6 Natural Ways to Deal with Bloating
Does your belly ever feel a bit “overextended” after a meal? Have you ever felt “gassy” or “crampy?” Does the term “food baby?” have meaning in your life?
If so, then you’re one of up to 25-30% of people for whom bloating is a common occurrence. Bloating happens when you have trouble digesting or have reactions to certain types of foods, chemical additives, or even naturally occurring substances such as wheat, lactose, or gluten or can occur based on an imbalance in your body’s normal gut flora.
Symptoms can range from excess gas, to cramping, constipation to diarrhea, or all four.
While there are many reasons you might experience symptoms of bloating, some may be due to underlying conditions: An undiagnosed condition (disease), food allergy (sensitivity), intolerance (what you eat), or an imbalance in your gut flora–those tiny microorganisms which can affect mood, heart health and your immune system!
While avoiding obvious offenders might seem like a no-brainer, sometimes we can’t quite pinpoint exactly what’s causing the problem. When it comes to situations like these, food journaling can be helpful in identifying habits and behaviors that might be contributing to the problem, as well as provide a link between the foods we ingest and how our body reacts to them!
That’s right! It’s not just what you eat, it’s also how you eat can also affect bloating…
Looking for some tips to manage your symptoms of discomfort? Here are some great tips for dealing with bloating naturally:
Eat slowly: It may seem like a simple concept, but “eating slowly” is one of the foundational habits of maintaining a healthy weight and even weight-loss itself. “Mindfulness” isn’t just something practiced in Yoga or eastern philosophies, it can apply to how we eat too. The next time you sit down for a meal, turn off the T.V., put away your cell-phone or other electronic devices and focus on your meal. Notice the flavors, textures and how the food makes you feel. Savor each bite. Doing so will not only help decrease the likelihood of swallowing air (which can happen when you gulp your food), it can help you identify how a particular food affects you.
Eat until 80% full: I don’t know about you, but I grew up hearing phrases like, “Hurry up and clean your plate!” or “Eat all your dinner, there are starving children in Africa!” While I’m sure those phrases were uttered by well-intentioned family members, they go against research which supports the fact that tuning into our bodies own cues can actually keep us from overeating–and eating past the point of satiety almost always leads to feelings of discomfort and bloating. When eating meals, try implementing the 80% rule: When you reach the point in the meal that you feel 80% full, STOP, put your fork down and wait. After about 20 minutes, you may be surprised to find that you’re actually no longer hungry or that you’re pleasantly full. If so, save your left-overs if waste is a concern and leave the table. Practicing this habit can not only decrease cramping and bloating, it can help you regulate your intake–especially if overeating is something you struggle with. If you feel hungry within the next hour or two, grab a small snack that is high in fiber, or contains healthy fats. An apple and a one-ounce serving of almonds are one of my favorite “go-tos”.
Ditch the sugar alcohols: Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners made from sugars. In an ingredients list, they end in “-ol,” and include things like sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol. They’re found in some chewing gums and sugar-free foods (yogurts, crackers, salad dressings), as well as many foods, labeled “Gluten Free”. Some people are sensitive to sugar alcohols and experience bloating after eating foods with these. So, the next time you’re at the store and about to pick up your favorite brand of “sugar-free” or “gluten-free” foods, flip them over and check out the label. You might be surprised to find “sugar alcohols” lurking there!
Manage your stress: Believe it or not, food, eating habits and sensitivities aren’t the only culprits when it comes to bloating! STRESS can influence it too! When you’re feeling “stressed” or “anxious”, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. When that occurs, blood is shunted away from the stomach and to major muscle groups preparing us for “fight” or “flight”. Prolonged feelings of stress or anxiety, however, means your digestive system is affected until the stressor is relieved. If you’re eating while under constant stress, you can see how this would influence your body. Stress-reducing techniques are just one of many things you can try to help improve your digestion.
Try Peppermint: Peppermint oil has been shown to improve bloating. It’s thought to increase transit time by relaxing the stomach muscles and increasing the flow of bile. Try steeping fresh peppermint leaves, or a peppermint tea bag, and drinking it slowly. Doing so may help reduce your symptoms.
Try Probiotics: Check out my review of Just Thrive® Probiotic and Antioxidant “A probiotic is the name given to a class of “friendly bacteria” found in your intestines. Interestingly, the name is derived from both Latin and Greek, and it means “for life”. Without probiotics, the body’s complex system of digestive organs is unable to properly digest food or absorb nutrients – probiotics inhibit harmful bacteria and boost the immune system. Unfortunately, because of the toxins in our environment, the stress of our daily lives, the sterilization of our food, antibiotic use and diets high in sugar and fat, our guts are being stripped of all the good bacteria allowing the bad bacteria to take over – and disease and sickness soon follow.” Tina Anderson, Just Thrive® Probiotic
If you experience bloating after meals or notice that in addition to bloating you’re lacking energy, what you eat and how you eat may be to blame. As a Health & Wellness Coach, I work to identify common habits and behaviors that not only lead to unwanted weight gain, but hinder weight loss or blunt feelings associated with being “full of energy” or having a “zest for life!”
If you’re feeling stuck or wonder how you “got here”, click on this link to learn how I can help you get unstuck and discover how to become the BEST YOU possible!
If addressing your symptoms of bloating with the above suggestions, does NOT provide you with relief, you may have a food intolerance or other condition which requires the help of a doctor. Only your Physician can rule out a more serious disease.
Founder and Creator of Fitness MOMents® LLC