Healthy Living

That sudden urge to poop your pants after eating and what you can do about it

Bowel Accidents Happen. Ever had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom and didn't make it in time? You are experiencing a sudden bowel movement. Normal bowel habits range 1-3 times per day, but diarrhea immediately after eating could be a symptom of an underlying condition or fecal incontinence.

Have you ever experienced having to go to the bathroom right after eating, had digestion issues midway through a meal, or even gotten a whiff of coffee and had to GO? Diarrhea immediately after eating is a symptom of several disorders that could be affecting your bowel movements.

SUDDEN BOWEL MOVEMENT URGE VS.FECAL INCONTINENCE

Fecal incontinence is when you have trouble keeping control of your bowel movements and literally have no control over when it comes out. Think of diapers. Nursing homes. Chances are, this is not the case for you.

Having an urgent need for a bowel movement but having enough control to get to a toilet in time and avoid bowel accidents is not incontinence. It probably means you have some type of bowel problem.

You may think having diarrhea immediately after eating your meal is caused by indulging in fast foods or other unhealthy options, but SuReceta’s integrative medicine expert, Dr. Joseph Mosquera asserts otherwise.

“Those sudden bathroom trips you may be experiencing are most likely symptoms of an underlying condition that happen to be exacerbated by poor food choices,” says Dr. Mosquera.

I did some research and partnered up with Dr. Joseph Mosquera to suss out the details of what could be triggering the need to poop right after eating, and what can be done to stop it.

First, let’s backtrack a little to learn about what gives us the urge to go to the bathroom in the first place.

The gastrocolic reflex

The all too familiar “trigger” sensation we feel to go to the bathroom is called the gastrocolic reflex.  Once we begin eating, and have food moving into the stomach, the stomach signals the brain to in turn signal the colon to move out stuff because more stuff is coming down the pipe.

Once we begin eating, and have food moving into the stomach, the stomach signals the brain to in turn signal the colon to move out stuff because more stuff is coming down the pipe.

 “Now people naturally have different gastrocolic reflexes,” explains Dr. Mosquera, “but this reflex can be affected by a number of factors from a food allergy to just feeling anxious.”
When you are stressed out, for example, this usually triggers the gastrocolic response to poop your pants that some of us are all too familiar with.

Bathroom habits: normal vs. abnormal

“A normal gastrocolic response would be going poop twice a day, with a normal range being 1-3 times per day,” notes Dr. Mosquera.

An abnormal gastrocolic response would be going to the bathroom more than this.

If you are routinely having the sudden urge to use the bathroom after, or while eating, it may be a warning sign of a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.

Possible causes of bowel distress and prevalence among Hispanics

More and more Hispanics are dining out these days. In fact, Hispanics make up 25% of the customer base for the U.S. foodservice industry. But eating unhealthy foods on the go isn’t the only reason Hispanics are experiencing more digestive issues than ever before.

  • Lactose intolerance

Affects 51% of Hispanics in U.S.

  • Celiac disease/gluten sensitivity

Affects 0.5% of Hispanics in U.S.

  • IBS

Affects 11.6% of Hispanics in U.S.

  • Bypass surgery

5.2% of Hispanics undergo this surgery in U.S.

  • Gastritis

Affects 6.5% of Hispanics in U.S.

  • Other digestive food allergies (mostly children or teens)

3.1% of Hispanic children in U.S. under 18

  • Crohn’s disease

Affects 0.5% of Hispanics in U.S

(This research notes the prevalence of Hispanics is rising, but it difficult to quantify.)

  • Digestive stress brought on by depression and/or anxiety

27% of Hispanics in U.S.

Is there anything I can do about the sudden urge to poop after eating?

For allergies such as gluten intolerance, Dr. Mosquera says a simple fix is avoiding those foods that cause distress, and finding other sources of nutrients in different foods or looking into the option of supplements.

For lactose intolerance, there are lactase pills that make it possible to alleviate the acute urge “to go” after indulging in dairy.

Unfortunately for IBS or digestive issues brought on stress, depression, anxiety, or just a change from your normal routine, there isn’t a medication out there that’s a quick fix for this problem yet.

Luckily, just because there may not be a medication to take, or explanation for what’s causing your sudden trips to the bathroom after eating, doesn’t mean there isn’t a possible remedy for your stomach woes.

What to do when you are experiencing diarrhea

Furthermore, If you are experiencing diarrhea after eating, and have not seen a doctor yet to identify the cause, the National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) recommends modifying your diet until the diarrhea subsides.

Here are the NDDIC diet recommendations to treat diarrhea:

  • Avoid foods that are greasy.
  • Avoid foods high in fat.
  • Don’t eat foods that are high in fiber.
  • Avoid foods that contain spices.
  • Eliminate dairy.
  • Eliminate food and beverages that could deplete the body of water, like alcohol or caffeine.
  • Avoid eating large meals.
  • Don’t eat too fast.

The process of eating mindfully

“It’s essential to focus on eating mindfully. Try and spend more time with family and friends by enjoying more meals at home. Sixty percent of people these days are eating on the go, and on the road. Our culture has had a total loss of relaxation while eating. Just slow down, and take your time eating,” advises Dr. Mosquera.

“Everybody should have a good, healthy breakfast to start their gastrocolic reflex throughout the day. And if nothing else, remember to avoid processed foods and dining out; eat less food more frequently, and stick to mostly plants,“ adds Dr. Mosquera.

Identifying the problem and starting treatment

There are a lot of digestive diseases and conditions that have very similar symptoms that can be hard to tell apart, especially when you are researching on the internet. It’s important to speak to a doctor in person who can identify your specific case and treatment needs.

The NIH website provides sound information on all digestive issues, and even spotlights the nine most common digestive disorders from top to bottom in great detail.  The American College of Gastroenterology also has credible digestive health tips available on their web page.

But ideally, if you have persistent and unusual bowel movements after eating, Dr. Mosquera recommends seeing a gastrointestinal specialist to find out what exactly is causing the problem, and what you can do about it. Getting a diagnosis means getting help and learning how to treat the condition properly so you can live a better life.

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