Let’s face it, being bloated sucks! It’s uncomfortable, unpleasant and makes you feel terrible in every way! And while most of us can relate to feeling bloated every now and then, for some it is much more of a frequent issue. So let’s look at what bloating’s all about, why it happens and what we can do about it.
Bloating is a common condition that can cause discomfort and pain in the abdomen. It is characterized by a feeling of fullness, tightness, and swelling in the stomach. Bloating can occur due to a variety of reasons, including food choices, digestive issues, and lifestyle factors. Let’s dig into some of the most common causes:
1) Gas in the digestive system
This is probably the most common causes of bloating. Gas can accumulate in the stomach and intestines when we eat or drink too quickly, chew gum, drink carbonated beverages, or eat certain foods such as legumes and cruciferous veggies.
Constipation is another common cause of bloating. When your bowel movements are infrequent or hard to pass, it can cause a buildup of stool in the intestines, leading to bloating and just feeling crummy.
3) Food intolerances
Some people are intolerant to certain foods, such as dairy, gluten, or artificial sweeteners, which can lead to digestive issues, including bloating.
When we eat too much food, it can cause the stomach to expand, leading to bloating and discomfort.
5) Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disorder that can cause bloating, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel movements.
6) Hormonal changes
Some women are likely to experience bloating during their menstrual cycle due to changes in hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone.
So there are lots of things leering out there that can set us up for bloating and the associated discomfort. But the good news is, there’s plenty you can do about it! Here are my top tips to reduce and potential avoid bloating in the future:
- Eat slowly and chew your food well
Eating too quickly and not chewing your food properly can cause you to swallow air, leading to bloating. To prevent this, try to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. This will not only help to prevent bloating, but it will also aid digestion and absorption of nutrients while building your mindful eating skills- bonus!
- Avoid gas-producing foods or use an enzyme supplement when you eat them.
Certain foods can cause gas to accumulate in the digestive system, leading to bloating. These foods include beans, lentils, broccoli, cabbage, onions, and carbonated drinks. To prevent bloating, you can try to avoid or limit the consumption of these foods. However, since these are wonderfully healthy foods, if you find you are sensitive to them, try including an enzyme supplement, such as Beano, when you eat these foods.
- Drink plenty of water
Drinking enough water is essential for good digestion and can help to prevent constipation, which is a common cause of bloating. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, or enough that your pee is close to clear most of the day. This will definitely help to keep your digestive system functioning properly.
- Eat a high-fiber diet
A high-fiber diet can help to prevent constipation and bloating. Fiber helps to keep the digestive system moving by adding bulk to the stool and promoting regular bowel movements. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
- Avoid overeating
Overeating can cause the stomach to become distended and lead to bloating. To prevent this, try to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day instead of three large meals. Or work on building your intuitive eating skills by really paying attention to when you feel satiated and stop eating at this point. This will help to keep your digestive system functioning smoothly and prevent bloating.
- Exercise regularly
Regular exercise can help to improve digestion and prevent bloating. Exercise helps to stimulate the muscles in the digestive system, promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, most days of the week.
- Identify food intolerances
Some people are intolerant to certain foods, such as dairy, gluten, or artificial sweeteners, which can cause bloating. If you suspect that you have a food intolerance, try eliminating these foods from your diet and see if your symptoms improve.
- Manage stress
Stress can cause digestive issues, including bloating. To prevent bloating caused by stress, try to manage your stress levels through relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. It can also be especially helpful to make sure that you are not eating in a stressed state. So take a couple of slow, deep breaths before every meal.
While bloating is a common condition, it can also be prevented by making simple lifestyle changes. By implementing the above changes, you can prevent bloating and maintain good digestive health. If you experience persistent bloating or other digestive issues, it is important to consult your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions.