11 Foods to Avoid Eating on an Empty Stomach

Foods to avoid eating on an empty stomach

11 Foods to Avoid Eating on an Empty Stomach

We’ve all been there—you’re starving, and the only thing within arm’s reach is that half-eaten bag of chips or that last slice of pizza.

But before you go diving face-first into whatever food is available, you should know that there are some foods that are better off eaten when you’re not famished since they can cause indigestion, heartburn, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

In other words, eating certain foods on an empty stomach can be a recipe for disaster.

Here are 11 things you should avoid eating when your stomach is growling.

#1. Coffee

A cup of coffee is more or less the first thing we reach for in the morning. For coffee lovers, it’s basically a ritual to start your day.

But drinking coffee on an empty stomach can cause unpleasant side effects like heartburn and indigestion.

Caffeine is also a diuretic, so you may find yourself making more trips to the bathroom.

If you need your morning cup of joe, try eating a light breakfast beforehand or drinking your coffee with milk or cream to offset the effects. Milk and cream will help coat your stomach and reduce irritation.

#2. Spicy Foods

This one is a no-brainer.

I’m sure you’ve eaten something spicy before on an empty stomach and have had to run to the toilet not long after?

If you have, it’s because spicy foods can cause heartburn, indigestion, and an upset stomach.

If you’re prone to digestive issues, it’s best to avoid spicy foods altogether.

However, if you can’t resist, try pairing your spicy meal with a cool glass of milk. The milk will help soothe your stomach and coat your digestive tract.

More importantly, if you’re looking to avoid an embarrassing situation (or just some discomfort), it’s best to steer clear of dishes with a lot of spice.

#3. Alcohol

I’m sure you’ve heard that drinking a glass of red wine is healthy for your heart?

But did you know that alcohol can cause you indigestion?

Alcohol does this by relaxing your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle that helps keep stomach acid in the stomach.

When your LES relaxes, stomach acid can essentially escape and cause you burning and irritation.

Furthermore, if you’re drinking on an empty stomach, it can worsen the side effects leading to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

I know it can be difficult at times to resist the temptation to not drink.

So if you do want to enjoy an occasional drink without stomach issues, make sure to have it with a meal or at least some food in your stomach.

This will help reduce the chances of heartburn. And, as always, drink in moderation.

#4. Orange Juice & Citrus Fruits

If you’re like me, who doesn’t enjoy drinking orange juice with breakfast?

Whilst orange juice contains nutrients like vitamin C, it is also quite acidic on an empty stomach.

This acidity on an empty stomach can cause indigestion and heartburn and irritate your digestive tract, leading to an upset stomach.

The same goes for citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits.

They are fruits loaded with citric acid, an ingredient that can irritate your digestive system when consumed on an empty stomach.

If you do love eating citrus fruits, wait until after you’ve eaten something else before indulging and try diluting it with water or eating a small snack before you drink it.

This will help reduce the chances of indigestion and heartburn.

#5. Soda

Like coffee, soda contains caffeine, which can cause heartburn and indigestion.

But that’s not all; soda is also loaded with sugar, which can upset your stomach.

Consuming soda on an empty stomach causes gas and bloating, and the sugar may make you feel shaky or dizzy.

Unlike other food that you can combine with water or milk to reduce the effects, soda is best avoided altogether.

If you’re craving something sweet, try drinking fruit juice or eating a piece of fruit instead (of course, not on an empty stomach).

#6. Processed Carbs

Processed carbs like white bread, pastries, and chips are quickly broken down by the body and turned into sugar.

Eating processed carbs on an empty stomach can cause a blood sugar crash, leaving you tired and shaky.

If you’re going to eat processed carbs, try pairing them with protein or fat to help slow down digestion. This will help stabilize your blood sugar and give you lasting energy.

For example, you could have a slice of white bread with peanut butter or a bagel with cream cheese to balance the effects.

#7. Chocolate

Chocolate is another food that can cause heartburn and indigestion.

The fat and sugar in chocolate can slow down digestion, which can lead to an upset stomach.

And, like coffee, some chocolates contain caffeine, which can also cause heartburn and indigestion.

Although nobody will judge you for indulging in a little bit of chocolate every now and then, it’s best to eat it in moderation.

If you’re going to have chocolate, try to have it with a meal or at least some food in your stomach.

This will help reduce the chances of indigestion and heartburn, and the fat will help slow down the digestion of the sugar.

