Do you ever get bloated?
Now, be honest. Because the holidays are coming up, and we’ve spent at least one Thanksgiving with a swollen tummy, questioning whether we’ll ever eat again.
But maybe it’s not just a once-a-year thing for you. Maybe you struggle with bloating all the time.
I sympathize! It’s so frustrating to feel bloated. It can keep your clothes from fitting, make you lose your appetite, and leave you feeling fat instead of fit, no matter how much you work out or how clean you eat.
So what causes bloating? And more importantly, how can you beat it?
The two most common causes are food fermenting in the gut, and inflammation (often because of food sensitivities).
So when you feel like the Michelin man and aren’t sure why, here are five ways to prevent and relieve bloating:
1. Eliminate sugar and refined carbs.
Have you ever left cream on the counter, and it bubbled? That’s caused when sugars in the cream ferment and produce gas.
This also happens in your gut. When you consume too much sugar it ferments, causing gas and bloating. Refined carbohydrates like white bread, cookies, crackers, and packaged snacks all break down into sugars and ferment, as well.
Action step: Cut the sugar and chips. Instead, satisfy sweet or crunchy cravings with healthier options like fruit or nuts.
2. Skip the snacks.
I know, I know. I love snacks, too.
But grazing through the day can overload digestion. Your small intestine has a clean-up routine, a muscle movement that “sweeps” food through every 90 minutes. This process halts every time you eat.
Action step: Allow yourself four hours between eating during the day, and twelve hours overnight, for the small intestine to completely empty. This keeps food from sitting and fermenting.
3. Take a chill pill!
Have you ever wondered why you can eat something one day and be fine, yet the next day eat the same food and feel bloated?
Sometimes it’s not what you eat, but how you eat.
Digestion is a parasympathetic process – it only happens well when we’re relaxed. If we’re stressed, our body interprets it as an emergency and shuts down “optional” functions like digestion. Though different people react differently to stress, it’s a well studied fact that stress affects digestion.
It can even cause bloating
Action step: Before each meal, take a few deep breaths, say grace, and be thankful. Don’t multi-task, just enjoy your food. Let yourself r.e.l.a.x.
4. Keep things moving.
I may sound like a stuck record by now, but food that sits too long in the gut ferments, causes irritation, and creates inflammation. Anything that keeps food digesting and moving, instead of sitting and fermenting, will reduce bloating.
Exercise encourages movement and releases gas preventing and relieving bloat.
Action step: Make time for movement daily. For a routine specifically for beating tummy bloat, try this workout.
5. Rule out sensitivities.
Maybe you’ve noticed that specific foods make you feel bloated. But maybe there’s not a pattern and it’s hard to tell.
Eliminating common food sensitivities allows you to see if something’s causing a problem. The most common food sensitivities are gluten, dairy, sugar, peanuts, eggs, and soy.
Action step: If you suspect a food is causing bloat don’t eat it for three weeks. If your symptoms go away, add that food back in for one day and see if they return. If they do, you’ve found your culprit.
Let me know if you find relief from one or all of these tips!
Wishing you the best of health,