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 🙂