Bloating is the condition of your belly feeling swollen after eating. It is usually caused by excess gas production, and/or disturbances in the movement of the muscles of the digestive system. This can cause increased pressure and discomfort, and can sometimes make the stomach look bigger. The effect can be quite extreme in certain cases, and some have even used the term food baby. Bloating is not the same as water retention, but the two terms are often used interchangeably. Read this article for ways to reduce water retention.
Put simply, bloating involves excessive amounts of solids, liquids or gas in your digestive system.
However, in some people, bloating is caused mostly by increased sensitivity. It just feels as if there is increased pressure in the abdomen, even though there isn’t. About 16-30% of people report that they regularly experience bloating, so this is very common. Bloating can often cause pain, discomfort and a “stuffed” feeling, but it can also make you look heavier and give the perception of large amounts of belly fat.
Although bloating is sometimes caused by serious medical conditions, it is most often caused by the diet and some foods or ingredients you are intolerant to. Here are 11 proven ways to reduce or eliminate bloating.
Don’t Eat Too Much at a Time-
Being stuffed can feel like being bloated, but the problem is that you simply ate too much. If you’re eating big meals and tend to feel uncomfortable afterwards, then try smaller portions.
Add another daily meal if necessary. A subset of people who experience bloating don’t really have an enlarged stomach or increased pressure in the abdomen. The issue is mostly sensory.
A person with a tendency to be bloated will experience discomfort from a smaller amount of food than a person who rarely feels bloated. For this reason, simply eating smaller meals can be incredibly useful.
Chewing your food better can have a two-fold effect. It reduces the amount of air you swallow with the food (a cause of bloating), and it also makes you eat slower, which is linked to reduced food intake and smaller portions.
Avoid Swallowing Air and Gases-
There are two sources of gas in the digestive system. One is gas produced by the bacteria in the gut (which we’ll get to in a bit). The other is air or gas that is swallowed when you eat or drink. The biggest offender here is carbonated beverages (soda, or fizzy drinks). They contain bubbles with carbon dioxide, a gas that can be released from the liquid after it reaches your stomach. Chewing gum, drinking through a straw, and eating while talking or while in a hurry, can also lead to increased amounts of swallowed air.
Don’t Eat Foods That Give You Gas-
Some high fiber foods can make people produce large amounts of gas. Major players include legumes like beans and lentils, as well as some whole grains. Try keeping a food diary to figure out if certain foods tend to make you more gassy and/or bloated than others.
Fatty foods can also slow down digestion and emptying of the stomach. This can have benefits for satiety (and possibly help with weight loss), but can be a problem for people with a tendency to bloat. Try eating less of beans and fatty foods to see if it helps.
Take Digestive Enzyme Supplements-
There are certain over-the-counter products that can be useful. This includes supplemental enzymes that can help break down indigestible carbohydrates.
A notable one includes:
Lactase: an enzyme that breaks down lactose, useful for people with lactose intolerance.