There are many possible reasons for why you may be feeling bloated and there are just as many possible solutions. We are going to dive into the most common causes of bloating and the tricks that tend to work for 90% of the population. Keep in mind that not one specific thing will work for everyone, so give a few tactics a try and find out what works best for you.
Bloating is an excessive buildup of gas, swelling or an increase in diameter of the abdominal area. You may notice a feeling of tightness or fullness in the stomach. In some cases, you may also notice abdominal pressure, mild discomfort, or a gurgling sound.
If there is a spike in the scale or your clothing suddenly fits tighter, you are likely bloated. It is important to remember that an overnight or sudden onset of a distended, full stomach is not fat gain. Give yourself time (2-36 hours), use the tips, and things will get back to normal.
1 – Eating too much, too fast
If you’re usually the first person done the meal or eat your meals quickly, then you are likely experiencing volume bloating. In this case, your stomach has grown rapidly in size due to the volume of and speed at which you consumed your food. If your stomach is feeling distended, don’t worry. This bloating will disappear over the next 1 – 4 hours as the food digests and exits your stomach.
Try: Eat slowly and mindfully. Slow your eating by pacing yourself with the slowest eater at the table. Remember to turn off the TV and avoid distractions while eating.
2 – Slow Digesting Foods
Bacon, fast-food, cheese, nuts, fatty fish, beans, and similar food, take a longer time to digest than others. They make their way through your digestive tract at a much slower rate, which could explain why you’re feeling heavier or bloated 1 – 24 hours after eating them. Give your body time to digest and stay on track with your nutrition plan.
Try: If you think you’re eating a lot of slow-digesting foods, reduce your intake. Have them only once per day or once every 2 days. As a bonus, drink warm water to assist with digestion.
3 – Gas Inducing Foods
Your body naturally produces gas when food is digested. This can become an issue if gas doesn’t move through the digestive tract or if an excess amount is produced. Foods commonly associated with bloating are beans and lentils, sweeteners (ie. stevia and sorbitol – commonly found in “diet” products), some dairy products, carbonated drinks, wheat, and raw cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.).
Try: Every person is unique. Foods that make you bloat, might not have the same effect on your friend. Track what foods you’re eating to discover which ones trigger your bloating. Once you’ve discovered the culprit, you can either anticipate future bloating or avoid the food. Cook or steam your cruciferous vegetables to ease digestion and still receive the essential vitamins and nutrients. As a bonus, take digestive enzymes prior to eating these foods to assist with digestion.
4 – Sodium (Salt)
Highly processed foods such as chips or fast food are packed with of salt. While we already know that too much salt/sodium isn’t great for our heart health, it also causes us to hold onto more water than normal resulting in water-retention bloating or “feeling fluffy”.
Your fix: Drink more water. The more hydrated you are the sooner you can get back to normal.
5 – Eating a Late Dinner
Waking up in the morning with a full belly is not great for the ego. You may start to think you’ve gained an inch on your midsection overnight, but know that it’s impossible for someone to gain fat that quickly. If you are a late-night eater, it is likely that some of the food from dinner is still being digested and making its way through your body. To avoid this type of bloating, eat earlier in the evening.
Your fix: Digestion takes time so the only thing to do is wait. Give yourself grace and be patient because it will go away with time.
6 – Alcohol
Your chances for bloating are doubled if you drink alcohol, as it 1) dehydrates you, and 2) is typically carbonated, which both produce bloating symptoms. Your body will go into “survival mode” and store as much water as possible. Since alcohol is a diuretic, most of your water will be eliminated through pee, leaving you in a dehydrated state.
Try: Have 1 glass of water for every glass of alcohol and avoid carbonated beverages.
7 – Hormone Changes in Women
Many women will experience intense bloating right before or in the first few days of their period. This is due to a rise in estrogen levels. The naturally high levels of this hormone can cause constipation and fluid retention, leaving you with a distended stomach and a feeling of heaviness.
Try: The best things you can do is to drink enough water and move your body. While this may not eliminate bloating instantly, it will help to gently release gas and assist with digestion.
NOTE: If you experience chronic bloating, please speak to your doctor to rule out any digestive or health issues.