Why do I need to rush to the bathroom after a meal?

by | Jul 24, 2019 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

Over the years of being a GI dietitian I have joined many of the FODMAP Facebook groups for more information to help my clients. One question I see posted often is about the need to rush to the bathroom soon after a meal. These individuals ask this because it is felt that this has to be due to consuming a high FODMAP food at that particular meal. Thankfully, having to use the bathroom soon after a meal is very normal. It happens in many that do not even have gastrointestinal issues at all. The need to use the bathroom soon after a meal is caused by the gastrocolic reflex.

When someone begins eating, the gastrocolic reflex stimulates movement in the GI tract.  The gut starts contracting when food hits the stomach, telling the colon to empty, to make room for the food currently being consumed. This is a very natural movement, but in those that have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it can be abnormally strong. These symptoms can be exacerbated after a meal, sometimes causing increased abdominal pain, gas, abdominal distention and urgency.

So, if this is exaggerated in those with IBS, isn’t it a FODMAP issue? The answer to that question is yes and no. A FODMAP reaction usually takes about 4 hours to occur. So, if symptoms are increased soon after a meal, the meals consumed earlier in the day or the day prior need to be looked at first. Symptoms could be worse because of a high FODMAP food/meal, but it is likely not from the meal just consumed. 

If someone has IBS, this reflex can be intensified by eating a large meal or one that is high in fat. Also, drinking a large cold drink quickly can be a trigger as well. If post-meal symptoms are an issue for someone with IBS, consider eating small frequent meals that are not very high in fat. Eating small frequent meals if one has SIBO is not encouraged.

Gastrointestinal issues are not a one size fits all approach. It is a lot of trial and error. The FODMAP diet is a great approach for decreasing symptoms, but sometimes one has to look at other possibilities of symptom triggers as well.


The information in this blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis and treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before altering your diet, starting a new treatment or making changes to an existing treatment.


Meet Valerie

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist - CDN, RDN

My name is Valerie Polley. I am a Indianapolis-based registered dietitian and owner of Blue Tree Nutrition. I consult with clients both local and far away.
I have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Purdue University and I have been practicing for 20 years.
I thoroughly enjoy helping clients through their gut health journey. I see a range of GI issues including, but not limited to celiac disease, IBS and SIBO. I also specialize in the FODMAP elimination diet.

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