BEAT THE BLOAT!

Being bloated feels more than just uncomfortable—it can be embarrassing and frustrating enough to mess with your day. 

Bloating, of course, is a (hopefully temporary) condition where your abdomen looks and feels swollen or distended. It’s most common after eating and is typically caused by excess gas or other digestive issues. Sometimes it’s something more obvious, like eating or drinking too much too fast. But if you suffer from frequent stomach discomfort and pressure, it quite possibly is related to your diet. Identifying problem foods is the first step to managing your symptoms. The next step is figuring out what TO eat and do in order to minimize and eliminate the belly bloat.

Read on to see if one or more of these foods may be the culprit in your battle against the bloat.

Beans

Beans, beans, so good for your heart, and the rest of you… unless of course they’re causing bloating. These fiber-rich legumes belong to a group of carb foods called FODMAPs, or fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. Generally health-supporting, FODMAPs have been identified as potential problem foods for people at risk for irritable bowel syndrome. These foods contain short chain carbs that escape digestion and are fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. Gas is a byproduct of this process, as is stomach distention and bloating.

But beans are an excellent source of plant protein, slow-release carbs, fiber, and a slew of protective micronutrients like iron and calcium. They’re also dirt cheap and a staple in delicious ethnic dishes like hummus, Mexican burritos, lentil soup, and curried chickpeas. 

lentil soup

Fortunately, you can still enjoy beans. One solution is using a product like Beano, which is made up of digestive enzymes that break down the culprit carbs into more easily digestible sugars. You need just one drop or tab before eating. Another strategy is to cook beans well and rinse them often during the cooking process. Finally, drink plenty of water, which helps with digestion. 

get results today

Carbonated Beverages

These fizzy drinks contain carbon dioxide, a gas that can lead to bloating and stomach irritation. When you drink carbonated beverages, you are swallowing all those tiny bubbles too, and all that gas adds up and can get trapped in your digestive system, leading to bloating and even cramping.

Still want to enjoy these drinks? Flatten it but stirring out some of the bubbles first. Try taking smaller sips and swallows. Drink slowly. And go for a walk afterwards. A chewable calcium supplement afterwards might help break down that gas as well.

fizzy drinks

Wheat

Wheat is a problem for some people, and it’s usually due to gluten, the main protein found in wheat. Not everyone is gluten-sensitive, but those who are may experience bloating, gas, diarrhea, and pain after they eat wheat-containing foods. 

If you suspect that you’re sensitive to wheat, try eliminating all sources from your diet for a week and see if you feel better. Anything with flour (unless labeled “gluten free”) should be eliminated. Ingredient lists on food labels will state “contains wheat” if the product has wheat.

Dairy

75% of people are unable to digest the sugar lactose, found exclusively in dairy (more specifically, in the breast milk of all mammals, including humans). In fact, most humans stop producing the enzyme necessary to break down milk sugars after the age of 3, which makes sense because as they start to consume solid foods, babies eventually stop depending on the breast for nutrition. Stomach bloating, gas, heartburn, and diarrhea are common with milk consumption in adulthood.

If you suspect dairy is a problem, eliminate it entirely for a week. If you feel better, you might find that some forms of dairy are well-tolerated. Yogurt and low-lactose cheeses are often better tolerated than other forms of dairy. If you miss milk, try lactose free varieties. Better yet, use plant-based milk alternatives.

Cruciferous Veggies

This class of vegetables includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts, and are some of the healthiest foods on the planet! The bloating and gas associated with these veggies may have to so with the fructans and raffinose (specific types of storage carbohydrates in some veggies) that are difficult for the GI tract to break down.

If these veggies are the problem, you can try a BEANO type product to see if this helps. If you react to raw cabbage and kale and broccoli, try cooking them. Finally, substitute other vegetables in their place to see if this helps. Asparagus is known to fight bloat – give it a try! 

cruciferous veggies

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is relatively high in fructose, a natural sugar that can be difficult to digest. The fructose can ferment in the stomach, leading to bloating and gas; opt for fresh fruit, epically berries, which are lower in fructose. The fiber in dried fruit (which you get a lot of at once without the usual fluid load you’d get with the fresh fruit) may also be responsible for belly bloating. 

Lay off the raisins and dates to see if that helps. Use smaller quantities of dried fruits, and enjoy fresh fruit more often. A probiotic supplement can help restore the good bacteria in your colon, enhancing the digestion of fructose and other problematic ingredients.

Sugarless Gum

Sugar free gums typically contain sugar alcohols (the names end in “-ol” like sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol) that are known to cause digestive distress, especially in large quantities. These sugar alcohols reach the large intestine unchanged, where the gut bacteria feed on them. This can lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

Try eliminating sugar alcohols from your diet. (You’ll also find them in sugar free candies, certain nutrition bars, and some fitness beverages. Check food labels. 

Beer

We already mentioned carbonated beverages, but beer deserves its own mention because not only is it carbonated, but it also contains fermentable carbs and yeast, all of which may lead to abdominal discomfort. They don’t call it a beer belly for nothing.

If you want a grown up beverage, try wine or liquor with non-carbonated, no sugar mixers.

squat challenge

Coconut Milk

Some canned coconut milks contain the thickening agent carrageenan, which is derived from seaweed. Consuming carrageenan may lead to gastrointestinal issues. Check labels for this ingredient.

Canned Soup

Canned soups generally contain high levels of sodium, which can lead to water retention and temporary bloating. Opt for lower sodium soupsor add water to your soup to reduce the sodium levels. Better yet, make your own low-sodium soup.

Other high-sodium foods include cheese, salty snacks, and condiments. Try a low-sodium diet for a few days to see if this resolves the issue. Read labels and keep your intake to less than 2000 milligrams.

Things other than foods can lead to bloating. Time of the month for women, food allergies and intolerances, eating too fast, eating too much, medication side effects, lack of exercise, constipation, being overweight, swallowing excess air, water retention, pregnancy, and an underlying medical condition (like irritable bowel syndrome) are all common culprits. We recommend working with a certified nutrition pro to identify and manage bloating.

get 10% off today

 

by Brianna Diorio

SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTERGet our 7 Day Head Start E-book for FREE!