Why does a growling stomach always seem to happen most in a quiet room? The truth is, our stomachs are as likely to growl in noisy moments as quiet ones. But when it happens solo, we barely even notice it. During a work meeting, a movie, or an intimate moment on a date, on the other hand, borborygmi (another name for a growling stomach) can make us feel self-conscious. So we tend to notice these moments more.
The good news is, most of the time, a growling stomach after eating (or anytime) is no big deal, certainly not a sign of anything urgently amiss, especially if it’s not accompanied by pain, bloating, irregular bowel movements, or other symptoms (some of which could be signs of IBS).
But still, it can be distracting or even embarrassing. So here’s everything you need to know about why stomachs growl and what you can do to stop them.
What Makes Your Stomach Growl?
We’ve been trained to think that stomach noises mean you’re hungry, but sometimes you can experience a growling stomach after eating. In that case, what can it be?
While borborygmi can mean you’re hungry, stomach noises might also mean that you’re eating too quickly or swallowing too much air while you eat, which can lead to some gurgling. It might also mean that you’re eating something that’s tough for you to digest.
If the noises bother you, there are things you can do to stop stomach growling in its tracks or prevent it from cropping up. These four expert-backed steps are a great place to start.
How to Stop Your Stomach From Making Noises
Growling Stomach Solution: Slow Down When You Eat
Katherine Mounce, a Cincinnati-based registered dietitian, passed along some helpful advice so you can put a stop to stomach growling. Her top tip: “Eat more slowly.” When you eat in a rested, relaxed state (instead of absentmindedly scarfing down your dinner in the middle of your latest Netflix miniseries marathon), your body has time to properly digest your food, which may help to quiet some of the noises that take place while your food is passing through the digestive system.
Growling Stomach Solution: Take In Less Air
An added benefit to chewing your food slowly is to avoid swallowing air. Mounce said, “Also, avoid talking and eating at the same time, chewing with your mouth open, and chewing gum.” Excess air in your stomach and intestines can contribute to the rumblings you hear, and following these practices on a regular basis can help to minimize the noise.
Growling Stomach Solution: Eat the Right Things at the Right Time
When it comes to borborygmi, the biggest culprit is probably hunger. “If you find that you are becoming hungry (and noisy!) at a particular time of day on a regular basis, you might not be eating enough or eating the right balance of foods at the prior meal.” If your stomach is causing an uproar due to hunger, Mounce advises that you “consider eating some source of protein and/or fat at that meal, as these components promote satiety.” You might be thinking, but my stomach’s growling and I’m not hungry. But consider when you last ate. You might not feel hungry, but your body may bet trying to indicate that you are.
Growling Stomach Solution: Just Say No to Certain Foods
This one may seem obvious, but if there are particular foods that always tend to make you feel gassy or bloated after you eat them, then it’s probably time to say goodbye to those foods for good (or at least cut way back).
Mounce says that common culprits are “high-fat foods, foods with alternative or artificial sweeteners, dairy, caffeine, and even alcohol.” It depends on the reason for your digestive distress (anything from IBS to celiac disease to lactose intolerance), which is why there isn’t one certain list of foods to stay away from.
What causes your stomach to grumble and growl may be different from what affects someone else, so you have to take the time to pay attention to how certain foods make you feel. If you’re experiencing other symptoms that make you feel your condition may be more serious than just a little stomach noise, be sure to see your doctor so they can help you determine which foods to eliminate, as well as any other healing protocols.
— Additional reporting by Mirel Zaman