Ways to get rid of bloating

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If you have any kind of gastrointestinal ailment, you’ll be no stranger to bloating. For me, it’s just one of those things I’ve come to accept. I think there’s a genetic component perhaps – my mom has been prone to bloating her whole life, and has been diagnosed with IBS – and I started experiencing it myself several years ago.

When my ulcerative colitis was at its worst, bloating was a constant issue. As I experimented with different diets – SCD, paleo, autoimmune paleo, LCHF – it came and went, and I’ve become fairly good at knowing which foods will leave me feeling like I’ve been pumped full of air like a giant balloon.

But then there are those days when you eat all the things you usually do, you drink the same things, and you end up with a distended and uncomfortable belly.

I know what I need to do to help avoid bloating in the first place. While some of these points may differ on a case by case basis, generally it’s safe to say that to help minimise bloating, you should:

  • Avoid gas-producing foods, like certain types of fruits and vegetables (for me, onion, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini are especially bad, but mostly any veg can bloat me up)
  • Avoid gassy drinks (including sparkling water)
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid coffee
  • Avoid chewing gum and anything else with artificial sweeteners (look carefully at ‘sugar free’ or ‘dairy free’ chocolates and sweets too, as these are often made with replacement substances that can lead to gassiness and even diarrhoea)
  • Avoid dairy if you’re lactose intolerant (I am)
  • Avoid eating raw veggies. It’s harder for the body to break these down, and if your gut is already damaged, you want to give it as little work as possible
  • Avoid wearing overly-tight clothing
  • Avoid heavily processed food and/or unhealthy takeaways
  • Avoid drinking large quantities in a single go – i.e, try not to gulp down entire glasses of water
  • Be careful with foods like nuts, eggs and fruits, which can cause bloating in people who are sensitive to them
  • Take good quality probiotics

If you’ve struggled with bloating a lot and have played around with your diet to try to manage it, you may have made some surprising discoveries. For example, if I eat white bread and rice, pasta and even pizza, I experience very little bloating. I can eat plenty of junk food without ill-effect if I’m having a particularly healthy week. In fact, when I flare, I tend to live on basmati rice as it’s the only thing I can keep in.

Obviously though, one cannot live on a diet of refined carbs – particularly if one is gluten intolerant or sensitive to gluten or wheat (thankfully, I am not).

Most of us want to eat healthily, cleanly, but unfortunately it’s the healthiest of foods that often lead to uncomfortable bloating. Give me a burger, and I’ll be just fine. Give me a salad, and suddenly I look like a little Buddha. The same happens when I swallow down a whole glass of water.

So now that I’m bloated, what can I do to make it go away?

Bloating is particularly awful when you’re trying to be productive or have a good time. Ever been out partying on a bloated stomach? It’s the worst. Trying to work at your desk with your belly pressed against your keyboard? Not gonna happen. So what can you do once the bloat sets in? Here are some tips to try:

  • Unbutton your pants. Don’t fight it. Just trust me – you’ll immediately feel a whole lot better.
  • Spend some QT in the bathroom. Obviously you don’t want to force anything, but if you’re able to have a BM, you’re likely to feel a helluva lot better for it.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything for a little while. Give your tummy a chance to rest.
  • Don’t hold in your gas. Go to the bathroom or find a private place, but holding it in is only going to make you feel so much worse.
  • Drink some herbal tea. I haven’t tried this for bloating because I hate herbal tea. But if you enjoy it, give it a try. Ginger, chamomile and peppermint are particularly favoured for bloating, or you could try drinking some lemon water.
  • Get moving. Going for a brisk walk or run or doing yoga could help to ‘get things moving’ and relieve you of some of that gas. I remember many of the old ladies in my yoga class farting while stretching into their poses. Yoga is known to activate the GI system, as is running/walking. Just make sure you’re never too far from a bathroom! The idea is to get the heart pumping and the blood circulating, as this stimulates the release of gas.
  • Make sure your next meal is simple, spice-free, low in salt and won’t irritate your belly. Choose foods that you know won’t leave you bloated.

What are your best remedies for bloating? Please share 🙂

Day 73: Broccoli, bloating and 5 awesome phase 3 treats

I introduced broccoli yesterday and, as with most things I’ve introduced, I’ve followed best practices by eating it at dinner on the first night, lunch and dinner tonight, and I’ll do lunch and dinner again tomorrow.

Unbelievably, I seem (so far) to not be reacting to it. Could it be because I’m cooking it until it’s properly dead, or is it because 2 and a half months on SCD has really started to heal my gut? I like to think it’s the latter.

