Bloating. That one thing that makes you just feel yuk and keeps you from wearing that little tight dress that is snug in all the right places. But it's that big bump in your tummy that makes you look about 3 months pregnant which can stop you from whipping out that little cute number and instead opt for something that resembles a potato sack. Sound familiar?
Bloating is, unfortunately, something that is quite common, I doubt that there is a woman out there who has not experienced a bloated belly in her life. It is definitely not something that is normal, it's uncomfortable and we want it gone, yesterday!
When you are bloated it is your gut telling you that it's not happy however sometimes it can be difficult to tell figure out what exactly is making us bloated.
So why are you bloated and what are the things that can cause digestive stress?
The brutal truth
Unfortunately, I need to be the bearer of bad news, bloating is actually a health issue, which you do need to take care of. Some cases of bloating can be fixed quicker than others but some may be an underlying serious health condition. Either way, if you experience bloating frequently it is important to investigate and try to find out the underlying problem.
There are, however, a few things that you can do to help reduce your bloating. Remember, there are usually no quick fixes and it can take some time, from a few days to a few weeks or even months for more serious cases. But don’t worry there is some good news, there are definitely a few things you can do to to help reduce bloating and help eliminate the causes for you.
What may be causing your battle of the bloat?
Most people are quite aware if they feel sick after eating certain foods and know it causes them distress, but there are sometimes foods you may be intolerant too that fly under the radar. Most of us have been made familiar with usual bloating culprits such as broccoli and beans, but those that sometimes go unnoticed include dairy products, some fruit, and eggs. Lactose intolerance is something that is very common across the board and can easily be overlooked.
I personally thought I had a lactose intolerance then even after trying lactose-free products I still had issues. It turns out I had a milk protein intolerance all together which is something that is also quite common. High amounts of fructose can also be a leading culprit for gas and bloating. Fructose is generally found in fruit juices and can be used as a sweetener in some soft drinks.
The best thing to do is to keep a food dairy. Note down what you eat at each meal and how you feel after your meal and later in the day. If you have this documented, you may be bale to eliminate certain food culprits. Otherwise, you have something you may wish to take to a doctor to investigate further if you are still experiencing problems.
Some foods can be more difficult to digest than others no matter how strong or weak your gut may be.
Low enzyme production
Sometimes our tummies are bloated because you may not be producing enough enzymes to break down the food you eat. You could be eating the perfect diet for you with the most optimal food choices, however if your stomach does not produce enough enzymes, bile and HCL (hydrochloric acid) then you will have a hard time breaking down your protein, carbs, and fats effectively.
When you body can not break down your large food components guess what happens. The large unbroken down food particles make their way to the small intestine where gas, bloating, indigestion and cramping can occur because the small intestine needs its particles to be small before they pass through effectively.
You can take digestive enzymes with your meals and/or betaine HCL if you know you may be lacking these.
Ice cold beverages, especially in the warmer months can be very refreshing, but they can also be hindering your digestion and causing some intestinal distress. We tend to focus only on foods as the culprits of the boat, but what we drink and how we drink it can definitely play a role too. Drinking a refreshing cold beverage during your meal can help wash it down, however, it can also dilute and cool down your digestive system and your gastric juices that are critical for the breakdown of your food.
Try to make sure you sit on water hat is room temperature or simply not too cold close to a meal. Make sure you hydrate effectively between meals so you do not feel the need to chug down water during a meal.
Fizzy drinks are a fun little addition, and if you are sticking to the sugar-free kind it's completely fine to add in here or there speaking from a body composition perspective. However, if you experience severe bloating when you drink these then you may need to reconsider. Carbonated drinks have air bubbles which travel through the digestive system and release carbon dioxide which can prompt boating. When these are coupled with sweeteners and chemicals then you can experience a double whammy of uncomfortable bloating.
Now I’m not saying cut these out if you enjoy them. Some people can drink carbonated drinks and feel just fine. But if you feel like you are doing everything else correctly and find you only experience bloating when you drink these then it may be time to have a break and see if you feel better without them. You can try adding them back in later and see if they still affect you.
Salt is something that is 100% necessary in your diet and is utilized for many bodily functions. However, some foods can contain excess processed salt and preservative which can have an effect on your tummy. High-quality sea salt is what you want to add to your food, but you can even overdo it on the good stuff. So be mindful of how much salt you are using. Processed foods are the main culprits for hidden salt which are usually what causes excess bloating.
Stick to high-quality sea salt to add to your meals such as Himalayan sea salt. Don’t go “
If you ae anything like me then you love the feeling of a full tummy after a meal. But overeating can too, lead to bloating. Stuffing yourself with too much food or eating rather large meals can make it more difficult for digestion to occur.
Try eating smaller meals, or I find if I eat a larger meal that I ensure I leave ample time 4-5 hours between that meal and my next meal in order to allow my body to be bale to digest it properly before stuffing it with more food. Try eating to the point of being 75% full so that you feel satisfied but not stuffed to the brim of an explosion.
Something that you would not necessarily associate with bloating is extra stress in your life. But it's true that stress can have a very strong influence on how well your digestive system is working. Studies have shown a strong correlation between biological, psychological and social stress linked with gastrointestinal distress. It’s a complex process but stress can trigger or even heighten the effects of symptoms of digestive distress.
If you know me then you know I harp on about this all of the time. Make sure you schedule in some “me” RNR time where you can relax and have some fun and take the time to really de-stress. Yoga, meditation, bath time are all great options, but whatever works for you is just fine.
The main food culprits
If you are unsure of which foods are causing you distress here are some top foods that are usually the culprits:
- Beans and lentils- these contain sugars called oligosaccharides which are hard to digest for some people.
- Cruciferous vegetables – these include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower broccoli. Cooking these may make then easier to digest
- Artificial sweeteners – sorbitol, xylitol, sugar alcohols, fructose
- Dairy products – those high in lactose or milk sugars
- Wheat– gluten can cause issues in some people
- Some whole grain – certain whole grain such as barley can cause bloating due to a very high fiber content
The main thing to remember when tackling bloating is that everyone is different. If you can stomach certain foods, then there is no need to cut them out but it can be difficult to figure out which foods are causing the problems. Rather than cutting out all the possible culprits I suggest eliminating one food at a time that appears to be the suspect. Use a food diary as I mentioned before and if you symptoms continue to persist make sure you see a practitioner in order to rule out any serious issues.