It is important to note that oatmeal should not cause stomach irritation unless the individual has an underlying health condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. Once an individual develops stomach upset after eating oatmeal, he/she should stop eating and schedule an appointment with a doctor.
The usual conditions that can cause stomach irritation after eating oatmeal include food allergies and celiac disease. Remember that oatmeal is a high-fiber food that is also capable of causing momentary digestive side effects in some individuals.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is described as a chronic digestive condition that causes the immune system to cause damage to the lining of the digestive system once gluten is consumed. Gluten is a protein present in barley, rye and wheat that is safe for most individuals to eat. Even today, this condition is not yet fully understood and the only treatment is to stick with a gluten-free diet. Even though oatmeal does not naturally include gluten, most of the oatmeal products available in the market are processed on facilities that utilize shared machinery with the gluten-containing grains. Unless the oatmeal is clearly labelled as “gluten-free”, the individual should not eat it if he/she has celiac disease.
It is possible for some individuals to have an allergy to oatmeal. Even though oatmeal is not listed as a common food allergen, an individual might be highly sensitive to it. Once the individual develops stomach irritation, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, bloating and cramping after eating oatmeal, a doctor should be consulted for testing.
An allergic response to oatmeal is triggered by a highly sensitive immune system to the proteins present in the grain. The immune system starts an attack using antibodies, histamine and other chemicals that trigger the usual allergy symptoms. When cooking oatmeal with milk which is often done in restaurants, it is recommended that the individual will also undergo testing for milk allergy. By consulting a doctor, allergy testing can be carried out to determine the exact allergen.
Oatmeal is a high-fiber food that contains up to 4 grams of fiber in one cup cooked with water. If the individual increases the intake of fiber in the diet abruptly, he/she might develop excessive gas, stomach irritation and bloating. Continuing to consume the same amount of fiber daily will lead to a decrease in the symptoms within a few days. In case severe abdominal pain or diarrhea develops, stop eating oatmeal and consult a doctor.
Once the individual develops other symptoms such as fatigue, fever, chills or vomiting, he/she might have a serious medical condition such as food poisoning or gastritis. Some individuals who have irritable bowel syndrome might even experience digestive issues after eating oatmeal or foods that contain it.