Getting Sick After Chinese Food? Here’s Why


Chinese cuisine is a delicious and popular choice for many people, but for some, it can lead to digestive discomfort. If you’ve ever wondered, “why does Chinese food make me sick?” this article will explore the possible reasons and offer tips to help you enjoy your favorite dishes without worry.

From food sensitivities and allergies to food additives and preparation techniques, there are several factors that could contribute to feeling unwell after eating Chinese food. By understanding these causes, you can make informed choices and take steps to minimize your risk of getting sick.

Key Takeaways:

  • Chinese food can sometimes cause digestive discomfort and make you feel sick.
  • Foods sensitivities, allergies, and food additives like MSG can contribute to feeling unwell after eating Chinese food.
  • Cross-contamination and improper hygiene practices in Chinese restaurants can also lead to foodborne illnesses.
  • Chinese food preparation techniques, such as deep-frying and heavy seasoning, can affect how your body responds to the food.
  • By understanding these factors and making informed choices, you can reduce the risk of getting sick from Chinese food.

Food Sensitivities and Allergies

Food sensitivities and allergies are common causes of digestive discomfort after consuming Chinese cuisine. Soy, peanuts, and shellfish are just a few allergens that can trigger adverse reactions in susceptible individuals. It’s essential to identify and avoid these ingredients when ordering from Chinese menus.

When dining out, it’s vital to communicate any dietary restrictions or concerns to restaurant staff, even if you have eaten at the establishment before. Cross-contamination can occur when allergens come into contact with other foods during preparation or cooking, so it’s crucial to ensure proper handling of ingredients.

If you have a food allergy or intolerance, try to order dishes that are fresh and made-to-order. Avoid pre-packaged or pre-made items that may contain hidden allergens. Some restaurants may even offer a separate allergy menu or have staff trained in allergy awareness and safe food preparation.

It’s also essential to be aware of the symptoms of an allergic reaction, which can range from mild to severe and can include hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, or even anaphylaxis. If you experience any symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Ultimately, by being informed about the role of food sensitivities and allergies in causing sickness after consuming Chinese food, you can make more informed choices when dining out and reduce the risk of getting sick.

Food Additives and MSG

Chinese cuisine is known for its rich flavors and unique taste combinations. However, some Chinese dishes may contain food additives that could lead to digestive discomfort.

One of the most common food additives found in Chinese cuisine is monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG is a flavor enhancer that is added to dishes to boost their flavor. However, some individuals may be sensitive to MSG and experience symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and bloating after consuming foods that contain it.

While MSG is commonly used in Chinese cuisine, it is not always listed on menus. To reduce your intake of MSG, try ordering dishes that are prepared without it. Alternatively, you can ask the restaurant if they use MSG in their dishes and make an informed decision based on their response.

It’s also worth noting that other food additives may be present in Chinese dishes. These may include artificial colors, preservatives, and flavorings. If you have concerns about food additives, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.

To minimize your consumption of food additives when enjoying Chinese food, opt for dishes that are made with fresh, whole ingredients. Look for dishes that feature vegetables, lean proteins like chicken or fish, and whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. By choosing these options, you can enjoy the flavors of Chinese cuisine without the added risk of food additives.

In the next section, we will explore the importance of cross-contamination and hygiene practices in Chinese restaurants, and how they can play a role in causing sickness.

Cross-Contamination and Hygiene Practices in Chinese Restaurants

Another potential cause of sickness after consuming Chinese food is cross-contamination and poor hygiene practices in Chinese restaurants. With many dishes containing several ingredients and spices, the risk of cross-contamination is high if proper precautions are not taken.

Cross-contamination can occur when utensils, cutting boards, and cooking surfaces are not properly cleaned between uses, allowing bacteria and other harmful pathogens to spread to other foods. This can lead to foodborne illnesses such as salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus.

In addition to cross-contamination, hygiene practices such as hand-washing and food storage can also play a role in preventing foodborne illnesses. If restaurant staff do not wash their hands frequently and properly, they can transfer bacteria and other pathogens to food during preparation and service.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of getting sick from cross-contamination and poor hygiene practices in Chinese restaurants. First, look for restaurants that have high hygiene ratings and those that visibly practice proper hygiene practices. You can also ask about their cleanliness policies and how they prevent cross-contamination.

