severe. Contact your healthcare provider if you think you have a food allergy or intolerance so they can figure out what's causing your symptoms.
Nausea after eating can also occur for other reasons. Some examples include:
- Gastroparesis: With this digestive disorder, the stomach does not contract normally. Food moves through the stomach more slowly or not at all. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and feeling full after eating only a small amount of food. Uncontrolled diabetes is a common cause of gastroparesis.
- Food poisoning: Foodborne illnesses can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other digestive symptoms within hours or days of eating a contaminated food.
- Morning sickness: If you have nausea during pregnancy, eating certain foods may make your symptoms worse.
- Gall bladder disease: The gallbladder is located under the liver, and it stores bile for digesting food. Inflammation, infection, stones or blockage of the gallbladder are all considered gall bladder disease.
- Pancreatitis: Your pancreas can become inflamed suddenly or over time, depending on the cause. The most common symptom is abdominal pain that may radiate to your back.
- Stomach or duodenal ulcers: Certain infections, taking medications such as NSAIDS for long periods of time, and having certain health conditions may increase your risk for developing these painful, gnawing ulcers.
When to see your healthcare provider
In many cases, nausea after eating is temporary. However, if you regularly feel nauseated after eating, you should contact your healthcare provider. They can review your symptoms, give you an exam and possibly do tests to determine what's causing your nausea.
Clinically reviewed and updated April 2023.