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Fullness After Meals

Eating leads to a feeling of satiety – a pleasant sensation of satisfaction and reduction of hunger. Feeling full after eating a heavy meal is a normal physiological response to a large quantity of food. After all, who can resist that lemon meringue pie on the menu after scarfing down a delicious pasta dish?

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Our experts explore causes, symptoms and lifestyle changes for fullness after meals, as well as recommend the best herbal remedies available. You can also use our Q&A service to ask a question about fullness after meals.

Symptoms and causes of fullness after meals

Since the walls of the stomach are composed of smooth muscle tissue, an expansion beyond the stomach’s normal volume capacity may cause a feeling of distention and discomfort in the upper abdominal region.

Symptoms of fullness after meals can include:

  • Epigastric discomfort or soreness
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence (abdominal gas)
  • Fatigue and/or sluggishness
  • Disinterest

In some individuals, however, a feeling of fullness may occur after eating only a small amount of food. Specifically, those who have gastroparesis suffer from delayed emptying of stomach contents, whereby food exits the stomach at an abnormally slow pace or stops moving completely.(2)

With this condition, some of the following symptoms may be present:

  • Early and uncomfortable fullness during a meal
  • Burning and/or pain in the upper abdomen
  • Sensation of tightness in the stomach and/or chest and neck area
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting of undigested food, even well after the meal

A more common condition causing fullness after meals is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a chronic digestive disease involving an inappropriate closure of the lower esophageal sphincter – the bundle of muscles where the esophagus meets the stomach. When this sphincter is closed, it prevents acidic stomach contents from splashing up into the esophagus. In people with GERD, however, this sphincter remains too relaxed, leading to characteristic heartburn, pain, abdominal fullness, and occasionally vomiting after meals.(3)

Triggers of fullness

The trigger of fullness after meals depends on the underlying health condition.

For those who struggle with emotional eating, psychological distress or daily stresses can trigger an episode of over-eating. Over-eating may or may not lead to a sensation of fullness depending on the individual.

For those with a structural or physiological abnormality, such as in gastroparesis or GERD, various known food triggers and stress can exacerbate each condition.

Lifestyle changes

  • Choose your food wisely. Eat a balanced diet that includes foods that are slower to digest and make you feel full for longer, like protein and healthy fats. 
  • Know your limits and weaknesses. If your weakness is over-eating during meals, dedicate some time each week to tuning in to your thoughts and the needs of your body, and how those needs and feelings are connected to food. Knowledge is power, and understanding your psychological triggers is a key step in your journey to developing a healthy relationship with food. 
  • Go for a walk after meals. Try giving your body a little more time to decide if it is full before reaching for an extra portion or dessert. 
  • Avoid food triggers. If you experience fullness after eating only small amounts of food, try avoiding known food triggers that are associated with your condition. For example, if you suffer from acid reflux, foods including chocolate, tomatoes and citrus fruits, spicy foods, and foods with high fat content can aggravate your condition and may lead to premature fullness after a small meal.
  • Exercise for fat loss. Excess weight can increase abdominal pressure, and potentially facilitate backflow of acidic stomach contents in susceptible individuals,(5) which may also include fullness after meals. For those who experience fullness due to overeating, exercise can help by expediting digestion due to increased blood flow to the digestive organs.

Products that can help

If you are experiencing fullness after meals, you can find relief using natural remedies that help promote more efficient digestion. Boldocynara contains herbs that support liver and gallbladder function, which helps optimize absorption of food and may reduce abdominal fullness and distention.

Ensuring an appropriate pH balance of the gut is paramount for good digestion. Molkosan is a lacto-fermented drink rich in L+ lactic acid – a substance found in various foods that is also produced by the human body. Lacto-fermented L+ lactic acid normalizes the acidic/alkaline pH balance of an environment, and may help foster a healthy gut environment necessary for good digestion.

Whether your fullness after meals is due to overeating or an underlying digestive health condition, it is always important to work with your primary healthcare provider to keep your digestive system and overall health in check. 

References:
(1) http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20100825/short-term-overeating-has-lasting-impact#1 
(2). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/gastroparesis/Pages/facts.aspx 
(3). http://www.aaia.ca/en/GERD.htm 
(4) http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/indigestion/symptoms-causes/dxc-20209277
(5) http://www.healthline.com/health/gerd/weight-loss#Overview1

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