Do you ever feel a bit “overextended” in the belly after a meal? Perhaps “gassy?” Have you ever carried a “food baby?”
Bloating is common. Up to 25-30% of people experience it regularly. It happens when you have trouble digesting. The symptoms come from excess gas, reactions to foods, or food not moving through you as well as it could.
There are many reasons you might experience these symptoms. Maybe because of a serious condition or disease, or maybe from a food allergy or intolerance to what you eat. It can also result from how you eat.
If you have a serious digestive issue like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), then make sure you eat accordingly. Same goes if you know certain foods give you gas. Simply avoid them.
If you’re already doing those things, and still experience bloating, here are some great tips for dealing with it naturally.
If you overeat at a meal, then you’ll feel bigger around the mid-section. You’ll feel more pressure in your abdomen. Plus, you’re giving your digestive system a hard time. It’s better to eat until you feel almost full and not overindulge. Grab an extra snack or small meal throughout the day if you must. Just don’t over-stuff yourself in one sitting.
Avoid Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners made from sugars. In an ingredients list, they end in “-ol,” and include things like sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol. They’re found in some chewing gums and sugar-free foods. Some people experience bloating after eating foods with these. So, try avoiding them and see if that helps you.
Avoid Swallowing Air
Sometimes the gas that causes pressure in your digestive system is from swallowing air. Things like carbonated drinks are the biggest culprit here. You can also swallow air when you chew gum or drink through a straw, so try ditching these.
You can also swallow air when eating too quickly or while talking. Which leads me to…
Eat Slower, More Mindfully
Eating too fast isn’t doing your digestive system any favors. You can help the food move along by chewing it thoroughly and slowing down your eating habits. We have digestive enzymes in our saliva, specifically amylase which breaks down carbohydrates. When we eat too quickly, we not breaking down our food enough allowing it to be saturated in the enzymes to break it down fully. What happens then is that the food particles travel into your digestive system not broken down and start to ferment. The gasses from the fermentation are what creates gas. Slow things down. The next time you eat, chew your food 25 times. It will feel like mush. And it should. That is the recommended time it takes to fully break down each bite. Be mindful and enjoy the time you are spending eating your meals. Savor them.
Balance Your Plate
Our bodies require nutrients from all macronutrients to thrive. Macronutrients are proteins, carbs and fats. When we overconsume too much of one and not enough of the others, we are adding stress to our bodies. It needs the nutrient profile for all three to do its job well. By cutting out a food group we are doing a disservice to ourselves. A plate full of pasta? Bloat. A massive steak? Bloat. Even a big raw salad, Bloat. Ideally, we have a portion of protein, fat and carbs each time we eat. This doesn’t have to be elaborate. A snack of an apple with a handful of raw almonds is a simple example of macronutrient balance. Carbs from the apple, some protein and good fats from the almonds. You body is now given all the necessary tool to break foods down efficiently. This is especially true when we eat fruit or raw vegetables by itself. Some bodies do not break down raw vegetables well. It can often contribute to bloat because your body is not given the extra tools for digestion.
Drink Less at Mealtime
It has become a common habit to fix your meal, grab something to drink and sit down to enjoy them both. This habit may be contributing to the bloat. By consuming liquids at your mealtimes, you are diluting your digestive juices. They will no longer have the strength to break down the foods that you are consuming. If you need to have a drink while you eat, take little sips. Just enough to wash things down. Avoid chug-a-lugging your beverages to preserve your digestive juice powers.
This may be easier said than done but it can be a true culprit for you stomach issues.
Stress can cause increased bloating. When our bodies are under stress, especially chronic stress, our digestion shuts down. This is a survival mechanism. Your body does not see digestion as an essential mechanism for survival, so it becomes challenged leading to bloat. Your body is simply not breaking down the foods you are consuming. Stress-reducing techniques can help improve your digestion. Try meditating for a few minutes before a meal. Or simply taking 3 deep breaths before grabbing your fork. That small proactive alone can start to bring calmness to your system which will support better digestion.
Peppermint oil has been shown to improve bloating. It’s thought to increase transit time by relaxing the stomach muscles and increasing the flow of bile. Try steeping fresh peppermint leaves, or a peppermint tea bag, and drinking it slowly. See if that helps reduce your symptoms.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Consuming a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in water before a meal can help stir up our digestive juices before you eat. Sometimes our bodies ability to break down foods becomes tired. This may happen from eating large meals, stress, or from eating too much of the same thing over and over. Our digestive enzymes become depleted. Apple cider vinegar acts like a digestive enzyme and will help give your body a boost to break down foods. This is not a solution, however. It is just a tool to use in the short term to get past the bloat. Recognizing your triggers, being more mindful when you eat and managing stress need to be address as they are often the more likely cause.
If you do all of these, and still experience bloating, then you may have a food intolerance; this could be from an allergy or intolerance. If this is the case an elimination diet may be helpful to determine the culprit of your discomfort. Sound overwhelming? Not sure where to start? I can help. CLICK HERE to book a free connection call and we can devise a plan to help you get past the bloat for good.