What Not To Eat On An Empty Stomach

Foods to avoid

When I was a kid, summer vacation was all about spending time with cousins and having fun. And when you talk about summers, it goes without saying that eating mangoes and visiting the beaches were the two things that always topped my list. With mangoes everywhere, we used to brush our teeth and start our day with grabbing a mango, slowly going upstairs and sitting in a corner and enjoying the fruit to the fullest. But one fine day my mom spotted me eating mango and I was at the receiving end. The reason, you should not eat mangoes the first thing in the morning. Eat mangoes only after your breakfast or lunch. After this incident, mangoes were always eaten after breakfast but the fun of eating it on an empty stomach and skipping breakfast was fun.

Not just mangoes, eating oily food in the morning or starting the day with a cup of tea is a strict no-no at our place. I always used to wonder why so and to my surprise, there were foods you should not eat on an empty stomach for the sake of your stomach and overall health. And to know more about this, I asked Dr. Swati Dave, Dietitian and Nutritionist, Ahmedabad about the same. Here is what she has to say as she shares a list of a few common things which you should not have on an empty stomach. (PS: The list of foods may take you by surprise)

Tea: What do you do after you wake up in the morning? Grab a cup of chai, right? But drinking tea first thing in the morning is not a healthy idea. Wondering why? Well, it is loaded with compounds which increase the acid levels in the stomach and can irritate the stomach lining. This, in the long run, can lead to heartburn and vomiting. Hence, it is advised to not have chai on an empty stomach.

Coffee: Just like tea, even coffee is not advised first thing in the morning. If you are a coffee lover and can’t think of starting your day without coffee, then drink coffee after having your breakfast. This is because coffee, when had on an empty stomach, increases the production of stomach acid. It not only damages the lining of the stomach but also increases the heart rate and blood pressure[1].

Sweets: Most people believe that eating sweets on an empty stomach provides a boost of energy to kickstart the day. Although it is not wrong, it can lead to a drastic spike and sudden fall in the blood glucose level, which can lead to irritability and fatigue. It can ruin the rest of your day and can also make you less productive at work as it lacks healthy nutrients and fails to sustain the energy throughout the day. Moreover, eating sweets in the morning regularly can harm the teeth as it can increase the risk of cavities.

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Melons: Most people who run, jog or exercise in the morning tend to start their day with fresh fruits and fruit juices as it gives instant energy. However, fruits belonging to the melon family such as watermelon and muskmelon are a strict no-no, especially in the morning. The high levels of fiber in these fruits can affect the digestion process and lead to gas and burping throughout the day.

Chilled drinks: It is wise to start your day with a glass of water but not with a glass of chilled water or iced beverages. Chilled drinks not only make your digestive system sluggish but also harm the mucous membrane. Instead, have lukewarm water or fruit juices (except melons) on an empty stomach and chilled drinks preferably after meals.

Spicy food: Love spicy food? If yes, then ensure you do not have it for breakfast. Spicy food when had on an empty stomach can irritate the lining of the stomach and can lead to an upset stomach.

Green Vegetables:  Some people who are calorie conscious and want to eat healthy, start their day with green vegetables thinking it will help. Eating salad loaded with greens at least once a day is a good idea to stay healthy and fit. But eating such high fiber (roughage) food without the accompanying carbs for breakfast leads to abdominal discomfort and makes you gassy.

Medicines: Last but the most important thing to keep in mind is medicines. Certain medicines such as antibiotics and painkillers are not recommended on an empty stomach. The reason being these medicines can irritate the intestinal lining and can cause stomach ulcers. Moreover, the chemicals in the medicines can be rendered ineffective. However, not all medicines should be avoided. Medicines such as antacids and antiemetics can be taken on an empty stomach when advised by a doctor. So talk to your doctor about the right time to take medicines.

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So if you have a habit of starting your day with a cup of tea or eating sweets the first thing in the morning, then it’s high time to change your habits for the sake of your health. Do let us know how you start your day with and share the article to as many people as you can to help them start their day on a healthy and happy note.

(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)

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Green PJ, Kirby R, Suls J. The effects of caffeine on blood pressure and heart rate: A review. Ann Behav Med. 1996 Sep;18(3):201-16.

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