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Why Does my Stomach Bloat Despite Eating Less?

Feeling bloated after eating is usually not a cause for concern, even if you eat less. It just might be possible that sometimes what you eat does not sit well with your digestive system, thus causing bloating. A bloated stomach feels full, tight, and sometimes even painful. You may feel bloated even if your abdomen does not feel distended.

Bloating is usually a digestive issue, though in some cases, stress and hormones also play a role. However, sometimes, there could be an underlying medical condition responsible for bloating. Abdominal bloating can develop within just a few hours of eating. There is no doubt that abdominal bloating can feel uncomfortable, and it is often accompanied by flatulence or gas. You may feel that even though you are not eating much, your stomach still feels bloated. This is because loss of appetite may also accompany abdominal bloating. There are several medical conditions that can cause loss of appetite and bloating to occur together.(1, 2, 3)

Why Does My Stomach Bloat Despite Eating Less?

The most common cause of stomach bloating and pain is usually excessive intestinal gas. If you feel bloated in your stomach after eating, even if you eat less, it is usually a digestive issue. It might even be as simple a thing as eating too fast or too much, or you might have a food intolerance. It can also be any other condition that causes digestive contents and gas to build up. In women, the menstrual cycle might also be a cause of temporary bloating. However, sometimes, a bloated stomach can be an indication of a more serious medical condition.(4, 5, 6)

Causes of Abdominal Bloating and Loss of Appetite

Some conditions may cause loss of appetite (causing you to eat less) and abdominal bloating together. Abdominal bloating usually occurs when the intestines and/or stomach fills up with excess gas or air. This may even happen if you take in too much air through your mouth, or it can happen during the digestive process.(7)

Experiencing loss of appetite is usually a side effect of medical therapies or acute illness, such as treatment for cancer. The many changes that your body goes through during the natural aging process can also cause you to lose your appetite as you get older.

Some of the common causes of loss of appetite and abdominal bloating are as follows:

In some rare cases, abdominal bloating along with loss of appetite can also be a sign of certain cancers, including stomach, colon, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers. In such cases, where the abdominal bloating and loss of appetite are caused by cancer, another common symptom you will notice is sudden weight loss.

If your stomach bloating is caused by gas, it might be an indication that your digestion has gone wrong. While you can even take in excessive gas by swallowing air or drinking carbonated beverages, these gases usually escape the body through belching before they can reach the intestines. Gasses in the intestines, though, are generally produced by the bacteria present in your gut that digest carbohydrates, a process that is known as fermentation.

If you eat too much carbohydrates and they don’t get naturally absorbed in the digestive process, there will be too much fermenting. It can also be that you just ate too much too fast to allow proper digestion.

Some other causes of abdominal bloating can include:

  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO): This is a condition that occurs when gut bacteria from the colon overflows and spills into the small intestine. The overgrowth of these bacteria can also begin to overwhelm other bacteria that are supposed to balance them. Some bacteria can even absorb the gasses produced by other bacteria, but having too many of one kind and not the other kind can throw off the balance of the gastrointestinal system.(8, 9) SIBO may also occur in patients who have IBS.(10)
  • Carbohydrate Malabsorption: Some people experience difficulties in digesting certain types of carbohydrates or sugars. Some of the common culprits causing this may include fructose, lactose, and carbohydrates present in beans and wheat. You may be intolerant to these compounds, or you may just be having some general difficulties, causing your body to struggle more in order to digest the tougher carbohydrates. A nutritionist or a gastrointestinal specialist may help you isolate your dietary sensitivities and intolerances.(11, 12)
  • Functional Digestive Disorders: Conditions like IBS and functional dyspepsia are diagnosed when the body struggles more with digestion for any number of unknown reasons. Symptoms usually include bloating and gas after eating. You should be on the lookout for alarming symptoms like constipation or diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, anemia, bleeding, fever, and unintentional weight loss.(13, 14, 15)
  • Visceral Hypersensitivity: Many people feel bloated and gassy even if their gas volume in the stomach is normal. This condition usually occurs with IBS and other related conditions that involve the gut-to-brain neural pathways. Some people may develop a muscular hyper-reaction that occurs to make room in the stomach cavity for gas. In this condition, the abdominal muscles relax and begin to protrude outward in the presence of gas, even though the actual gas volume is normal.(16, 17)

How to Avoid Feeling Bloated After Eating?

