Do you find yourself wondering why everything you eat gives you diarrhea? If so, you’re not alone. This type of diarrhea is known as postprandial diarrhea and can come on quite suddenly. The good news is there are several steps you can take today to get to the bottom of the problem and figure out the best solutions.
Likely Culprits of Postprandial Diarrhea
First and foremost, it’s crucial to look at the underlying causes if you find yourself thinking: “everything I eat gives me diarrhea!” Experiencing diarrhea on a consistent basis after eating is a sign from your body that something isn’t right.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Some people who experience frequent postprandial diarrhea have a condition called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a gastrointestinal disorder that impacts the large intestine and can cause pain, bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, and other unpleasant digestive symptoms. If all other possible causes have been ruled out, IBS could be to blame for your frequent postprandial diarrhea. Common causes of IBS include leaky gut syndrome, undiagnosed food intolerances, chronic stress and others. If you feel you could be suffering from IBS, discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
If your postprandial diarrhea comes on suddenly and is accompanied by other symptoms typical of a stomach bug like cramping, pain, nausea or even vomiting, it could be that your gut is fighting off an illness-causing microorganism, causing your digestion to be extra sensitive. In this case, avoid potentially irritating foods such as those that are very greasy or spicy and stick to more gentle options like unsweetened applesauce, bananas, homemade broths, soups, and stews.
Symptoms of food poisoning can also come on suddenly, as soon as a few minutes after eating contaminated food, or may not affect you until a day or two later. Your body works efficiently to protect itself from the contaminated food, so you could experience diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain after eating the food in question. Usually, food poisoning will pass on its own, but for any case of diarrhea that persists beyond two days and is accompanied by a high fever, severe gut pain, vomiting and/or an inability to keep any liquids down, it’s best to call your doctor.
Another common cause of diarrhea after eating is an intolerance (allergy or sensitivity) to a food. Common irritants include dairy, gluten, soy, corn, and certain artificial ingredients, but an intolerance can exist to just about any food. Food intolerances that go undiagnosed over a long period of time can lead to damage of the intestinal lining, often referred to as leaky gut syndrome. When this delicate gut lining is damaged, and molecules are entering the bloodstream that shouldn’t be, your immune system can jump into overdrive and cause a reaction to many foods.
In this case, consider working with your doctor or a nutritionist to uncover which foods are problematic and put together a personalized nutritional plan.
The first step to stopping postprandial diarrhea is determining the cause. Diarrhea after eating that is caused by an illness or contaminated food is sometimes unavoidable but it should pass quickly and should not be a common occurrence. If you are experiencing diarrhea frequently after eating and feel that a food intolerance or IBS might be to blame, it’s best to visit your doctor. You can also try keeping a food/symptoms journal, as this can be extremely helpful in pinpointing which foods might be causing your diarrhea after eating. No matter the cause of your diarrhea, it’s always important to stay well-hydrated and check in with your doctor if symptoms don’t improve.