#8. Dairy Products

While dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are packed with nutrients, they can also be hard to digest.

Consuming dairy on an empty stomach can lead to indigestion, heartburn, and gas.

The same goes for ice cream, which is typically loaded with sugar and fat.

You may be wondering why yogurt is on this list?

Yogurt contains live and active cultures, which are beneficial bacteria that help digestion.

However, these beneficial bacteria can also be killed off by stomach acid. This is why it’s best to eat yogurt with a meal or snack instead of on an empty stomach.

But what about breakfast, you may ask?

Don’t we always have breakfast with milk or yogurt and a slice of bread with cheese?

Well, breakfast is different. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and you want to ensure you get all the nutrients you need.

That’s why it’s okay to have dairy with breakfast. But make sure you’re also eating some protein and carbohydrates, such as eggs and toast, to help slow down digestion.

#9. Processed Food

Processed foods are often high in sodium and fat, which can cause indigestion.

Also, processed foods are usually low in fiber, leading to constipation.

Processed meats like bacon, ham, and sausage are high in saturated fats and sodium, which can be hard to digest when your stomach is empty.

When eaten in moderation, these meats can be part of a healthy diet.

But when consumed on an empty stomach, they can lead to indigestion and gastrointestinal issues.

The same goes for processed cheese and other dairy products, which are often high in salt and fat.

Processed grains like white bread and pastries can also be challenging to digest when you haven’t eaten anything else.

Of course, we cannot avoid all processed foods; sometimes, they are the only option.

But when given a choice, it’s best to opt for whole, unprocessed foods instead.

Eat processed foods in moderation, and ensure you get plenty of fiber, protein, and healthy fats to help slow down digestion.

#10. Sugary Foods

Sugary foods include sugary cereals, which might be delicious, but they’re not doing any favors for your digestion.

Without any protein or fat to balance out the sugar, these cereals will send your blood sugar soaring. And when it comes crashing down a little while later, you’ll feel tired and cranky.

Your blood sugar levels drop when you haven’t eaten in a while. So consuming sugary foods on an empty stomach can suddenly cause those levels to spike, leading to dizziness, confusion, and headaches.

In other words, eating sugary foods on an empty stomach can cause a blood sugar crash, leaving you feeling tired and shaky.

If you’re going to eat cereal for breakfast, make sure it’s a bowl of oats or another whole grain option that will give you sustained energy throughout the morning.

In addition, sugary foods can contribute to weight gain and tooth decay.

If you’re going to eat sugary foods, it’s best to do so in moderation and with a meal or a snack.

#11. Bananas

Some people swear to eat bananas first thing in the morning when they wake up.

The truth is that this fruit is relatively high in sugar, which can lead to dizziness and headaches if consumed on an empty stomach.

If you’re going to eat a banana, wait until after you’ve had breakfast or pair it with another food item like peanut butter or yogurt to help balance out the sugar.

What foods will help with digestion?

While there are many foods you shouldn’t eat on an empty stomach, a few can actually help with digestion.

So, if your stomach is growling and you need a quick snack, reach for one of these instead:

A Handful of Nuts

Nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats, both of which help with digestion.

When your stomach is empty, these nutrients can help slow down digestion and keep you feeling full longer.

A Piece of Fruit

Fruit is a good source of fiber, which can help with constipation.

It’s also hydrating, so it can help to prevent indigestion.

Just be sure to avoid sugary fruits like bananas since they can cause blood sugar spikes.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is rich in probiotics, which can help to promote a healthy gut.

It’s also a good protein and calcium source, aiding digestion.

You can eat Greek yogurt on its own or add some fruit, nuts, or honey for a more balanced snack.

A Glass of Water

Water is essential for proper digestion, and it’s vital to ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day.

Start your day with a glass of water, and ensure you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.

Fiber-Rich Foods

Foods that are high in fiber have been found to help with constipation and other digestive issues.

Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

When you’re eating on an empty stomach, make sure you eat foods with fiber to help digestion. However, don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids since fiber can absorb water.


Choosing the right foods to eat is essential, especially regarding breakfast.

Eating a nutritious breakfast can help you start your day off right and give you sustained energy throughout the day.

However, there are some foods that you should avoid eating on an empty stomach since they can cause indigestion, headaches, and other problems.

Now I understand that sometimes you want to eat these foods.

But if you want to enjoy them without dealing with stomach troubles, you have to eat them as part of a balanced meal.

This means including proteins and fats to help slow down the absorption of sugar.

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