Here are some tips to avoid feeling bloated after eating:

  • Do not eat too much fiber, which is a carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. While fiber is important for the body and is needed to help maintain the levels of blood sugar, but too much fiber or having high-fiber foods can cause excessive gas production in some people. In fact, one study found that a low-fiber diet actually helps relieve bloating in people who have idiopathic constipation.(18)
  • Be aware of what foods don’t suit you. Bloating is a common symptom of any food intolerance or food allergy. Allergies and intolerances can cause excessive gas production, or gas may even get trapped in the gastrointestinal tract. The most common food intolerances or allergies are caused due to gluten or wheat. It is best to identify any food intolerance and allergies through trial and error. Keeping a food diary to track what foods cause bloating can help.
  • Eating and drinking too quickly. Eating or drinking too quickly increases the amount of air you are swallowing, leading to a build-up of more gas in the gastrointestinal tract. Slow down the rate at which you eat and drink to reduce this problem.
  • Avoid too many carbonated drinks. Carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide, which builds up in the gastrointestinal tract and causes bloating. Even diet versions of these drinks can cause this problem. It is best to drink still water to avoid the risk of bloating.
  • Avoid chewing gum as this causes you to swallow more air. This air builds up in the digestive tract and causes bloating.

When Should You See A Doctor?

Feeling bloated after eating is a common experience and usually not a cause of concern. People who experience bloating are generally able to treat their symptoms at home with natural remedies. However, sometimes bloating can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. Anyone who has bloating along with the following symptoms should consult a doctor:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Skin irritation
  • Fatigue
  • People who experience bloating after most of their meals should definitely speak at a doctor.

You should also see your doctor if your bloating:

  • Gets progressively worse
  • Persists for over a week.
  • Gets persistently painful.
  • Is accompanied by symptoms like fever, bleeding, or vomiting.


Having a bloated stomach after eating can be very unpleasant and also cause discomfort. While it is a common experience, it is usually temporary and should disappear either on its own or with the help of some natural remedies. If you are in doubt about what is causing the bloating, you should consider seeing a doctor for professional guidance.


  1. Koch, K.L. and Stern, R.M., 1990, October. Functional disorders of the stomach. In Seminars in gastrointestinal disease (Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 23-36).
  2. Azpiroz, F. and Malagelada, J.R., 2005. Abdominal bloating. Gastroenterology, 129(3), pp.1060-1078.
  3. Rao, S.S., 1997. Belching, bloating, and flatulence: how to help patients who have troublesome abdominal gas. Postgraduate medicine, 101(4), pp.263-278.
  4. Seo, A.Y., Kim, N. and Oh, D.H., 2013. Abdominal bloating: pathophysiology and treatment. Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility, 19(4), p.433.
  5. Schmulson, M. and Chang, L., 2011. The treatment of functional abdominal bloating and distension. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 33(10), pp.1071-1086.
  6. Schmulson, M. and Chang, L., 2011. The treatment of functional abdominal bloating and distension. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 33(10), pp.1071-1086.
  7. Agrawal, A. and Whorwell, P.J., 2008. abdominal bloating and distension in functional gastrointestinal disorders–epidemiology and exploration of possible mechanisms. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 27(1), pp.2-10.
  8. Quigley, E.M., 2019. The spectrum of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Current Gastroenterology Reports, 21(1), pp.1-7.
  9. Gasbarrini, A., Lauritano, E.C., Gabrielli, M., Scarpellini, E., Lupascu, A., Ojetti, V. and Gasbarrini, G., 2007. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: diagnosis and treatment. Digestive diseases, 25(3), pp.237-240.
  10. Posserud, I., Stotzer, P.O., Björnsson, E.S., Abrahamsson, H. and Simrén, M., 2007. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Gut, 56(6), pp.802-808.
  11. Hammer, H.F., Fine, K.D., Santa Ana, C.A., Porter, J.L., Schiller, L.R. and Fordtran, J.S., 1990. Carbohydrate malabsorption. Its measurement and its contribution to diarrhea. The Journal of clinical investigation, 86(6), pp.1936-1944.
  12. Goldstein, R., Braverman, D. and Stankiewicz, H., 2000. Carbohydrate malabsorption and the effect of dietary restriction on symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and functional bowel complaints. The Israel Medical Association journal: IMAJ, 2(8), pp.583-587.
  13. Talley, N.J., 1998. Scope of the problem of functional digestive disorders. European Journal of Surgery, 164(S12), pp.35-41.
  14. Chassany, O., Marquis, P., Scherrer, B., Read, N.W., Finger, T., Bergmann, J.F., Fraitag, B., Geneve, J. and Caulin, C., 1999. Validation of a specific quality of life questionnaire for functional digestive disorders. Gut, 44(4), pp.527-533.
  15. Mařatka, Z., 2008. Functional digestive disorders–pathophysiological approach. Folia Gastroenterol Hepatol, 6(3), pp.85-87.
  16. Camilleri, M., Coulie, B. and Tack, J.F., 2001. Visceral hypersensitivity: facts, speculations, and challenges. Gut, 48(1), pp.125-131.
  17. Mertz, H., 2003. Visceral hypersensitivity. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 17(5), pp.623-633.
  18. Ho, K.S., Tan, C.Y.M., Daud, M.A.M. and Seow-Choen, F., 2012. Stopping or reducing dietary fiber intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms. World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG, 18(33), p.4593.
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 24, 2022

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