Some stomach bloating, gas or belching is natural. However, when it becomes so much that it interferes with your daily activities or feelings of wellbeing, it’s an issue that should be addressed. In rare cases it can be caused by an underlying medical condition. But most of the time bloating of the stomach can be improved by introducing some small changes. Read on for tips on how to beat the bloat!
Avoid gulping air
There are 2 sources of gas in the gut: the first being gas produced by bacteria and the second is air swallowed during eating or drinking. Drinking any carbonated drinks, including sparkling water, and chewing gum can cause you to swallow air. If you reduce your intake, you should notice a difference in your gut.
Chew your food
Most of us chew each bite only 5-8 times. Chewing more thoroughly reduces the amount of air you swallow with the food. It also breaks down food into smaller particles, which allows for more surface area for enzymes and other digestive juices to work on. This in turn can help reduce bloating of the stomach.
Eat smaller meals
Eating too much at once can make you feel stuffed, which is often confused with feeling bloated. We have a lot of sensory nerves in our abdomen so feeling bloated after a big meal is common, when in reality we’re just full. To avoid eating past the point of fullness, try eating only until you’re 80% full and then wait 20 minutes until you reach for another serving.
Taking breaks between each bite of a meal allows your brain to receive fullness signals before you overeat. Easy trick: eat with your non-dominant hand. You won’t be able to eat as quickly than with your dominant one, allowing time for your brain to let you know when you are full.
Eat more mindfully
Most of us wolf down our meals while catching up on emails, scrolling through social media or watching the television. This makes us less aware of fullness signals and oftentimes leads to overeating, which takes a toll on our digestive system.
Rule out food allergies, food intolerances and food sensitivities
Bloating can also be caused by gas from malabsorbed nutrients. Lactose, fructose, eggs, peanuts, seafood, gluten, yeast and soy are common food items people can be sensitive, intolerant or allergic to. The best way to figure out whether you have a specific reaction to a food is to go through a structured elimination diet with the support of a registered dietitian or nutritionist.
Make sure you’re not constipated
Ensuring that you are drinking enough water, eating enough soluble fibre (found in vegetables, fruit, oats and beans), and being physically active (like a daily 20-minute brisk walk) are the best ways to avoid constipation. Side tip: magnesium supplements also help with regular bowel movements.
More is not better
In general, most of us do not eat enough fibre, but it’s also not a “more is better” principal. There is a point of diminishing return to the benefits of fibre, particularly if you already suffer from IBS-type symptoms. Extremely fatty foods can also trigger a feeling bloating as they slow down gastric emptying.
Examples of sugar alcohols are xylitol and sorbitol, found in products like chewing- gum and protein bars. They cause our gut bacteria to produce a lot of gas. Be mindful of products you are consuming and read the label in case these sugar alcohols may be the cause of your bloating.
Breathe before you eat
Oftentimes bloating of the stomach, gas and other digestive issues can be cause by stress or anxiety. Taking a few deep breaths before a meal can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system that put our body into more of a rest and digest mode.
All in all, you have to make sure that you’re not only aware of what you’re consuming but also how you consume it. Don’t rush to finish your meals or hurry to get that second plate of food. Take your time, be mindful and be patient to allow yourself to get that “full feeling.”