As for the bananas, I’ve been sticking to my limit of 2 per day, and it’s making a huge difference to my bloating. Right now, it’s 9pm and I’ve eaten all my food for the day, yet I don’t feel uncomfortable, bloated or particularly gassy. Portion control is going well too, and I think all of this is contributing to overall feelings of increased comfort.

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5 Awesome phase 3 treats

I tend to forget that  I can ‘mix and match’ the ingredients that I’ve already introduced to my diet to create some pretty amazing snacks. Here are 5 yummy things I can eat right now:

  • Banana and egg pancakes/scramble drizzled with honey

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  • Butternut roasted with garlic, tomato, onion and coriander

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  • Yogurt, banana and honey smoothie (with optional nut butter)

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  • Soups: Carrot soup made with homemade coconut milk, garlic and coriander; tomato soup with black pepper, garlic and coriander

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  • GUACAMOLE! (mashed avo mixed with garlic, tomato puree, coriander, salt and pepper). Use as a sauce with any meat – works particularly well with fish.

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There are lots more I could make based on the food I’m able to eat, so I really need to experiment a bit more. I’ve splurged on fresh stashes of macadamia butter and almond butter, with which I’ll also need to practice serious portion control. I also discovered that the shop downstairs has started selling freshly pressed apple juice! Life = made. Always such a treat when things just work out!

I’ve been thinking about buying a juicer. Anyone with IBD/IBS  have any experiences to share?

Day 72: Practicing portion control

With 18 days to go on my 90-day challenge and 28 days on my personal 100-day challenge, I’m turning my focus now to troubleshooting the elements I covered last week  – all the issues contributing to my bloating. I feel that the discomfort is my own doing and that I have to power to change this.

Here’s what I’m doing:

  • Getting back into exercise. It’s been about a month and today I picked up my dumbbells again. I can’t believe how much muscle strength one loses in a few short weeks. I think the exercise – apart from all the amazing health benefits – is also the best thing for constipation (still a frequent problem).

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  • Practicing portion control. Not my strong suit, but I’m working on it. K joked that I can have ‘lots of small portions’… but I’m not sure that’s the same thing 😉
  • Cutting back on bloating food. Okay okay, we all know I mean bananas. I’ve made a rule that I can only eat 2 a day – one after lunch (as ‘dessert’) and one as a snack when I get home from work. Honey and yogurt can be my sweet fixes.
Can totes identify

Can totes identify

  • Slowly switching supplements for real food. Now that my diet is expanding, I’m relying less on supplements and more on my food. Fibre is still a big problem: I’m terrified of it because it can aggravate a flare, but too little is not good either. I want to find something I can eat that’ll fill the gap. All suggestions welcome! Also, bear in mind that if a damaged gut can’t absorb nutrients from food, it won’t absorb them from supplements either.

This week’s new food: Broccoli

Tonight I introduced broccoli. Yes, I made an intentional ‘error’ and ate baby gem squash last night and today for lunch, and then introduced broccoli tonight, without waiting for 3 days. This is the first time I haven’t followed the 3-day rule, and I do seem to be okay but my results will be skewed if I react to either of those foods.

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K’s been nervous for me to try broccoli because she thinks I’ll definitely react to it and she’s the one who has to share a bedroom with me 😛 I’ll let you know how it goes…

 

Day 57: Food and symptoms

Today I took it very easy on my gut and didn’t introduce anything new. I also didn’t have any honey or yogurt, and I avoided all drinks besides water and one cup of weak filter coffee.

Today I’m constipated, bloated and still a bit crampy. It’s not surprising, I guess, considering the ordeal I’ve put my belly through over the past week, but it is always strange to go from crazy diarrhoea one day to constipation the next. It seems the balance eludes me for any significant period of time.

Found at sickforcute.com, where they echo the exact sentiments I had last night: 'Ever had such a bad stomach that you're convinced you have monsters in your belly? They're probably in there planning their attacks, being devious, and dancing around trying to stir up trouble. Wear this shirt to your next doctors visit and see if he can prescribe something for your bad stomach. HA!'

Found at sickforcute.com, where they echo the exact sentiments I had last night: ‘Ever had such a bad stomach that you’re convinced you have monsters in your belly? They’re probably in there planning their attacks, being devious, and dancing around trying to stir up trouble. Wear this shirt to your next doctors visit and see if he can prescribe something for your bad stomach. HA!’

Sometimes I feel like no matter what food I eat or what supplements I throw at my gut, it’s just going to do its own thing regardless, and I’m just along for the ride. I know it’s not really like that, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing SCD, but it’s just how it feels.

