AF after eating evening meal: Having gone a... - AF Association

AF Association

20,717 members25,399 posts

AF after eating evening meal


Having gone a very long time without AF, in the past few days I have experienced both fast heartbeat and fast heart beat followed by AF after an early evening meal every evening. Normally in addition to my main course I have fresh fruit and prunes for dessert.

I often have had strange feelings after my evening meal but until now nothing came of it. It doesn’t happen after breakfast or after lunch.

I am guessing it is my vagal nerve playing up and also am wondering if it is the sugar rush from the prunes.

I will talk to my Arrhythmia Nurse in the morning, but I was thinking that maybe I will try eating a little more at lunchtime and missing anything substantial to eat in the evening and certainly reducing the fruit.

I am pleased to report that all is calm now in the heart department this evening after 1 hour of AF that as usual seemed like a lifetime.

I know I am a delicate soul but despite years of experience I still go into panic mode despite knowing exactly what I should do to calm down.

Answers on a postcard.


61 Replies

Hi Pete

My first thought is whether your meals contained any artificial additives, these can be in gravy mixtures, pills etc.? Maltodextrin, one often used, can bring my AF on.

For me, eating a large meal with perhaps a dessert afterwards, then moving around is a sure trigger to set my AF off and make me feel ill. Could you perhaps eat your dessert two hours later.

Just a few ideas.


Hello Jean

I am not aware of any artificial additives that I am aware of.

For some time now I have tried to eat smaller and smaller meals anyway because I easily get full up. So I don't think I had too big a meal.

I normally eat a small salad at lunch but today had a normal meal that I would have had tonight just Pie, mash and beans.

All is well so far so I think changing my eating habits around might be the solution.


Janith in reply to pottypete1

Mash and beans ! Ew With pie. Omg, it’s no wonder you had an afib episode. What is “mash”? What about having a piece of fish with white rice and zero pie?

pottypete1 in reply to Janith

This is not a regular food for me.

It does sound bad doesn't it, I expect to be told off again as soon as others read this.

Good news is I am fine now an hour after eating first time in days. The lunchtime option is looking good.


Janith in reply to Janith

Poor you ... you will be fine. However, diet is exceedingly important ... beans create gas ... not good ... keep your meals very simple and try not to mix veggies with a starch ... take magnesium... the more simple the meal, the better. Best, Jan

queseyo in reply to Janith

Yep, I'm vegan and even that meals are very tricky to set me on AF...I've decided to have my main proteins and carbs at lunch time and at evening very light meals and some fruit...some time works...If I were not vegan I be dead by now.

I would make the evening meal a very light one and see what happens. I try to have my main meal at about 1pm and only light snack in the evening. I don't find fruit a trigger but certainly any thing approaching a substantial meal in the evening is no good for me.

pottypete1 in reply to Jalia

Yes that is what I intend to do and see how it goes.


Dollcollector in reply to Jalia

Yes, l do that. I have always had my main meal at lunchtime and a lighter one at 5 or 6p.m. , no later. Nothing then until breakfast at 7.30. a.m.

Hi, probably nothing to do with it but as I suffer from IBS (the brother of AF) I have researched diet quite a bit and one useful thing I discovered is that you should never eat fruit after a meal, only between meals or before. The reason is that fruit digests quicker than other foods so if ‘blocked’ by your eg steak and chips can cause bloating as it ferments. Prunes and fresh fruit after dinner would be a recipe for disaster for me! That is one reason you start breakfast with orange juice or prunes - I have pineapple - and have grapefruit or melon as a starter. Of course some people (my husband) can get away with it but sensitive people can’t.

I went through a phase of palpitations after dinner and was advised to eat small meals so that’s probably good advice.

Hope you find a solution 💜

Finvola in reply to Buffafly

Very interesting Buffafly - and it makes so much sense.

BobDVolunteer in reply to Buffafly

I knew that Buffafly or to be precise my wife did but then she knows everything. Got set of Encyclopedia Britanica going free if anybody wants them. lol 😁

pottypete1 in reply to Buffafly

Unlike BobD I have never heard of this and will definitely take heed.

Thank you so much for taking the trouble to respond.


That's very common for me too Pete - afib or ectopics after evening meal. I agree about vagal connection. I think it's not only size of meal but fact that I am in recliner with feet up. An after-dinner walk would probably help both of us! lol!

After dinner walk is supposed to be good - but being in rest and digest mode whilst eating and for 20-30 minutes in seated position immediately following eating is essential I found.

pottypete1 in reply to CDreamer

I think you have a point about resting this is normally what I do. Last night in particular I had to get up from my chair quite soon after my dinner and I am sure that exacerbated the situation.


Your point about sitting in a recliner is also valid as I have done just that.

Only strange thing is why did it all kick off last week when I have eaten this way for years with no real issues.


Good plan to try eating more at lunchtime and less in the evening. Just add, take you time to eat - really slow it down and do not move from your chair for 20-30 minutes after eating. We need to be in Rest & Digest mode to properly digest our meal and when we start moving around or eating on the go or eat when we are stressed is the worst antagonist for triggering AF - learned from experience. Hopefully it will be a blip.

pottypete1 in reply to CDreamer

I like your advice it is what I am going to do and hopefully all will calm down for me.

My main issue generally is that I have Bradycardia and therefore any reason for my heart rate to rise makes me feel very nauseous and horrible. I wake each morning with a heart rate around 40 bpm. So for me an increase to 80bpm is extreme in the way that 120bpm is for someone who rests at 60bpm.


Echo other posters here ,I can't eat raw fruit in the evening or I suffer for it,either with digestion or aF. Also, I can't move about without consequences straight after even the smallest meals. So I have gone quite Continental and sit at table lingering over coffee or whatever afterwards.

Did you get up suddenly after your usual evening meal,perhaps to answer phone ?

Glad it's back in the box for you....

Best wishes

ectopic1 in reply to wilsond

It's a good job fruit and veg don't affect me, I get 8-10 portions a day. :-)

wilsond in reply to ectopic1

Me too esp veg but no raw fruit after 5pm...weird !

pottypete1 in reply to wilsond

Very interesting how many have experienced similar issues.

I will take heed.


Nothing to add, just wanted to say I hope thing stay under control Pete.....

Sorry to read this Pete - I can't add anything to the others' comments regarding the trigger(s) but agree with you -

breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper.

You'll beat it.

irene75359 in reply to Finvola

Finvola, I know you are right, but my meals are the other way round - often skip breakfast, light lunch and my main meal of the day in the evening. For some time now my heart has been pounding (not AFib) after eating at night so this post has been illuminating - I need to work on switching things around!

Finvola in reply to irene75359

I did that too whilst we were working but once we retired, the endless leisurely breakfasts started as we enjoyed the new-found freedom and gradually dinner became less of a time to sit and talk through the events of the day. Incidentally, the both lost weight without really trying too hard.

I'd be disinclined to get too wrapped up in what specific foodstuffs you're eating, that way lies a wild goose chase of post hoc conclusions. Eating in general provokes AF because of the effect on the autonomic system, I've had it both after evening meals, and midday. I sometimes think that the hungrier I was before eating, the worse the effect, but I'm also not sure that isn't just post hoc.

I think that I would be inclined to agree with Finvola. Yes it could be the foods, having said that my thoughts turn to volume ie are you overloading. That in itself will make your heart work harder, as it attempts to digest it. As such you are disturbing the rhythm and workings of your inners.

pottypete1 in reply to john6

No I am definitely not overloading I promise. I have tried for some time to eat less and in fact always am unable to eat all that is on the plate.

I eat at lunchtime today and will probably eat very little this evening.


Every day's a school day....earlier responses are spot on from my experience. Main meal lunch, evening meal before 6pm & lighter (4 hrs before lying down in bed), usually no fresh fruit in the evening but stewed apple seems OK, always a period of sitting after meals for at least an hour. After freshly squeezed apple juice was the last time I had an AF wobble.

Incidentally, having a bit of a learning curve on breathing at present. James Nestor's well researched best seller book 'Breath' suggests to improve digestion - before meals breathe through your left nostril (relaxes you) and after the meal through your right nostril (speeds up digestion); he says 24 times each & holding for 5 secs but I am starting with half that level.

pottypete1 in reply to secondtry

Thanks for the response it all makes sense to me.

As I mentioned in an early reply the thing is however, I am now 73 and apart from eating smaller and smaller meals I have not changed my eating habits in years.

However, as my wife said to me our health evolves with every day we stay on this earthly coil.


Thank you to all for your very kind responses, I really appreciate you all taking the trouble to answer my post.


