Carrots are delicious and nutritious, so it's no wonder the crunchy veggie is a favorite for many. But carrots are hard to digest for some people, which is why you may experience stomach pain after eating the food.
Here are four potential reasons why your stomach hurts after eating carrots, and what to do about it.
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1. You're Eating Too Much Fiber
Fiber is an essential nutrient that supports bowel health. It can help with constipation relief, weight maintenance and can also help lower your risk for conditions like diabetes and heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Vegetables are a major source of the nutrient, and carrots are no exception — one medium-sized raw carrot contains 1.5 grams of fiber, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But even though the nutrient is a key part of a balanced diet, eating too much fiber at once — which can happen if you have too many carrots — or quickly upping your daily fiber intake can lead to stomach pain after eating carrots, along with symptoms like gas, bloating and cramping, per the Mayo Clinic.
That's because your body doesn't digest fiber. Rather than breaking down in your GI tract like many other foods, fiber stays relatively intact, according to the Mayo Clinic. As a result, raw carrots are hard to digest, and carrots do cause gas for some.
Fix it: Avoid stomach pain after eating raw carrots by gradually increasing your fiber intake over the course of a few weeks, per the Mayo Clinic. This will allow your body to adjust.
Cooking your veggies may also help you avoid uncomfortable symptoms — while carrots are hard to digest on their own, cooking them can help break down nutrients so the food is easier on your gut, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
How Much Fiber Should You Eat Every Day?
According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should aim to eat the following amount of the nutrient per day:
- People assigned female at birth: 22 to 28 g
- People assigned male at birth: 28 to 34 g
2. You Have an Intolerance
Another potential reason why carrots make your stomach hurt is that you're sensitive to the veggie.
Indeed, you may have a food intolerance that makes it hard for your body to digest carrots, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Signs of a food intolerance include:
- Headaches or migraines
- Upset stomach
Fix it: Talk to your doctor if you suspect you have a specific food intolerance or sensitivity. You can usually prevent symptoms by limiting or eliminating the problem food from your diet, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
3. You're Allergic
Though uncommon, it's possible a carrot allergy is the cause of your stomach pain (even though it isn't one of the major food allergens). According to the Mayo Clinic, allergic reactions can cause the following symptoms:
- Itchy or tingly mouth
- Hives, itching or eczema
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, throat or other body parts
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
It's worth noting that a food allergy isn't the same thing as an intolerance: Food intolerances primarily lead to digestive issues, whereas allergic reactions tend to produce more respiratory or skin-related symptoms.
Fix it: If you have an allergic reaction after eating carrots, let your doctor know. They can confirm if you have an allergy and, if you do, avoiding carrots altogether can help prevent symptoms, per the Mayo Clinic.
People with food allergies can have an extreme allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, where your throat swells up and makes it hard to breathe, according to the Mayo Clinic. Seek medical care immediately if this happens to you.
4. You Have Food Poisoning
If your carrot-induced stomach ache is accompanied by symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting, you may have food poisoning, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Raw carrots that haven't been properly washed, stored or cooked can contain disease-causing microorganisms like salmonella, staphylococcus or E. coli, per the NLM.
And if you eat these contaminants, you can come down with a case of foodborne illness. Symptoms may include:
- Overall weakness
Fix it: Avoid food poisoning by washing your hands, utensils, surfaces and foods (this is particularly important if you're also working with raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs), according to the NLM.
Thoroughly cooking your food and putting leftovers in the refrigerator can also prevent harmful bacteria from flourishing.
- Mayo Clinic: "High-fiber foods"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Ask the doctor: Microwave's impact on food"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Food Intolerance"
- Mayo Clinic: "Food allergy"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Food poisoning"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Preventing food poisoning"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.