As I uncomfortably maneuver my way into a chair, groaning while holding my distended stomach, you would be forgiven for thinking I was expecting. However, what looks like a cute little baby bump is actually a painful case of belly bloat.
You’ve felt it. Your tummy feels solid to the touch, impossibly full (a little painful, even), and the thought of moving anywhere fast—or even slow—is as stressful as the pressure in your gut.
Find the Culprit
Most people feel bloated after a big meal. But this isn’t the only reason you might feel (and look) a little puffy. Bloating can be caused by:
- Excess amounts of solids, liquids, or gases in your digestive system
- Food sensitivity
- In rare cases, you may have a medical condition
Most of the time, we’re partly responsible for our bloating—which is good news! There are steps you can take to ease the pressure. Here are some tried-and-true ways to help reduce feelings of fullness and banish those belly pains.
Identify Food Intolerances
You don’t have to have a food allergy for an ingredient to trigger a reaction. Food intolerances and food sensitivities can cause bloating and excess gas production with no other signs. Some of the most common causes of food intolerance include wheat and gluten, eggs, lactose, and fructose.
If you experience persistent bloating, start a food diary. Note the days you feel bloated and uncomfortable and see if there’s a pattern. You can also visit a dietician to test for food allergies.
Check Your Eating Habits
How you eat is just as important as what you eat. Often, people who feel bloated aren’t bloated at all—they’ve simply overeaten. Try switching up your feeding pattern by breaking your meals into lesser portions and using a smaller plate. For example, eat five small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones. And since swallowed air can contribute to post-meal pain, chew each bite longer to help reduce the amount of air you ingest—you’ll enjoy all the flavours more, too.
Add Digestive Support
We all need a little support now and then, and your stomach is no exception. Digestive enzymes help break down macronutrients into digestible molecules, which can ease the stress on your digestive system and reduces bloat.
Consider a probiotic. Your gut contains between 300 and 500 different types of bacteria, and probiotics help balance the bacteria in your stomach to scale down gas production. But remember, no two bodies are alike. Probiotics work better for some than others—it all depends on what’s happening in your insides.
Ditch the Soda
The carbon dioxide that makes your favourite beverages fizz does the same to your insides—the excess gas (not to mention the artificial sweeteners and sugars) can cause stomach bloating and bubbling. Switch your CO2 for H2O—your body will thank you.
We’ve all been there. Past the point of hunger and on to “starving.” When you do finally get your hands on some food, you wolf it down. Eating too quickly causes you to swallow far more air than when you eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Take your time. Enjoy your meal and savour each delicious bite. You’ll love how good you’ll feel afterwards.
Easy on the Fructose
Sugar is a treat to be consumed in moderation—yes, we know. And some sugars are bloat culprits more than others. For instance, fructose is harder for your body to break down, which can cause painful gas and bloating. If you notice bloating symptoms after eating high-fructose foods like dried fruit, corn syrup, onions, or garlic, try eliminating them from your diet and see how you get on.
Beat the Bloat
It can take time for your belly to adjust to change. As you introduce new foods and create long-term habits, all that gut goodness may cause bloat in the short term. Here are a few helpful tips to alleviate belly bloat:
- Sip peppermint tea, or try a peppermint oil capsule
- Go for a walk
- Take a warm bath
- Massage your stomach
- Try a gas relief tablet
- Practice yoga
- Place a hot-water bottle on your stomach
A bloated stomach can ruin your day—but it doesn’t have to. Practice these tips, and before you know it, you’ll be less bouncy-ball belly and more bounce-in-your-step fabulous.
What are your favourite ways to beat the bloat? Let us know below.