Why Does My Stomach Hurt?
*Important: This article is an opinion piece submitted by Wanni, an individual with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your physician.*
As someone who has been living with IBD for over a decade, abdominal discomfort has unfortunately been a regular part of my day to day living. Upon talking with other people who have IBS or other digestive concerns, I have learned some useful solutions. The below tips and tricks may help you live a more comfortable life with less stomach pain!
Stomach Problem #1- Gas
Gas can be a daily source of discomfort for many. Gas pains can be sharp and pass quickly, or can build up and become very painful, resulting in not being able to move comfortably, pants/clothing becoming too tight, and an expanded abdomen area. For many people, gas pains/excessive gas can be a daily occurrence.
Tips for Gas
- Wear comfortable clothing, especially around your abdomen. Pants that are not too restricting such as stretchable waist band, flowy dresses, or athleisure wear is very versatile and can expand if need be. As well, loose bottoms can help hide a bloated belly for aesthetic purposes also.
- Eat smaller portions and more often: I personally feel that having smaller and frequent snacks/meals help avoid being overly hungry and then eating a big meal, which can encourage more gas. Having healthy, easy to digest snacks on a regular basis can help your stomach acid from dropping too low which will only make it more difficult to digest larger meals once you do refuel.
- Hot water/liquids: hot water and liquids such as hot broths/soups can help expel gas. The next time you have a build-up of large amounts of gas try drinking hot water and lying down in a comfortable position and wait for your body to expel the excess gas from your stomach.
- Supplements/pills: Sometimes supplements or “aids” can definitely come in handy, especially when you are out and about.
- Try lying down in different positions and relaxing your body to allow the gas to eventually pass. You can read a book while doing this, go on your phone, or simply close your eyes and relax!
Stomach Problem #2- Food Irritation/Diarrhea
Certain foods can cause an upset stomach soon after ingestion. For me personally, skins of fruits, heavy oils or deep fried foods can result in an upset stomach within hours. This can lead to a burning sensation in the left or lower abdomen in intervals of ten to fifteen minutes apart initially, and getting closer and closer in time and intensity, causing urgency to visit the bathroom as soon as possible.
Tips for Food Irritation/Diarrhea
- Remember what type of foods have caused an upset reaction in the past. Limit or eliminate these foods to help avoid future discomfort and episodes.
- Some people may increase high sensitivity to foods around menstruation. If you are affected by this, it is good to practice extra caution when menstruating to help avoid any stomach pain.
Stomach Problem #3- Overeating
Overeating or binge eating can cause stress on our digestive systems. Although it may be very tempting to go all out and eat to your heart’s content; smaller but more frequent meals might actually be better for people who have a harder time with digestion.
Tips for Overeating
- Plan out your meals and snacks ahead to help avoid ravenous hunger. It will also help with maintaining blood sugar levels which isa super beneficial for our hormones, mood, and overall health!
- Stay away from buffets, all-you-can-eat restaurants, etc. On the plus side, I find a-la-carte restaurants are overall more fresh, better flavoured, and enjoyable!
Digestive Problem #4- Hunger
Much like overeating, being hungry or starving for a prolonged period of time can cause our stomachs to hurt.
Tips for Hunger
- Plan ahead – if you are going somewhere where you are not sure if a meal will be provided or when you will be able to eat, it may be helpful to pack a snack of your own so that you don’t have to worry about going without food for a prolonged period of time.
- When you are breaking a fast, try consuming easier to digest foods first (such as soups, etc.), before heartier items (such as meat, greasy/oily items).
Extra Tips & Tricks
Depending on your gut, sometimes foods that are too hot or too cold can cause discomfort. Although sometimes it feels nice to chug a large amount of icy cold drink, it can quickly turn into a shock for our digestive systems and cause stomach upset, diarrhea, etc. I find that it can be helpful to sip slowly on colder beverages, and consumer super hot foods slowly as well so that the temperatures have time to balance before entering our stomachs.