Diarrhea After Eating: The Most Common Causes and Treatments

Diarrhea after Eating: The Most Common Causes and Treatments

Having diarrhea is an unpleasant experience for anyone, but if you suffer from persistent or intermittent bouts of diarrhea after eating, it can make mealtimes a stressful event. You may find it hard to enjoy a meal because of worrying that it will be followed by “the runs.” In fact, the stress itself may also cause diarrhea to become worse after your meal.

Some of the possible causes for having diarrhea episodes after a meal, or “postprandial diarrhea”, are a viral or bacterial infection, lactose intolerance, food poisoning, and even stress. If you suffer from a chronic condition like irritable bowel syndrome, Celiac disease, or have had gastric bypass surgery, you may also frequently experience loose stools immediately after eating your meal.

The first symptoms of diarrhea may be stomach cramps or abdomen pain after eating. This can occur anywhere between a few minutes and a few hours after finishing your meal. The stomach pain is often followed by having to run to the bathroom.

Thankfully, there are many natural treatments to ease the symptoms of diarrhea after eating which can help you find needed relief and, in cases of chronic diarrhea (constant diarrhea), help manage your symptoms.

Let’s look at some of the most common reasons why eating can sometimes cause diarrhea and what natural remedies are available to get rid of the symptoms.

Causes and Natural Remedies for Diarrhea after Eating

Food Poisoning

A very common cause of experiencing diarrhea after finishing a meal is food poisoning. Food can become contaminated at any point during the transportation and production process. Bacteria, viruses, or parasites in contaminated food can infect a person if they are not killed during the cooking process or if a person eats uncooked food.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of food poisoning are diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and fever. If the food has been infected with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, you could experience diarrhea within an hour after finishing your meal. Other infections could even take up to 8 days for the symptoms to manifest themselves.1

A study published in 2007 showed that bacterial infections that cause diarrhea can be treated by taking fermented milk products (for example live yogurt and kefir) that contain Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei strains of bacteria.2

Studies have also shown that probiotic supplements can also help to treat and prevent diarrhea if the cause is a viral infection that has been passed on through food. This can help you recover from the symptoms of food poisoning quicker.17

Live yogurt is an excellent remedy to get rid of diarrhea that has been caused by food poisoning. Live yogurt contains live active cultures (probiotics) which can help to calm your stomach and restore balance to your digestive tract. If you start to have stomach cramps after eating, eat a few spoons of live yogurt to try to prevent diarrhea.


Viral or bacterial infections can also cause gastroenteritis, sometimes called stomach flu. Gastroenteritis causes the stomach and intestines to become inflamed. These infections can be passed on by consuming contaminated food or being in close contact with an infected person.

Viral gastroenteritis causes diarrhea (sometimes greasy diarrhea), vomiting, and stomach pain. Bacterial gastroenteritis also causes the same symptoms, but according to MedlinePlus, you may also have blood in your loose stools.3 Because the symptoms can appear between 4 and 48 hours after becoming infected, you could find that after eating you experience diarrhea.

Use ginger to get relief from persistent or occasional episodes of diarrhea and stomach pain. A study published in the journal of Digestive Diseases and Sciences found that compounds in ginger help to calm the stomach and reduce the bouts of diarrhea.4

It is very easy to make a cup of refreshing ginger tea to calm your stomach and treat your diarrhea. Take a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root and chop it into small pieces. Put this in a cup, pour boiling water over it, cover the cup, and let it infuse for 5 minutes. Drink the ginger tea after finishing your meal to prevent and treat the symptoms of diarrhea.

Severe gastroenteritis can also cause constant vomiting which can lead to throwing up bile and dry heaves. Gastroenteritis is also one of the causes for having extremely smelly farts.

Food Allergies and Intolerance

If you suffer from frequent episodes of diarrhea after eating a meal you could suffer from food intolerance or a food allergy.

Food intolerance is when your body can’t digest a certain food and it causes irritation in your digestive system. For example, if you have diarrhea after consuming dairy foods you may be lactose intolerant. According to Patient.info, the symptoms of food intolerance are nausea after eating, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea, which can all occur within a few hours after eating.5

Food allergies are when your body mistakes a certain food as harmful and attacks it. The symptoms of food allergies are similar to food intolerance and can cause constant diarrhea after eating a meal. Usually, the symptoms of food allergies come on quicker after eating certain food and may affect different parts of your whole body, not just your digestive system.16

If you think that the cause of your diarrhea after eating food is because of an allergy or intolerance, it’s important to identify the trigger and eliminate this from your diet.

You can also eat some delicious carrot soup to help get rid of diarrhea if you have a food allergy or intolerance. One study found that carrot soup was an effective way to reduce episodes of diarrhea in infants. 18 Here is the recipe:

  • Wash, scrape and finely chop 500g carrots.
  • Cook the carrots in a pressure cooker with 150 ml of water for 15 minutes.
  • Strain the carrot soup to remove any fiber from the carrots.
  • Dilute with up to 1-liter hot water.

