Irregular mealtimes and excessive stress can spell trouble for your digestive system and lead to gastric pain. Pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen can also be caused by excessive consumption of alcohol, acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) and certain anti-inflammatory drugs.
When it is due to digestive issues, gastric pain can be treated with antacids. A light and wholesome diet can aid in soothing the inflamed digestive system and alleviate any accompanying symptoms such as heartburn, bloating, belching and nausea.
Here are some simple ways to manage gastric pain when it comes to your diet:
- Eat five or six small meals throughout the day rather than three large meals.
- Eat at regular intervals and do not skip meals.
- Eat slowly and chew your food well.
- Don’t lie down for at least two hours after eating a meal.
- Take small sips of plain water to keep hydrated.
“Fortunately for most people, gastric pain improves quickly with treatment and dietary management. Certain foods can help ease the pain and speed up recovery,” says Dr Ang Tiing Leong, chief and senior consultant at Changi General Hospital’s department of gastroenterology and hepatology.
Foods that can help relieve gastric pain
Choose soft, non-spicy and low-fat (non-oily) foods that are easy to digest when you are suffering from gastric pain. You can try foods such as:
- Apple sauce: Apples contain a fibre called pectin which slows down digestion and helps add bulk to stools.
- Mashed potatoes: This bland dish is also a good source of fibre. It is best prepared without milk which can aggravate gastric pain.
- Scrambled eggs: This dish, prepared without milk, is a good source of protein and easy to digest.
- Plain unsweetened yogurt: Yogurt is an excellent source of good bacteria and aids in digestion. Yogurt can also be mixed with water for a light and refreshing drink. Alternatively, it can be made into a smoothie combined with an apple.
- White rice: This is another soft food that can heal an inflamed digestive system.
“In most cases, gastric pain should subside within 24 to 48 hours of starting soft foods. After this you may gradually return to your regular diet. Do consult a doctor if your symptoms persist,” says Dr Ang.