Gas & Bloating and Distended Stomach After Eating Lunch

Lunch is an important meal, giving you the proper nutrition and energy to continue through your day. Gas, bloating and distention of the stomach after eating lunch can be distracting and embarrassing, especially if you are at work. Getting rid of the problem can be as simple as adjusting how or what you eat. If the problem persists, an underlying digestive disorder could be to blame.

Office worker eating salad for lunch (Image: diego cervo/iStock/Getty Images)

Intestinal Gas

As food you consumed travels through the intestinal tract, enzymes break it down into its basic components, allowing your body to utilize the food's vital nutrients. This process can produce gas -- a combination of oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen and sometimes methane or sulfur. Excess gas is sometimes present in your digestive system, which can lead to bloating, burping, passing gas and abdominal pain.

Eating Habits

Swallowing too much air while eating can lead to gas and bloating. If you eat too quickly -- a common occurrence if you have limited time for lunch -- or if you are talking a lot while eating, excess air can get into your digestive tract. Additional contributing factors can include consuming carbonated drinks and wearing loose-fitting dentures while eating. If you eat a piece of hard candy, smoke or chew gum during or after eating, excess air might get into your digestive tract as well.

Specific Foods

Some people have difficulty digesting certain foods, which can often lead to gas and bloating. Any food could be to blame, but common culprits include milk products, beans, wheat products, sodas and certain fruits and vegetables, as well as sugar-free snacks that contain sugar alcohols. Difficulty in digesting milk can be because of a lack of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose, which is found in most dairy products. Food allergies can also be a cause of gas and bloating. Food allergies, however, are often accompanied by other symptoms, such as hives, rashes, watery eyes, sneezing or itchiness of the mouth or skin.

Digestive Disorders

Digestive problems often cause symptoms throughout the day, not just at lunch, but an undiagnosed disease could be exacerbated if you eat lunch too quickly. Eating the same, hard-to-digest foods every day can have similar results. Gas, bloating and abdominal distention may be the only symptoms you experience in the early stages of a disease. Irritable bowel syndrome can cause gas and bloating. Other symptoms sometimes present with IBS are abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation. More serious disorders, such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease, can cause similar symptoms, particularly in the early stages. Left untreated, however, more severe disorders can lead to additional symptoms, such as blood in the stool and weight loss.

Suggested Solutions

Slow down and chew your food thoroughly if you are eating lunch too quickly. Avoid talking during lunch and eating any foods or drinks that have lots of carbonation or increase air flow to the digestive tract, such as hard candy or gum. Try drinking water instead of soda or milk. Not smoking during or after lunch may also help. If changing how you eat doesn't get rid of your symptoms, try eating different foods for lunch. Avoid typical problem foods, particularly dairy and wheat products. Gas, bloating and abdominal distention that persist despite making changes could be due to an underlying digestive disease. Consult a qualified health practitioner if you have symptoms of a food allergy or suspect a digestive disorder.

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