When you’ve got the bloat, ya feel like a float. You know the drill—wearing sweatpants whenever possible, unbuttoning your waistband under the table, feeling like you just want to stay at home because you don’t feel up to going out into the world.
Being “bloated” is that overly full, gassy feeling in your tum that makes your stomach seem swollen. And while it’s not usually a sign of anything serious, it’s uncomfortable, can kill a good mood and do a number on your energy level.
There are a lot of different reasons why you might feel this way. Today, I’m going to walk you through the five most common triggers and give you strategies for blasting bloat for good. And be sure to leave your tips and questions in the comments, I wanna hear from you!
5 Reasons You’re Bloated + How to Get Relief
Reason #1: Crappy food choices.
This one’s a no-brainer. Eating fatty, fried and heavy foods makes us stay uncomfortably full longer. Plus, it takes extra gas-producing reactions in your digestive system to break down these types of foods. Sugar alcohols (such as sorbitol, xylitol and maltitol) that are found in artificially sweetened, sugar-free or “no sugar added” foods are also problematic. They can cause a great deal of gas and bloating because our bodies can’t digest them.
How to get relief:
- Choose whole foods more often and sweeten your foods naturally. Focus on whole plant foods like whole grains, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds, since they’re lighter and easier to digest. Enjoy them in smaller portions throughout the day to allow your body to get used to this shift. And on that note, follow the other tips below on easing fiber in slowly. Lastly, avoid artificially sweetened foods, and instead sweeten foods with whole or dried fruit, dates or a little maple syrup.
Reason #2: Eating too quickly and overeating at meals.
When you eat quickly, you swallow lots of air, which ends up getting trapped in your digestive system. In addition, bigger pieces of poorly chewed food land in your stomach, leaving you uncomfortable and making digestion more difficult. Overeating is also taxing on your digestive system—whether you’re eating unhealthy or healthy foods. So whether you’re eating too fast, too much or a combo of the two, you’re getting in line for gas, bloating and feeling crummy after a meal.
How to get relief:
- Slow down, partner! It sounds simple, but so many of us just need to chew more and swallow smaller bites while eating to decrease bloating. Also, having small meals more frequently throughout the day (rather than stuffing yourself because you’ve become ravenous) can help digestion tremendously. Enjoy small snacks between meals of easy-to-digest lighter foods, such as apple slices and sunflower seed butter, a green juice and a handful of pumpkin seeds or hummus and carrots.
Reason #3: Adding certain healthy foods to your diet too quickly.
Not all of us have stomachs of steel, and there are certain foods that can be especially hard to digest when they’re first introduced into your diet. While sometimes this is caused by true food allergies or intolerances (see my food allergies and intolerances blog here, plus Reason #4 below), this may just be the result of not giving your digestive system enough time to adjust. Foods that are more likely to trigger this issue include legumes, onions and cruciferous veggies because their natural sugars are difficult for your body to break down when they’re first added to your diet.
How to get relief:
- Add legumes, cruciferous veggies and onions to your diet slowly over time: If you’re new to beans and lentils, broccoli, kale and onions, start with a 1/2-cup serving every 1-2 days for a week so that your body can get used to them. Add an additional 1/2-cup serving daily for another week to help your body acclimate. The more of these foods we eat, the more efficiently our bodies create the enzymes we need to digest them. Legume tip: Stick to little guys like lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas and black beans. They tend to cause less gas and bloating compared to larger beans. Cruciferous veggies and onions tip: Choose cooked over raw at first.
- Try digestive enzymes: If you’re experiencing bloating at any time, you may need a digestive enzyme booster. Some people make too few of the important digestive enzymes, which can easily lead to chronic bloating. But even for other folks, digestive enzymes can really help prevent bloating, especially when adopting new, healthy diet changes. My favorite one is from Pure Encapsulations here.
- Take probiotics daily: Bloating and gas can be a sign of too much bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria. Eating fermented foods, such as tempeh, kombu, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchee, can help your gut stay happy and healthy. If you don’t eat these foods on a daily basis, try taking probiotics (I do, regardless of how much fermented foods I eat). My go-to brand is Dr. Ohhira’s.
Reason #4: Eating foods that trigger food sensitivities.
While you’re probably aware of your true food allergies, you may not be aware of your food sensitivities or intolerances. Figuring out which foods you may be sensitive to can help you eliminate bloating and other digestive woes. Common food sensitivity culprits include: gluten, dairy, eggs, nightshades and foods high in fructose, such as high-fructose corn syrup, raisins, honey, agave nectar, mangos, apples, pears and watermelon.
How to get relief:
- Try an elimination diet to determine the culprits. Eliminating suspect foods for 14-21 days and then adding them in one at a time can help you pinpoint which foods might be problematic. This will also help you determine which ones can stay in your everyday diet. (Read more tips in my food sensitivities blog).
- Ditch dairy: The milk sugar, lactose, is a common culprit in gassiness. Avoid dairy foods and reach for unsweetened, non-dairy milks made from almonds, hemp, flax or rice. They’re just as creamy and delicious!