Yep, me too Pete. X

pottypete1 in reply to dedeottie

I always knew I was in good company, now I am sure I am.

I am waiting for a call back from the hospital to see what take my EP has on the subject. I will report accordingly if anything new is suggested.


Interesting conversations here. Since my fourth ablation I have had indigestion and I think breakthrough high heart rates which last week I went to ER and ended in a hospital stay. I think I could have avoided this- aww it’s such a long story. Having done these trips to ER the last six years it’s not a place I like to go. Trying to be cautious about my eating now

hello pottypete1. i have been getting exactly the same as you. Fine after breakfast and lunch but ectopics an AF after the evening meal. Sometimes accompanies by a lot of burping. I'm convinced its related to the vagus nerve and have been trying eating a low fomap diet for this past month, so cutting out fermentable foods, which bloat the stomach and can them press on the vagus nerve and in turn on the heart. I do feel that eating this way (touch wood) is helping. My evening meal is i guess usually the largest of the day and probably the most filling. Tend to have porridge with berries, seeds, yoghurt for breakfast and salad for lunch but evening meal could be chilli, curry, bolognese, shepherds pie etc, certainly heavier but cutting out fodmaps is worth a try i think. Look on Hope this helps.

I have noticed-and have commented on this a few times- that eating foods with a high sugar content (e.g. biscuits, chocolates) often triggers ectopics and subsequently PAF, so I would think it’s not implausible that this could have happened in your case. Hopefully it’s just a blip. I would try to cut down on overall sugar consumption rather than just changing eating times, although that might also help.

I really do not eat a lot of sugar. I know that there is natural sugar in fruit but we are also told to try and eat 5 types of fruit a day.

I can't win.


Buffafly in reply to pottypete1

No, two portions of fruit and everything else veggies! Of course you could make up your two 80g portions with five fruits......

Amigos in reply to pottypete1

I have PAF, Eptopic heart beats, two leaking valves.had one heart attack due to a blood clot caused by the AF, Had it for 28 years now. Food is a trigger, spicy foods are a no no. Heavy meals are bad, I try to eat main meal early. I also have a kidney problem, but I don’t worry about any of it. But just enjoy the life I’ve got. Stress is a trigger for AF so keep calm.

I have a suspicion that the vagal nerve can’t actually “play up” since it would affect so much more than the heart. What I think might be happening is that your stomach is being pushed higher by food and, perhaps, swallowed air, and can then push the diaphragm upwards into physical contact with the base of your heart. This can be sufficient to cause ectopic beats, and, if these happen to start near to the pulmonary vein, that can bring on fibrillation. Another possibility is that if you have a hiatus hernia, a similar effect can occur (as is my case - but without the Afib).


pottypete1 in reply to Ppiman

I do have a hiatus hernia and have had this condition for many years.

I think you are right about the proximity of the stomach to the heart and I also get issues with air being trapped and having awful pain when obviously swallowing it.

I think I should have intravenous food that would solve it.


Ppiman in reply to pottypete1

It would! 😂 What I also feel is that a hiatus hernia, evens small one, can cause many more troubles to a few people than doctors realise.


Some of what you have written is familiar to me. As when I eat too much( even when others would not consider it large portions) in the evening and if I’m slouched over I have felt it was a trigger for my a fib.

So I am attempting to eat less and sit up straight when eating. Just wish this were the only trigger for my afib, and rapid pulse.

It helps to read that others have experienced similar issues.

Best to you.

Last night I had a rapid pulse issue (AFIB) for about and hour and a half after going to bed. I had a large portion of chicken, rice and squash for dinner. One glass of wine late before bedtime. The previous two nights I had apples and yogurt for a late desert before bedtime normally 10:00pm. I feel bloated and constipated this morning. Sounds like my over eating and fruit before bedtime causes AFIB for me! Thoughts?

pottypete1 in reply to tk5518

You are probably right, I stopped alcohol a few years ago to help with my AF.

Look at the food you are eating. I found that artificial sweeteners, aspartame and sucralose, were triggers and gluten/wheat. Mine would act up every time I ate anything with these ingredients, but was always more severe after the evening meal.

I have been off of these ingredients for several years now and no more issues.

I had Afib for almost 8 months previously before a successful CV in December2019.

