Feeling bloated after eating is uncomfortable and can be embarrassing. Thankfully, you can do a few things to help reduce the bloating and get on with your day. From following a low-FODMAP meal plan to avoiding carbonated beverages, here are some tips to help you reduce bloating after you eat.
1) Avoid Trigger Foods
As we age and our digestive systems change, certain foods can become triggers for bloating. Common culprits include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, beans, lentils and dairy products. For some, gluten intolerance or celiac disease can set in. And still, others might develop leaky gut syndrome.
If you’re frequently bloated after eating, take a closer look at your diet and eliminate any trigger foods that may be causing the problem. You can do this by keeping a simple food diary on your phone or old school with a small notebook.
2) Follow a Diet That Works for You
Once you know your food triggers, you can develop a diet that works for you or follow one that’s already set, like the low-FODMAP diet.
You might be wondering what FODMAP is and how can it help with bloating? FODMAPs are carbohydrates found in many common foods, such as wheat, onions, garlic and dairy products. These carbohydrates can be difficult to digest for people with sensitive stomachs and cause bloating. The low-FODMAP diet, developed by experts at Monash University in Australia, eliminates or dramatically reduces your intake of these carbohydrates.
Other popular diets that help people either identify, eliminate or manage their food triggers include:
- Paleo Diet – The inspiration for this diet is based on the idea that modern humans should consume foods similar to those eaten by our Paleolithic ancestors.
- Whole 30 – This diet is based on the belief that by eliminating certain foods from your diet for 30 days, you can identify which foods are causing problems.
- Mediterranean Diet – This top-ranked diet is based on the belief that eating foods like olive oil, fish and vegetables can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve digestion.
3) Eat Small
Research shows that portion sizes in the U.S. — both when eating out and at home — have increased significantly over the years. And, not surprisingly, so has the rate of obesity.
Eating large meals can overload your digestive system and cause bloating. If you’re prone to bloating, stick to smaller meals and snacks throughout the day. Not only will this help with your digestion, but it can also help with weight loss.
4) Avoid Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated beverages are a common trigger for bloating. This is because the carbonation in these drinks can cause the stomach to distend and fill with air, leading to bloating.
Sugar-filled sodas are also a problem because they can contribute to weight gain and worsen bloating symptoms. But even carbonated water can be a trigger for some people. So be mindful of how you feel after drinking carbonated beverages and eliminate them from your diet if they cause bloating.
5) Slow Down When You Eat
If you constantly eat on the go or wolf down your food, you’re more likely to experience bloating. This is because when you eat quickly, you tend to swallow a lot of air and not chew properly. Both of these are problems for people with sensitive stomachs.
To help with bloating, slow down when you eat and take the time to chew your food correctly. This will help your body better digest the food and reduce the air you swallow. If you find it challenging to slow down, try putting your fork down between bites or setting a timer for 20 minutes and eating at a leisurely pace. Make time in your day for snacks and meals — and don’t give in to the temptation to eat on the go.
6) Develop Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Healthy lifestyle habits like being active, staying hydrated and sleeping properly will help your digestive system function properly and reduce the risk of bloating.
Exercise helps tone the muscles around the organs in your digestive system, making them stronger and more resilient. In addition, you’ll be less likely to experience physical pain from stretching or bloating if your muscles are toned.
Staying hydrated is also essential for the proper function of your digestive system. Drinking enough water will keep things moving along and help prevent constipation, which can lead to bloating.
Finally, getting enough sleep is essential for a healthy digestive system. When well-rested, your body can better focus on digesting food and eliminating waste.
7) Manage Stress
Stress is a common trigger for digestive issues that can result in bloating. Chronic or acute stress may lead to muscle tension and changes in hormone levels. When anxious, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which can have an impact on your digestive system. This can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, constipation and bloating.
To help reduce stress, try to get regular exercise, spend time with friends and family and take some time for yourself each day to relax. Consider trying meditation or yoga to help you manage stress.
8) Don’t Overdo It on the Fiber
Fiber is integral to a healthy diet, but too much fiber can lead to bloating. But when you eat a lot of fiber, it might not be broken down and digested properly. This can cause gas and bloat.
If you’re trying to increase your fiber intake, do so gradually to give your body time to adjust. And be sure to drink plenty of water when you increase your fiber intake. Water will help to soften the fiber and make it easier to digest.
9) Avoid Tight Clothing
Tight clothing can put pressure on your stomach and contribute to bloating. If you’re prone to bloating, avoid tight-fitting clothes, especially around the waist. Instead, opt for clothing that is loose and comfortable.
Focus on Prevention Rather Than Treatment
You probably noticed that our focus was on prevention rather than treatment. That’s because it’s always better to prevent bloating in the first place rather than trying to treat it after the fact. While some treatments can help reduce bloating, such as probiotics and digestive enzymes, they don’t always work for everyone. You’re better off developing a good defense, such as signing up for a low-FODMAP meal delivery service or getting food intolerance tests done to identify your triggers. Once you know what foods to avoid, you can take steps to prevent bloating before it happens.
If you are struggling with bloating after meals, we feel for you. Bloating is not only uncomfortable, but it can also be embarrassing. We hope these tips will help you reduce or eliminate your bloating so you can enjoy your meals again.