Rice. it gets me all choked up!
July 14, 2006 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Can someone explain the seemingly common phenomenon that your throat feels weird when you eat rice too quickly?

I know this is not an uncommon occurrence because a number of my friends have described the same thing.

What happens is when I eat rice too quickly or too much at one time, my throat feels almost like it's tightening or closing up. I can breathe fine and it only lasts for about 10 seconds, but I find it quite annoying. I'm pretty sure it's not an allergy, because it doesn't occur when I eat other rice products.

Can anyone give a explanation on what causes this and if there's ways to prevent it (besides not eating rice!). It's not something I'm desperate to rid myself of, it's just annoying when it happens.
posted by beammeup4 to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
I don't know what it is, but I feel it too, sometimes as far down as my sternum. Are muscles contracting to force the mass of rice into a more esophagus-friendly shape?
posted by saffron at 2:42 PM on July 14, 2006

posted by peep at 2:56 PM on July 14, 2006

Previously has nothing to do with this.

Rice continues to expand in the human body, plus it leeches liquid from the lining of the throat and esophagus. I put some oil in with the rice after the water has boiled down. This helps tons.
posted by parmanparman at 3:18 PM on July 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

I disagree parmanparman. I think previously is the same question. This has nothing to do with rice in general. I've never gotten this sensation from rice, but I get it on very rare occasions, and I remember when I was in elementary school getting it all the time when I ate Hostess crumbcakes. For a few seconds you feel like your throat is blocked despite it not actually being blocked. It tended to happen when I ate too quickly. Sorry, no explanations.
posted by ShooBoo at 3:35 PM on July 14, 2006

"I'm pretty sure it's not an allergy, because it doesn't occur when I eat other rice products."

I was about to suggest allergy, I have the same thing when I eat any fleshy-fruit products (apples, pears, etc).
posted by datacenter refugee at 3:42 PM on July 14, 2006

I get this too. I always assumed I was eating like a glutton an d it didn't settle right.
posted by stormygrey at 3:55 PM on July 14, 2006

What stormygrey said. I think it is getting hung up in your esophagus, past the eppiglotis, where it cant interfere with your breathing.
posted by Good Brain at 4:04 PM on July 14, 2006

If you swallow a fish bone it can scratch your throat and make it feel like the bone is still lodged there when it isn't. Maybe eating too much rice in one go mildly scratches/irritates your throat and gives you the sensations you describe.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:08 PM on July 14, 2006

yeah, now that I think of it, same thing happened when I ate chicken nuggets back in my elementary school days.

thanks so far for trying, guys, but this mystery still remains unsolved.
posted by beammeup4 at 4:15 PM on July 14, 2006

I get this with mashed potato. (If I eat it too quickly.)
posted by Mwongozi at 4:16 PM on July 14, 2006

The exact same thing happens to me if I eat things like rice, bread, or potatos (fries, mashed potatos, etc.) Oftentimes it gives me the hiccups too, for whatever reason - does the same thing happen to you?
So yeah, the best I can figure is that it might have something to do with starch or something like that.
posted by flod logic at 4:54 PM on July 14, 2006

Does this sensation go away if you take a large drink of something?
posted by trevyn at 5:50 PM on July 14, 2006

Rice continues to expand in the human body, plus it leeches liquid from the lining of the throat and esophagus.

This doesn't stand up. Although, yes rice can expand it doesn't happen fast enough to effect your swallowing, nor would it have enough time to leach liquid from your throat.

It sounds to me like you just have too large a glob of food going down your esophagus and it is sticking a bit or the pressure is making you feel like you are choking a bit.

I don't think this is necessarily associated with acid reflux, although there are similar symptoms.

You can get this same feeling by eating a big chunk of soft bread (hamburger bun, donut, etc.) and not chewing it enough. Rice clumps to itself very nicely and can go down in a lump larger than you are used to.

parmanparman suggestion of adding oil to the rice is likely keeping the "clumping" to a minimum and also lubricating the journey down the throat.

So, to avoid, I would suggest you take smaller bites of rice and/or chew better. See if that helps. I hope it does because that feeling sucks.
posted by qwip at 6:17 PM on July 14, 2006

I always called this "French Fry Throat" and I get it all the time. and yes it does go away if you drink something, but you have to work at it.
posted by Brainy at 8:03 PM on July 14, 2006

I get it when I eat french fries, too. They have to be rather thick ones, like decent-sized and perhaps slightly undercooked crinkle fries (mmmm, crinkle fries) -- I think it's a potato thing. Haven't noticed it with rice, but then again I don't eat rice too often.

I think it's probably just the food getting stuck in your esophagus for a moment, like Good Brain theorized.
posted by neckro23 at 11:16 PM on July 14, 2006

I get this when I'm eating peanut-butter-y things, and occasionally other stuff with a similar consistency, though I don't think it's ever happened to me with rice. I've always assumed that my throat muscles get confused and don't peristalsize correctly (yeah, that's probably not a word) and the bolus gets stuck in my craw for a little bit. It only seems to happen when I just start eating, not in the middle of a meal.
posted by hattifattener at 11:24 PM on July 14, 2006

Rice as you eat it is a multitude of small grains. occasionally, one will stick to your throat and trigger a mild gag reflex.
posted by sourwookie at 12:08 AM on July 15, 2006

Oh yes, I've had this sort of thing. It particularly happens with thick things like cake, or anything particularly solid and particularly pasty. It just sits there for a while, then you suddenly feel it move and everything's okay.

Memorably I once had it happen with a mouthful of milk. It went most of the way down, stopped, then some of it kind of squirted back up. It wasn't unpleasant like regurgitation, it was just odd. It was really like whatever muscle is at the joining of the oesophagus and stomach refuses to open up briefly.
posted by tomble at 1:24 AM on July 15, 2006

It happens to me when I eat bread too fast...
posted by matty at 9:54 AM on July 15, 2006

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