10 foods to avoid if you’re easily prone to stomach aches

Woman eats noodles at desk, holds stomach

Some people can eat all the junk food in the world and their stomachs will be totally fine. Other people have one scoop of ice cream and feel the pain for the rest of the day.

Certain foods promote healthy digestion, while others can wreak havoc on your stomach. If you’re easily prone to stomachaches, you know how frustrating it can be to unknowingly eat something that causes your insides to turn, and you’ll do anything to avoid it.

Luckily, if you’re aware of foods that cause stomachaches, you can start cutting them out of your diet in hopes of feeling better.

The most common causes of abdominal pain include indigestion, food allergies, food intolerance and constipation — and all of these things begin with the foods you choose to ingest.

If you’re looking to quit your (literal) belly-achin’, try avoiding the following foods, which are common causes of abdominal pain and indigestion.

1. Dairy

Considering that at least 65% of the world’s population has difficulty digesting lactose, it’s not uncommon to experience stomach discomfort after consuming dairy. Too much lactose can cause abdominal pain, cramps and bloating.

sliced cheese on a cheese board

2. Refined Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

Sugar can cause a buildup of gas in the upper intestine, which can lead to stomach aches, bloating or heartburn. Sugar is also not easily digested by the body, and if your stomach has to work harder to digest something, it’s not going to be happy about it. As for other sweeteners, Stevia and monk fruit are gentler on the belly, but steer clear of sugar alcohols, like xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol and erythritol.


3. Spicy Foods

As delicious as hot sauce may be, capsaicin, a component found in peppers, can cause irritation for some people, resulting in pain for people with sensitive stomachs. Though eating spicy foods can be part of a healthy diet, it’s best to stick to milder if you are prone to issues.

salsa and hot peppers on a table

4. Nightshades

Nightshade vegetables, which include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplants, can cause stomach problems in people who have issues digesting this particular food group. Although it is not the case for everyone, people who suffer from autoimmune disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and arthritis may benefit from cutting down on nightshades.

Tomatoes on the vine

5. Saturated Fats and Fried Foods

Consuming too much saturated fat can cause inflammation, so try to limit your intake of red meats, butter and fried foods. Studies have found that saturated fat can alter the body’s gut bacteria, resulting in a triggered immune system and damage to our stomach’s tissue.

cheeseburgers and fries

6. Broccoli, Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts

Burgers and onion rings are pretty well known for being not-so-great on the gut, so should we just stock the kitchen with every veggie under the sun? Not so fast. Cruciferous vegetables — such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts — have sulfur-containing chemicals that cause gas and bloating. Try some veggies that are more stomach-friendly, like sweet potatoes and carrots.

broccoli, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables

7. Coffee

It seems like there’s always a new study touting the benefits of coffee, and a lot of people appreciate that fact that their morning mug of joe helps them stay regular. But coffee is acidic, which can lead to irritation of the stomach lining, and the caffeine in coffee can also cause painful cramping of the abdominal muscles.

person refuses coffee

8. Citrus

Too much citrus will turn you into a real sourpuss. Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit, contain a lot of acid, which can cause heartburn and acid reflux. If you’re prone to stomachaches, avoid these fruits — and their juices.

Mix of fresh citrus fruits on rustic wood

9. Beans

They’re not called the “musical fruit” for nothing. Beans offer a variety of nutritional benefits, but they also contain lots of fiber and a hard-to-digest carbohydrate called raffinose. The process of breaking down raffinose in your gut produces gas, so the more you eat, the more you . . . well, you know.

beans in a sauce

10. Soda

You may have heard quite the opposite — that drinking soda can help ease an upset stomach — but the combination of sugar and carbonation in the drink might end up making you feel worse. Soda also contains citric acid and other chemicals that can be irritating to your tummy.

Mexican Coke

Food, Health
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About the Author
Carina Wolff
Carina is a health and wellness journalist based in Los Angeles. When she’s not writing, doing yoga, or exploring mountains and beaches, she spends her time cooking and creating recipes for her healthy food blog, Kale Me Maybe. Carina is also an ongoing writer for Bustle, Reader's Digest, FabFitFun, and more.

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