What Is Early Satiety?

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Early satiety is when you feel full shortly after eating only a small amount of food. People with early satiety are often unable to eat a full meal. Gastroparesis is a common cause of early satiety, a condition in which there is a delayed emptying of the stomach. It is more commonly seen in females than males.

Early satiety is one of the many symptoms that can occur with various underlying conditions, such as uncontrolled diabetes, liver disease, or kidney disease. Prolonged early satiety that goes unresolved can start to affect quality of life as you will gradually experience unintentional weight loss, decreased energy level, and even nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition in severe cases.

Early satiety can also be a sign of a more serious medical condition that needs to be addressed. This article reviews the causes and symptoms of early satiety, as well as diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.

Woman eating yogurt at home

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Early Satiety Symptoms

Symptoms of early satiety may include:

  • Feeling full after eating very little food
  • Inability to eat a normal-sized meal
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Upper abdominal pain (less common)
  • Abdominal bloating and distention (less common)


Early satiety is usually a symptom of another medical condition. One of the most common causes of early satiety is gastroparesis, which is common in people with diabetes.

Other causes of early satiety include:


To diagnose early satiety, a healthcare provider will review your symptoms along with your medical and health histories. They will also complete a physical exam that may include feeling your abdomen and listening to your stomach with a stethoscope.

Early satiety can usually be diagnosed based on your symptoms, health history, and physical exam. However, because early satiety is often a symptom of another condition, a healthcare provider may also order some tests to rule out other medical conditions.

These may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Endoscopy (a test that examines the esophagus and stomach via a flexible tube with a camera)
  • X-ray
  • Stool test


There are several different treatment options for people experiencing early satiety.


Modifying your eating patterns and food selection can help to manage the feeling of early satiety. Oftentimes, you may experience changes in appetite or even loss of appetite. It is important for you to learn which hours during the day you are able to have your largest meal as appetite may vary.

Experts advise eating small, frequent meals throughout the day to ensure enough calories and protein to prevent weight loss. Eat every two to four hours, even if it's a snack.

Other helpful tips include:

  • Avoid chewing gum.
  • Avoid using straws to drink beverages.
  • Chew your food thoroughly.
  • Take sips of fluids while you are eating if you must, and wait 30 minutes before or after to drink any beverages to stay hydrated.

Not being able to finish your meals due to early satiety can be exhausting. You will have to start portioning your meals to what you can finish and tolerate. Add high-calorie high-protein snacks into your diet like protein bars, nuts, and seeds can help you get through the day without feeling fatigue.

Eat fewer fatty meals. Eat fruits and vegetables throughout the day in order to spread out your fiber intake. Focus on lean or low-fat protein such as poultry and fish and strive to always add plant-based protein like lentils, legumes, or soy into your diet.

A registered dietitian (RD) can help you navigate your dietary changes and recommend a personalized eating plan for you and your condition.

Medications and Dietary Supplements

If changing your diet is not enough to address your early satiety symptoms, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to help, such as Reglan (metoclopramide), erythromycin (an antibiotic), or antiemetics (drugs that help prevent nausea and vomiting). 

Dietary supplements such as digestive enzymes (compounds in the body that help break down food and aid digestion) may also be recommended to help your body better digest the food you eat.

Other Treatments

In more severe cases, a healthcare provider may look into additional treatments and procedures to treat your early satiety, such as gastric electrical stimulation (sends mild electric pulses to the stomach muscles to help with nausea and vomiting) or a feeding tube (providing liquid nutrition into your body via a tube) if you are unable to consume enough food orally to maintain proper nutrition.


The prognosis of your early satiety will depend on the underlying cause. 

For example, there is no cure for gastroparesis. However, symptoms of early satiety related to gastroparesis can be managed with changes to diet, medication, and dietary supplements. 

If you are experiencing ongoing early satiety, meet with a healthcare provider to help determine the underlying cause. This can help treat your symptoms as well as prevent additional problems from arising.

If you have chronic (long-term) early satiety, it is important to meet with a healthcare provider.

When to Seek Care for Early Satiety

Seek medical care immediately if you are experiencing early satiety and also have:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Black, tarry stools or blood in the stool
  • Weight loss
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever and chills


Depending on the cause, early satiety may be a lifelong condition whose symptoms impact your quality of life, especially your social life. Navigating how to best manage your symptoms can improve your quality of life. Evaluate how your appetite has changed over time and continue to evaluate if you are eating enough by monitoring your weight.

It is critical to understand the condition and its underlying cause in order to advocate for better health. Getting support from family, friends, and a healthcare team will greatly help in living well with early satiety.


Early satiety is feeling full after eating only a small amount of food. Common symptoms include the inability to eat a full meal, nausea, and sometimes vomiting—especially when eating more than a small amount. Causes include gastroparesis, diabetes, GERD, IBS, stomach ulcers, and cancer of abdominal organs.

A healthcare provider can often diagnose early satiety based on symptoms, performing a physical exam, and taking a health history, though sometimes additional tests are needed. Treatment may include changes to diet, medications, and dietary supplements.

The prognosis will depend on the underlying cause of the early satiety. Seek medical care right away if you are experiencing additional symptoms not usual in your early satiety.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, CD, CDCES
Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, CDCES, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist.