As a child or teenager, the mere though of vegetables probably made your stomach churn with discomfort. This mental aversion typically subsides with age as you begin to understand the importance of a healthy diet. However, some people actually experience physical discomfort after eating vegetables. In fact, a wide variety of factors can cause stomach pain after eating vegetables.
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Too Much Fiber
Along with their high nutrient contents, vegetables also contain a high amount of fiber. In most cases, fiber is extremely beneficial to the body. When consumed, it helps push wastes through the gastrointestinal system. By simultaneously adding bulk to the stool and making the stool softer, a high-fiber diet allows for improved bowel movements. However, eating too much fiber can cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Since most vegetables feature a high-fiber content, eating too many at one time might cause gas, bloating and indigestion.
The Body Ecology website explains that raw vegetables are increasingly more difficult for the body to digest than cooked vegetables. In fact, the website explains that most people experience “digestive distress, like gas, bloating and abdominal pain” after consuming raw vegetables. Unlike cooked vegetables, raw vegetables contain a specific type of fiber called cellulose. However, the body is not always capable of producing the enzyme needed to break down cellulose. As a result, the gastrointestinal system goes into overdrive to digest the vegetable, which cause the stomach pain and bloating.
In some cases, the stomach pain may actually relate to the method of vegetable preparation. For example, ingesting too much salt is a common cause of stomach bloating and abdominal discomfort. Additionally, some people cannot handle heavy creams, cheeses or butters used to flavor vegetables.
Some people experience an allergy to specific fruits and vegetables. According to a "U.S. News and World Report" article, the condition is known as oral allergy syndrome, and the offending fruits and vegetables cause an allergic reaction when in contact with the body. Symptoms include swelling, an itchy rash, tingling, blisters and difficulty breathing or swallowing. If the offending vegetable is swallowed, it can also cause intense stomach cramping along with diarrhea or vomiting.
Track your daily fiber intake to determine whether you are consuming too much fiber. If so, ease up on these fibrous foods for a few days. Once the abdominal discomfort subsides, slowly introduced fruits, vegetables and whole grains back into your diet. Additionally, trade in raw vegetables for cooked vegetables. Most vegetables maintain their nutritional benefits when baked, simmered, sautéed or steamed. However, avoid boiling vegetables, which depletes them of their vitamins and minerals. Keep and eye on the amount of salt and butter used to prepare vegetables. Rinse and drain canned vegetables before eating them. And if your stomach pain occurs in conjunction with typical allergy symptoms, speak to your physician regarding a possible vegetable allergy.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: What I need to know about Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Fit Day: 3 Signs You're Eating Too Much Fiber
- University of Nebraska, Lincoln: Dietary Fiber
- Body Ecology: How to Eat Your Vegetables Raw (With NO Gas or Bloating!)
- U.S. News & World Report: A Pesky Allergy to Fruit and Vegetables
- Your Asthma Treatment: Allergy To Vegetable Products
- Women Fitness: Stomach Bloating or Abdominal Distension