Another way to reduce your risk of illness is to choose dishes that are cooked at high temperatures, such as stir-fried or grilled dishes, as these methods can help kill harmful bacteria. Avoid ordering raw or undercooked dishes, such as sushi or rare-cooked beef, as they can increase your risk of foodborne illness.

By being aware of the potential risks of cross-contamination and poor hygiene practices in Chinese restaurants and taking proactive measures to reduce your risk, you can enjoy your favorite Chinese dishes without worries.

Chinese Food Preparation Techniques and Their Impact on Digestive Health

When it comes to Chinese cuisine, the way food is prepared can have a significant impact on how your body responds to it. Certain techniques and ingredients can contribute to digestive discomfort and even illness. Here are some common Chinese food preparation techniques that you should be aware of.


Deep-frying is a popular cooking technique in Chinese cuisine. While it can produce deliciously crispy foods, it also adds a lot of fat and calories. Excessive oil consumption can lead to digestive issues, particularly if you have a sensitive stomach or a history of gallbladder problems. If you’re looking to minimize your fat intake, consider ordering steamed or stir-fried dishes instead.

Excessive Oil Usage

Chinese cuisine also tends to use a lot of oil in cooking. While this can add flavor and texture to dishes, it can also weigh heavily on your digestive system. Oil can slow down digestion and cause bloating and discomfort. If you’re concerned about excessive oil usage, ask your server to prepare your dishes with less oil or to use alternative cooking methods.

Heavy Seasoning

Chinese dishes often feature a wide array of flavorful spices and seasonings. While these can enhance the taste of your food, they can also trigger digestive issues in some people. Spices like cinnamon, ginger, and pepper can be particularly irritating to the stomach. If you have a sensitive digestive system, consider opting for milder dishes or asking your server to go easy on the spices.


While Chinese food can be delicious and satisfying, it’s important to be aware of the potential impact of food preparation techniques on your digestive health. By paying attention to how your body responds to different dishes and communicating your dietary needs to restaurant staff, you can enjoy your favorite Chinese meals without worrying about getting sick. Remember to always listen to your body and make informed decisions when dining out.


As we have seen, getting sick after consuming Chinese food can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of the common culprits include food sensitivities and allergies, food additives like MSG, cross-contamination and hygiene practices in restaurants, and specific food preparation techniques used in Chinese cuisine.

However, there are several things you can do to reduce the likelihood of experiencing discomfort when enjoying Chinese food. For instance, it’s important to communicate any dietary restrictions or concerns to restaurant staff, so they can take appropriate steps to ensure that your meal is safe and enjoyable.

Furthermore, you can educate yourself on common allergens found in Chinese cuisine, like soy, peanuts, shellfish, and MSG, and take steps to avoid them when ordering. You can also look for well-maintained restaurants that prioritize hygiene practices and take steps to avoid cross-contamination.

Final Thoughts

By keeping these factors in mind and taking proactive steps to ensure a safe and enjoyable dining experience, you can continue to enjoy your favorite Chinese meals without worry. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about ingredients and preparation methods, and remember to practice good food safety habits both in and out of the restaurant. With these tips in mind, you can enjoy a delicious and satisfying meal, every time.


Why does Chinese food sometimes make me sick?

Chinese food may sometimes cause sickness due to various factors such as food sensitivities, allergies, food additives like MSG, cross-contamination, and specific food preparation techniques.

Are there common allergens in Chinese cuisine?

Yes, common allergens found in Chinese cuisine include soy, peanuts, and shellfish. These allergens can trigger adverse reactions in susceptible individuals and lead to sickness.

Can food additives like MSG contribute to feeling sick after eating Chinese food?

Yes, food additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is prevalent in some Chinese dishes, can cause symptoms like headaches, nausea, and bloating in certain individuals.

How can cross-contamination and poor hygiene practices at Chinese restaurants make me sick?

Improper handling of ingredients, utensils, and cooking surfaces in Chinese restaurants can lead to foodborne illnesses. Cross-contamination and poor hygiene practices are important factors to consider when it comes to getting sick after consuming Chinese food.

What are some food preparation techniques used in Chinese cuisine that may contribute to feeling sick?

Specific food preparation techniques used in Chinese cuisine, such as deep-frying, excessive oil usage, and heavy seasoning, can affect how your body responds to Chinese food and may contribute to digestive discomfort.

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