Selfie of me in 100 years from now, still trying to figure out why I'm bloated

Selfie of me in 100 years from now, still trying to figure out which foods are causing me to get bloated

Today I cooked up some big batches of veg – butternut, green beans, tomato and garlic sauce, gem squash and onions, which I’m testing again this week. My beautiful jar of cashew nut butter is staring at me, just waiting to be unsealed. I’m so keen to try it so I may introduce it from tomorrow. Though what I’m really needing is more sweet stuff so I can kick the bananas. They’re doing me no favours but as the only bit of sweetness in my diet, I’m struggling to give them up.

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As an interesting aside, the SCDLifestyle.com guys say that berries are well tolerated by most people with GI disease so they should be one of the first raw fruits you introduce. I’ll try to get them into my diet ASAP. Raw fruit can be introduced from phase 4.

How’s your diet going? What’s working for you and what’s gotta go?

Day 46: Dying or just… die-off?

I was so excited about reaching the half-way mark yesterday that I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer about the crappy symptoms I was experiencing. But yesterday and today have been less than perfect.

On Monday night, I started getting that weird sore/burny back-of-the-throat sensation that feels a lot like flu. When I woke up yesterday morning, my voice was croaky and my throat on fire. I thought it strange because I never get sick (not that kind of sick anyway), and there was no reason for me to be ill. I dragged myself out of bed for work, feeling a little like death.

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Then I had a brainwave: I remember reading in Surviving to Thriving that the yoghurt can cause die-off symptoms due to its powerful probiotics. I figured that that was the root of my symptoms.

I sucked on Strepsils throughout the day to ease my burning throat, though all the while I had the nagging thought that I probably shouldn’t be eating them. By the time I got home, I was as bloated as Goodyear blimp, and feeling pretty rough.

The culprit?

The culprit?

I had more yoghurt (because hey, I’m enjoying it, and still testing it), and proceeded to get more bloated as the night progressed. I also ate too much at dinner, so by bed time I was full up to my throat (that’s when the food won’t go down any further cos there’s just too much of it in your body!) and feeling very kak. That’s a lovely South African term for which there isn’t really an exact translation, but loosely speaking you could say it means ‘super shit’.

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Today I started with a clean GI slate. Awoke with no bloating, but the throat was still knifey and I still felt quite flu-ish (by the way, this also explains why I’ve been more freeeeezing than usual at work). I limited my coffee intake today, again avoided bananas, and the only thing out of the ordinary that I had, again, was Strepsils.

By 3pm, I blimpily decided that Strepsils were the culprit. I came home, ravenous, and shoved four bananas into my gullet in quick succession, figuring I was already bloated already, so what the hell. Don’t  ever do that. I know that for a lot of people like us, there’s always tendency to over-indulge. Just because food is healthy doesn’t mean that bingeing is. And it’s likely to leave you feeling quite, well, kak.

Selfie taken tonight

Selfie taken tonight

So I’ve had dinner now, and I’m SOOOO bloated. And gassy. In fact K tells me that I was super gassy in the night (cringe. Shame, poor K), so I’ve narrowed it down to the yoghurt or the bananas. Right now, my gut is probably the gassiest it’s ever been on SCD, and it’s moany, groany and whiney. Awful!

Tomorrow I’m going to avoid all foods that may even remotely not agree with me, and only have yoghurt so that I can be sure, either way. I was so good with testing for the first 40 or so days, and I’ve become a bit more slack these past few days. It wasn’t intentional; it’s just the way it’s worked out with the Strepsils, and with the yoghurt having more than one ingredient.

A few points about the yoghurt

– I’m currently on phase 2 (although all things being equal, I’ll move on to phase 3 tomorrow), and on this phase, you’re only supposed to have nut milks, and not actual pieces of nuts. My yoghurt contains ground nuts, and not just nut milk, which may be aggravating my system. Next time, I’m going to make it with nut milk instead.

– My yoghurt contains honey, which I hadn’t yet introduced.

– I may also be reacting to the cultures in the yoghurt.

– I dripped my yoghurt the other night to make it thicker, as per SCDLifestyle.com’s suggestion. It did make it thicker, but perhaps a bit too thick – even though I dripped it for less than an hour. Next time I’ll keep a closer eye on it and drip it for a bit less time, so that it doesn’t become like cement, but is no longer completely liquid either.

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So these past two days haven’t been great for my belly. I’m going to have to do some careful re-tracing of footsteps, and take things slow, so that I can return to a place of comfort. And no gas. And no bloating. Because this really sucks! UGH! I know it’s possible and luckily I know that I’ve only added two different things, so it can only be one of the two (and Strepsils aren’t permanent anyway), but it’s still frustrating. Three steps forward, one step back. That’s how it goes on SCD.