Eat the soup in small portions throughout the day when you are suffering from diarrhea to get rid of the symptoms.


Stress can be a trigger for diarrhea and could also be a reason why you have to run to the bathroom after finishing a meal. The Harvard Medical School published information on the connection between psychological stress and gastrointestinal disorders. They describe a “brain-gut axis” whereby severe stress can cause abdominal pain and digestive problems.6

If you are under stress and experience diarrhea after you finishing eating, you should try to make some lifestyle changes to manage your stress better. You can find out some natural ways to reduce stress in my article about effective natural remedies for stress and anxiety.

To get rid of diarrhea that is caused by stress you can drink some soothing chamomile tea which has properties that can help calm the mind and stomach. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology showed that chamomile extracts have antidiarrheal properties and can help to treat bouts of diarrhea.7 Its calming effect on your mind can also help you to relax, thus helping your digestive system to be calmer as well.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome you may experience severe diarrhea after every time you eat a meal. Doctors aren’t sure what exactly causes IBS but it could be a combination of some underlying medical problems that cause chronic digestive upset.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says that the symptoms of IBS are diarrhea, constipation, abdomen pain, and bloating and they often affect a person soon after eating a meal.8

Peppermint is a natural ingredient which can help to calm the muscles in the colon and relieve diarrhea and abdominal discomfort that IBS sufferers have. Studies have shown that taking 200 mg enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules can help to alleviate diarrhea symptoms in people with IBS.9 Peppermint is just one of the herbs that are effective in relieving the symptoms of IBS.

Manuka honey is another effective natural remedy to relieve diarrhea that is due to IBS. To find out more about the health benefits of Manuka honey, please read this article.

Celiac Disease

If you eat foods with gluten in it, you may experience regular diarrhea after eating foods containing wheat, rye, or barley if you have celiac disease. Celiac disease triggers an abnormal immune response in your body and makes the body unable to absorb nutrients from food.

Dr. Gregory Thompson on WebMD says that celiac disease will cause gas, bloating, foul-smelling stools, weight loss, fatigue, and vomiting.10

It is important to visit your doctor if you think that you may be suffering from celiac disease as it is necessary to get a proper diagnosis before treating your symptoms.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

You may have persistent or occasional diarrhea after eating a meal due to inflammatory bowel disease. IBD is an inflammatory condition in any part of the digestive tract. Depending on where the inflammation occurs it can be called ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. The other symptoms of IBD are fever and fatigue, abdominal cramps after eating, blood in your stool, mucus in stool, reduced appetite, and weight loss.

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend limiting the intake of dairy products because they can cause diarrhea if you consume them. You should also try to eat low-fat foods because Crohn’s disease will interfere with how fat is absorbed in your digestive system and fatty foods can make your diarrhea worse.11

Gastric Bypass Surgery

If you have had gastric surgery, you may suffer from “dumping syndrome.” This happens when solid parts of food go directly from your stomach to your small intestine. It can cause you to have severe diarrhea about 30 minutes after you have finished your meal. Dumping syndrome can also cause bloating, nausea, sweating and dizziness.

To prevent regular bouts of diarrhea if you have had gastric surgery, the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery recommends avoiding simple carbohydrates like sugary foods, cakes, and pastries which can cause diarrhea after eating. You should instead eat plenty of vegetables, whole-wheat bread, and foods which are rich in protein.12

Bile Acid Malabsorption (BAM)

Bile acid malabsorption can cause constant diarrhea several times a day and can greatly interfere with a person’s daily activities. If part of your small bowel has been damaged, bile salts that are released when you eat food don’t get absorbed back into your body. Instead, they go straight to your colon causing watery diarrhea (also known as liquid diarrhea).13

The NHS in the United Kingdom says that BAM can be a result of IBS, Crohn’s disease, or radiation treatment. In fact, any kind of bowel disease can cause diarrhea immediately after eating. However, in many people, the cause of BAM is unknown.

To reduce the symptoms of bile acid diarrhea and prevent diarrhea after your meals, Dr. Colin Tidy on Patient.info recommends sticking to a low-fat diet.14 In fact, the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians reported that when fat intake was reduced in patients with BAM, there was a significant reduction in episodes of diarrhea.15

When to See a Doctor

According to Dr. Regina LaRocque from Harvard Medical School, you should see your doctor for diarrhea if you have the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea is associated with vomiting and you can’t keep fluids down
  • You notice signs of bleeding from your anus along with diarrhea
  • You have signs of dehydration
  • Your diarrhea persists for longer than 7 days
  • Severe abdominal pain accompanies loose bowel movements

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