Should You Eat Before a Massage?

Your stomach is growling and it’s less than an hour until your massage appointment.  You feel hungry and all you want to do is put something in your stomach, but will it be OK to eat something before your massage? 

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Should You Eat Before A Massage?

It’s best not to eat a big meal for at least a few hours before a massage whether it is at home or at the spa.  You don’t want to feel too full, but you don’t want to be hungry either. In some cases, it might be wise to have a light snack.  Don’t starve yourself or you might feel dizzy or light headed during the massage

Think about timing when you book an appointment to have a massage.  It’s best to plan your massage so that it is not close to meal times.  You have more flexibility when it’s an informal massage you are doing at home.

woman with hands on belly

Why You Shouldn’t Eat Right Before a Massage

Eating too much before a massage can make things uncomfortable for a few reasons:

  • It can cause indigestion.  The body is designed to digest its food in an upright position and it takes time.  Lying down too soon after eating a big meal can cause indigestion and acid reflux.  It would be hard to enjoy a massage when you are feeling a burning sensation in the back of your throat.
  • You may feel bloated.  After you eat a lot, your stomach may feel like it wants to burst out of your clothing.  During at least part of the massage, you will be lying on your stomach which won’t be pleasant if you are uncomfortably full.  If you are having a deep tissue or Swedish massage, there is likely going to be pressure on your back and stomach which will only exacerbate the discomfort of bloating.
  • You will need to go to the bathroom.  If you have to go to the bathroom during a massage, you either have to take a break and go or deal with the uncomfortable feeling of holding it until the massage is over.
  • It can make you feel tired. After a heavy meal, you just want to take a nap.  While you don’t need to feel wide awake for your massage you don’t want to feel so sluggish you can’t enjoy it.

What if You Are Hungry Before Your Massage?

If you are hungry before your massage, first try drinking a little water.  Sometimes when we are thirsty, we misinterpret the feeling as hunger.  Water may tide you over and it will help you stay hydrated.  If water does not satisfy you, it is ok to have a light snack before your massage.

strawberry is container that looks like a bathtub, perfect before a massage snack

What Are the Best Things to Eat Before a Massage?

You want to eat a little something so that you are not starving during your massage.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Nuts - Nuts are the perfect snack when you are on the go because they don’t need to be refrigerated and don’t take up much space.  They are high in fiber which will help you feel full longer.  Some nuts even have anti-inflammatory properties. (1)
  • Fruit - Fresh fruit is another healthy food to eat before your massage.  In addition to fiber, they are rich in vitamins.  There are plenty of different options so everyone can find at least one they like.
  • Yogurt - Yogurt is high in protein, calcium, and has probiotics, which can enhance the gut microbiota.  It is available in many flavors or you can just try plain yogurt.

Just remember, you want to eat enough so that you don’t get hungry during your massage but not too much where it causes issues.  It’s all about moderation whether you are getting a professional massage or using a massage chair.

woman feeling relaxed after massage treatment

Can You Eat After a Massage?

Yes, it’s fine to eat after a massage, but stay away from anything too heavy.  You might even want to bring a light snack, like fruit or trail mix, with you if you think you will feel hungry after your massage.  If you want to treat yourself, have some dark chocolate.  The flavanols and antioxidants in dark chocolate can help reduce inflammation in your system and improve your mood.

Stay away from anything with processed sugar and don’t plan a heavy meal.  It could make you feel bloated and sluggish, rather than re-energized.  A seafood or vegetarian meal might be best. Avoid eating anything fried or greasy, and don’t forget to drink lots of water.

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Jeanette Lynn
 

Jeanette has been a professional massage therapist since 1998. She devotes her life to helping those who suffer from musculoskeletal pain. She's also a Pilates instructor and has a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN).

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