Ah the dreaded bloated belly. We get it, you’re tired of undoing the top button of your pants every time you have a big meal, you’re literally sick of feeling sick and heavy after eating. It’s about time you had some sure-fire healthy ways to reduce bloating when it arises.
Everyone has experienced bloating at least once before, and it can make you feel self-conscious, or even embarrassed by your eating habits. It’s important to understand why you feel so rough after meals, and how to get rid of bloating fast. If you’re ready to learn what is causing your cramps and what habits you need to change to fix it, read on for our 10 ways to reduce bloating.
What is Bloating?
Bloating is most commonly caused by an excess of gas production, causing disturbances to the muscle movements of the digestive system. Too much gas and broken down foods in your system causes your stomach to expand, giving you that swollen and sometimes painful bloating experience. Over-eating and intolerances to certain foods can also lead to a bloated stomach, with the latter being due to stomach bacteria reacting funnily to a certain food or drink.
It’s very common for people to feel bloated, whether it be from overeating or an intolerance to certain foods or drinks, and it’s nothing to feel embarrassed about.
How to Get Rid of Bloating
Learning effective ways to reduce bloating can result in happier times eating, and less self-consciousness if bloating does occur. For 10 ways to reduce bloating, read on, and thank us later.
1. Don’t Eat Too Much at a Time
Picture this, you’re at your family Christmas dinner or lunch, your Dad’s just revealed the mouth-watering glazed ham to oo’s and ah’s from the family, your Aunt’s carving the Christmas turkey, and Nan’s pulled out homemade cheesecake for dessert. Now we know, you’re going to want to (scratch that, you just have to) try it all, but the amount of food you’re eating may be what causes your bloating. Eating less, however, doesn’t mean sacrificing the Christmas turkey, or hurting dear old Nan’s feelings by not having any of her homemade cheesecake.
To prevent over-eating, and in turn, bloating, you should be practising portion control. Portion control means having little bits of everything rather than an excess of each dish. Through portion control, you can still try everything on offer, but in smaller portions that you can eat until you’re satisfied rather than when you’re full and bloated. What can also be helpful when it comes to overeating is sitting and waiting a few minutes before plating up a second serving or ordering that side of chips. By allowing your stomach to digest, you may find that your first serving was just what you needed to leave you feeling satisfied. Those few minutes of waiting can make a world of difference to reduce and even prevent bloating.
2. Eat Slower
Along with the portion controlling is the suggestion of eating slower. When you’re eating your food like somebody’s going to take it away at any minute, you tend to take in a lot more air. This excess air adds to the already excess gases in your stomach and will make you feel bloated and gassy. To reduce this bloating, chew on your food for longer. This will not only make you eat slower but will also mean that less air is swallowed as you eat. With this slower eating habit, you can even take the time to enjoy the flavours of your meal. Who knows, you may notice something you’ve never picked up before in a dish that you really like.
3. Check For Any Food Allergies and/or Intolerances
Allergies and intolerances aren’t always something that people are aware of. In fact, they can evolve and become more prevalent as you age, and although not as severe as a peanut allergy or lactose intolerance can be, an unrecognised allergy or intolerance can cause mayhem to your body and its digestive system. Food intolerances are very common and can include lactose (found in dairy), fructose (found in fruit), eggs (found in chickens, eaten separately), wheat and gluten (in almost everything).
If gluten is the thing causing you trouble, you’re in luck, as restaurants and food manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of gluten intolerance and are providing a wide range of gluten-free options as part of their menu and range of stock. You can see your doctor for more information on allergies and intolerances, and to determine if you may have one.
4. Avoid Swallowing Air and Gases
As mentioned earlier, swallowing excess air is a leading cause of bloating for many people. What can also add to these excess gases in the system are carbonated drinks, ranging from soft drinks to alcoholic beverages. If soft drinks are causing you to bloat, try swapping them out for water or juice. As for alcohol, non-sparkling wines and spirits without post-mix can also be swapped in for carbonated alcoholic beverages to prevent bloating.
The second worst offender for excess air and gases is chewing gum. As the name suggests, chewing gum encourages chewing, which without swallowing increases the air going into your system and affecting your digestive system. So, if it’s fresh breath you’re looking for, try a mouthwash or an oral strip instead.
5. Don’t Eat Foods That Give You Gas
If a certain food you’re eating is giving you gas, you should do your best to avoid that food. Whether you know about your intolerance or not, it’s best to avoid these foods if you’re trying not to trigger bloating and discomfort. Apart from these known allergies and intolerances, there are foods that can trigger gases just through consumption. Cabbage, falafel and the musical fruit that makes you toot (beans) are just a few of these foods that you may want to start avoiding.
6. Try a Low-FODMAP Diet
FODMAP, standing for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols, represent carbohydrates that aren’t absorbed as well by the digestive system. Fatty foods are high in these carbohydrates, meaning that they take longer to breakdown, and will leave you feeling bloated and gassy while they do. By avoiding these foods and replacing them with healthier alternatives, you are actively replacing what causes bloating in the stomach. A Low-FODMAP diet can reduce these fatty foods you consume, leaving you feeling lighter and happier in the long run.
7. Be Careful With Sugar Alcohols
By sugar alcohols, we’re not referring to margaritas or vodka cruisers. Sugar alcohols can be found in sugar-free gums or foods, acting as a supplement for traditional sugars. While these alternatives to sugar minimise your sugar intake, they aren’t good for your digestive systems, and can produce excess gases in your stomach. Therefore, where possible it is best to avoid foods with these sugar alcohols.
8. Try Some Digestive Enzyme Supplements
If none of the actions above have helped with your bloating, you can try digestive enzyme supplements. These over the counter supplements can help to ease bloating and the associated pains. If you’re unsure what supplement will work best for you, as your local chemist when purchasing the product.
9. Take Probiotics
To prevent the bacteria in the stomach from creating excess gases, which can cause bloating, you can take probiotics. Similarly available over the counter, it is important to note that probiotics are for reducing the gases made by the stomach, not to prevent bloating, so overeating, allergies and intolerances will still lead to bloating and any related pains.
10. See a Doctor
Finally, for our list of the 10 ways to reduce bloating, we recommend that if none of the above advice has helped you manage and reduce your bloating you see a doctor. This will hopefully deduce if your bloating is being caused by a more serious issue, and what actions will need to be taken moving forward.
What causes bloating in the stomach?
Fast eating, over eating, excess intake of air, allergies and intolerances can cause bloating in the stomach.
How to stop bloating?
Slow down when eating meals, practice portion control and if necessary take digestive enzyme supplements.
What's making me bloated?
There are many factors that could be causing your bloating, such as allergies, intolerances, fast eating, over eating and excess air intake.