When you’re hungry – whether it’s first thing in the morning or it’s been a while between meals – it’s hard to reason with your body and be strategic about what you put in your mouth. But learning what foods will help, and what can harm your body, can equip you to make the right choices when you’re starving.
Foods to avoid on an empty stomach
Bread and puff pastry
Foods containing yeast can irritate the lining of your stomach and cause flatulence. Awkward.
Bananas are high in magnesium, which can disrupt the balance of an empty stomach. Best to hold off until later in the day.
Tomatoes have high levels of tannic acid, which increases the acidity in your stomach. Say hello to a gastric ulcer!
Eating sugar boosts insulin levels which can increase the load on your pancreas. This could be a problem if you’re in danger of developing diabetes.
Cold carbonated drinks
A cold bubbly drink on a hot morning is tempting but it can really irritate your stomach by damaging your mucous membranes. That can lead to your food digesting more slowly.
Tea or coffee
As tempting as it is to boil the kettle first thing in the morning, you might want to hold off until after breakfast if you don’t want to increase the acid levels in your stomach, and risk vomiting or constipation.
It won’t do you any harm, but you’ll undo all the awesomeness of yoghurt if you eat it on an empty stomach. The hydrochloric acid, which forms in the stomach, will kill the lactic acid bacteria in the yoghurt, making it delicious, but next to useless.
The fibre in pears can injure the delicate mucous membranes of your stomach. And nobody wants their delicate mucous membranes injured, do they?
Citrus fruits and juices
Rich in fruit acids, citrus fruits can give you a nasty case of heartburn if eaten on an empty stomach, and they can even lead to gastritis or a gastric ulcer.
Raw green vegetables
Raw vegetables on an empty stomach can cause heartburn, flatulence, and abdominal pain. They are a fantastic source of vitamins and amino acids though, so make sure you include some in your diet after you’ve lined your stomach.
Go easy on that poor empty stomach! Spicy foods can irritate gastric mucosa and increase acid production in your stomach. Save the spicy stuff for later in the day.
Foods to eat on an empty stomach
Rolled oats create a protective coating around your stomach lining which can prevent hydrochloric acid from damaging your stomach walls. It’s also a soluble fibre, which is great for lowering cholesterol.
Eating blueberries for breakfast has been shown to improve your memory, and regulate your blood pressure and metabolism. You’ll need to make sure you’re eating them regularly to reap those benefits though, but it’s a delicious habit to get into.
Buckwheat gently stimulates your digestive system which can wake it up first thing in the morning. It’s also a fantastic source of protein, iron and vitamins.
Eating watermelon on an empty stomach provides you with a good amount of fluid in your stomach, which is great for digestion. The high lycopene content also means it’s great for your eyes and heart.
Paw paw contains an enzyme called papain, which can aid digestion and reduce your risk of colon cancer.
If you want to remove toxins and heavy metals from your system, and normalise your gut microflora, polenta is the answer. It will also keep you feeling full for a long time.
Honey is a sweet way to wake up your body and start the day with strength and energy. It also boosts your brain activity and increases the level of serotonin, the feel-food hormone.
Wheatgerm is a great addition to your diet if you want to keep your digestive system running smoothly. Just two tablespoons will give you 15% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin E and 10% of your folic acid requirements. What a great way to start the day!
Starting the day with eggs for breakfast will have you ready for anything. It has been shown in studies to significantly cut your calorie intake for the rest of the day.
Yeast-free wholemeal bread
The best time to reap the benefits of the complex carbohydrates found in wholemeal bread is first thing in the morning. They will provide slow-release energy across your day.
Eating nuts on an empty stomach will normalise the pH levels in your stomach and improve your digestive health.