Not too long after a meal, I occasionally find myself bloated, gassy and holding my ‘food baby’. Am I legitimately concerned? Not really, it’s a sign that my stomach and intestines are doing their job. According to a recent study, about 10 to 30% of healthy people, without any gastrointestinal issues experience regular bloating after eating.
But bloating is still pretty uncomfortable, so I’ve listed 5 likely reasons for your gassy troubles with easy hacks to prevent or get rid of the bloated belly.
Bye-bye belly bloating
1. Slow down with stuffing your face
My bloating usually happens right after lunch at work. Sometimes I can’t help hurrying a meal when I have time-constraints. But wolfing down food, means you’re not chewing well and you’re swallowing a lot of air too. Trapped air in your belly plus large undigested food in your gut is the perfect combination to create a ballooned belly. Protect your meal time – set aside a half hour block for mindful eating and socialization. Have a conversation with your coworkers, friends, or family between bites (don’t talk and eat at the same time) and eat slowly. Chew well and take time between bites to digest.
2. Ditch straws and avoid soda, especially diet soda
To reduce excess swallowed air that can cause gas and bloating, avoid carbonated beverages such as sodas and beer, and avoid drinking with straws. Diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners which can cause digestive issues such as gas, bloating and even diarrhea in some people. Your systems take a long time to digest them well, and sometimes doesn’t digest them at all. Some people can tolerate a moderate amount of sugar alcohols, while others experience gas or other side effects with small amounts. Ditching drinking straws not only helps your gut, but also the environment.
3. Pay attention to the foods you eat and how they make you feelFoods high in fiber can often cause bloating and gassiness, if you’re not used to eating them regularly. The good news is that eating these foods frequently can result in better tolerance, better health and less bloating and gas. Raw, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, onions), fruits like apricots, apples, peaches, pears, and prunes, beans and lentils, and certain whole grains contain carbohydrates that tend to ingestible. Try cooking your veggies to help soften the fibre. If beans are the issue, an over-the-counter anti-gas product such as Beano helps with digestions and prevents bloating. When adding high fiber foods to the diet, do so gradually to allow the body time to adjust. Other foods that may cause bloating and gassiness include greasy, fatty foods, dairy products and foods high in sodium/salt.
4. Is your diet high in salt? When you eat too much salt, it causes your body to retain water to dilute the excess sodium. To improve the balance, you need to flush out the extra sodium by drinking more water. Though, the best way to prevent bloating is to limit salt in your diet. Foods that are high in sodium include: processed meats, some canned foods, cheeses, breads, cereals, sauces, pickled foods, commercial rice or pasta mixes and condiments.
5. Skip the gum and hard candy
Chewing gum and sucking on candy causes your stomach to ready itself for food and you swallow more often than normal. When food doesn’t enter your stomach, gas is created. If you decide to chew gum, chew with your mouth closed so that you’re not taking in excess air.
If you have persistent bloating regardless of what you eat, or if you have other symptoms beyond just bloating (like diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and/or increased flatulence), then you should probably see a doctor.