I have been in NSR for almost 11 months excepting 2 heartburn episodes which bought on Afib - each heartburn-episode lasted 12 hours or more. Both times I reverted back to NSR on its own. I do feel very very lucky!! But luck could and will run out so I am seriously thinking about-giving up curries chocolate and red wine and other rich foods. .

I had a heartburn episode this Saturday morning 0300hrs which set off Afib again for over 12 hours.

( Curry red wine and a bottle of Cobra night before. ) Scary times because you never do think you'll revert back to NSR and when you do you feel as if you've hit the jackpot! I don't want to take a daily tablet for heartburn because that can bring on other digestive problems. .

No more lying down after meals too and I'm drinking 1/2 litres of water per day.

I'm thinking after reading some of these posts and having gone through similar episodes after eating many of the foods late/early evening, that perhaps the contents need to be looked at a lot more closely.

Just to mention this; anything that causes the our insides to alter through stimulation, is going to affect the heart! When I say stimulation I mean; alcohol, fats, sugars and so on that need to be excluded from the last meal of the day as your/my journey for the day is coming to an end, as such we do not need energy or stimulation from certain foods/drinks. As much as fruit is considered to be good for us, they also carry in many instances hidden sugars (energy/stimulation) also chemicals that can be responsible for headaches.

A big meal can definately cause similar issues for me, espcically when reclining afterwards. I've found if I do recline, if rotate my body slightly to the right, it's better. In addition to a eating a big meal, not eating for a period can cause issues as well. I'm thinking this may be related to stomach acids in an empty stomach irritating the vagal nerve.

I do hope this was a once off, always upsetting when you have had a clear run for some time. I am really interested in knowing whether changing your eating habits will help, please let us know! Best of luck.

I do feel for you. I think many of us can still 'panic' it is enough to trigger an anxiety response. When that happens the fight or flight is taking over and we literally are not able to think as we usually do, it’s just what biologically happens. I have been getting unwanted heart rates after eating 90% at night. I really cut down on evening meal size limited carbs and increased lunch to more than a snack and now have a light snack about 4pm so I am not as hungry at dinner time. This seems to work for me. I have written down on card what I must do and remind myself that it will pass however frightening or unpleasant it feels.

I find anything with salt can trigger it or any "ready" meal, which is probably down to the salt anyway.

In haste Pete, but I put something on here about FODMAPS. Suggest Google it. It's about diet and also sugary fruits. I rarely eat fruit, but do have a banana 🍌 a day. It may give you some clues, good for a read on a wet day 🙂

I too suffer from AF should I have an evening meal. I've had to drastically change my eating habits to cope with this problem, I now have a good breakfast but no fried food then a light meal at lunchtime or in the early afternoon and don't eat anything after 6pm. If you eat sensibly you can control your AF.

Hello Pete,

OMG, I understand panic mode, I almost hold my breath in fear of requiring a cardioversion....I have had 17 in 6 years.

I just feel completely ill and discouraged. Bless you, I certainly understand. I know and identify with you 100%. I have had the evening meal trigger, I try to eat light and eat early.

pottypete1 in reply to Spoiler

I too have had a lot of cardioversions probably >20 but for me as they have always reverted me to NSR it has not specifically been my main worry.

I can't explain why I have panic attacks when I go into AF it is a very involuntary consequence. It is always the fear that I will be stuck like it despite my logical brain telling me that for over 30 years my heart has always reverted to NSR even if a cardioversion was required.

As you will have read on this thread this eat early in the day and not in the evening seems to be the best advice. I have done that for the past 2 days. I did have about 30 minutes of fast heart rate yesterday evening but no AF.

My EP has said he wants to see me to quote "you are a complex case". So I will wait and see what conclusion he comes to when I visit him.


Poor you ! I can TOTALLY sympathise ! Am lying here , 10 weeks post ablation , with zero symptoms ...... had an unexpected late meal last night & the dreaded AF is back with a vengeance ........As you say, I bet it’s the Vagus nerve !

pottypete1 in reply to Alessa69

It makes you feel like you don't want to eat doesn't it.

I think there is enough evidence on this thread to suggest that there is definitely a like between the vagal nerve and heart rhythm problems.


Absolutely sure of that . Looking back , my stuff started years ago after a skiing accident , where I got a ski pole rammed into my solar plexus area ..... probably where Vagus nerve tracks ....... It all went downhill from there , no pun intended !! 😂

You may also like...