There’s nothing worse than finishing a delicious meal and feeling bloated and uncomfortable right after. Sometimes lying down and unbuttoning your pants for a little while will do, but often this unwanted feeling turns into stomach ache, swelling, and more.
Bloating isn’t unnatural or something to be worried about unless you notice that it’s always accompanied by other painful or uncomfortable symptoms, so you don’t need to worry if you’re feeling bloated after a meal! If it was a particularly heavy or not-so-healthy meal, bloating can easily occur, but the good news is that you can act on it and help alleviate the discomfort, or even avoid it completely.
We’re here to show you how to get rid of bloating after eating so you can digest your meals peacefully, from foods to either try or avoid, to small lifestyle changes. But before we do that, let’s talk a little bit more about bloating, what it is, and the most common causes…
What causes bloating?
Bloating is something that everyone is familiar with, whether you experience it regularly or not. It mainly happens when your gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) becomes filled with gas, leaving you with a feeling of discomfort and tightness in your gut. It can go from being mildly uncomfortable to very painful, and even make you look swollen.
But how does this happen?
There are a few common reasons why you could become bloated:
- FODMAP foods
Some foods famously make you gassy, known as FODMAPs, which stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.
These are big words, but to put it simply, FODMAPs are carbs that are not digested properly in your gut and can cause digestive problems such as bloating, gas, constipation, stomach pain, and more. A few examples of these foods are milk, beans, lentils, as well as some fruits and vegetables.
- Food intolerances
Being intolerant to a food or group of foods can cause mild to severe bloating depending on how intolerant you are, on top of other symptoms such as stomach ache and swelling. A few common food intolerances are lactose and glucose intolerance, as well as gluten sensitivity.
- Eating fast food regularly
Fast foods are full of unhealthy fats, simple carbs, salt, and other additives that make them terrible for your health when eaten too often. And while everything in moderation is okay, fast foods in particular are more inflammatory than regular whole foods and can cause bloating and other issues in your digestive system.
- Gut health problems
Sometimes, bloating happens due to chronic illness. One of the most common ones is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which essentially means that your gut is extra sensitive to many foods, particularly those categorized as FODMAP.
If you find yourself getting bloated very regularly on top of having other symptoms such as heavy cramps and alternating between constipation and diarrhea, consider visiting your doctor to check for any possible medical conditions.
Ways to reduce bloating
We already went over the most common causes, but there might be other bloating factors in your diet or your general health that might be causing you problems. That said, bloating is mostly caused by the reasons that we previously mentioned, so you probably don’t need to worry!
Here are a few effective ways to reduce bloating after eating:
Keep an eye on FODMAP foods
As you now know, FODMAP foods can promote bloating and other uncomfortable symptoms after your meals. This isn’t true for everyone, since some people might be more sensitive to these foods than others, but if you’re experiencing bloating regularly, consider reducing your intake of FODMAPs.
Since many foods fall into this category, it would be a good idea to keep a food diary as well as write down when you’re feeling bloated. This way, you can find out if those foods are the ones causing you problems or if there’s anything else that you should look into.
Here are some common FODMAP foods:
- Some fruits such as apples, peaches, apricots, and mangoes as well as canned and dried fruit with high fructose concentration.
- Dairy products such as whole milk, yogurt, and margarine.
- Some vegetables such as broccoli, artichoke, cauliflower, and beets.
- Beans and lentils.
- Grains such as rye and wheat (and all derived products, like bread and cereal).
Identify your food intolerances
One common cause of bloating is food intolerances or allergies that you might have, and if you don’t know already, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly which food is causing it.
Lactose intolerance is by far the most common one, with around 68% of the world’s population having it. Lactose is a high-FODMAP sugar found in dairy products, such as milk and cheese. Since these are basic food items in the regular person’s diet, a lot of people don’t really know that they’re lactose intolerant even after experiencing bloating and other symptoms.
Keeping a food diary is also a great idea when it comes to food intolerances. You can find out if you’re intolerant or allergic to something with trial and error, writing down any symptoms that you might feel after eating certain foods. This way, you can avoid bloating, stomach pains, and other uncomfortable side effects of food intolerances in the long run.
Avoid salt and fiber in excess
If you’re a regular fast food eater or tend to buy a lot of pre-packaged foods, you may be eating way more salt than you should - and that can definitely be a problem!
Sodium is necessary for many body processes, but too much of it can cause your body to retain water, which in turn causes unwanted bloating. On top of that, a sodium excess in your body can lead to potential health problems such as high blood pressure, so always try to check your sodium intake.
Fast foods are also high in carbs, especially fiber, which is a type of carb that can’t be digested (thus considered a FODMAP). Fiber is beneficial for your body, but excess can be terrible for your gastrointestinal health and may lead to bloating, gas, stomach pain, and other symptoms.
But it isn’t only found in fast foods! Whole foods such as beans, broccoli, and some fruits are also high in fiber, so you might need to keep an eye on your intake of high-fiber foods that make you bloated like these if you experience bloating regularly.
Eat more slowly
Eating slowly isn’t only beneficial to avoid overeating and subsequent weight gain, it can also help prevent bloating!
This is because eating your food too quickly causes more air to get in your stomach, causing an uncomfortable gas build-up after or even during your meal. If you’re eating so fast that you’re basically inhaling your food, then this might be the possible cause of your bloating.
A good way to prevent this is by practicing mindful eating! This means getting rid of any distractions that might make you eat faster, such as watching tv during dinner or scrolling on your phone. Chew your food thoroughly, focus on the flavor, and put down the fork or the spoon each time you take a bite to make some extra time while you actually enjoy your food.
Try potassium-rich foods
Remember what we said about sodium and water retention? Well, there’s an essential mineral that can do just the opposite and act as an anti-bloating agent - and that’s potassium!
If you’re experiencing water retention, eating foods that help with bloating such as potassium-rich foods (avocados, beet greens) can help decrease it. This is because potassium helps get rid of excess sodium by increasing urine production and flushing the sodium out that way, lowering its impact on your body and alleviating water retention.
On top of that, potassium also plays an important role in regulating muscle contractions, which supports your gut health by allowing food to pass through easily, avoiding bloating and constipation in the process. All in all, getting some extra potassium is something you’ll definitely want to look into if you experience bloating!
Reduce carbonated drinks
Similar to eating too fast, drinking carbonated beverages can make you feel bloated because of the gas build-up in your gut. All those little bubbles found in your sodas and even carbonated water can get trapped in your intestine, leaving you with an uncomfortable bloated feeling after your meals.
You don’t have to avoid carbonated beverages completely, or even at all, but if you find yourself getting too bloated after drinking them, consider reducing your consumption or stopping it for a while. This way, you can check if that’s the cause for your bloating or if there’s another issue that’s affecting you on top of that.
Consider taking probiotics
Probiotics are live microorganisms (particularly live bacteria and yeast) known for being incredibly beneficial for your gut health by maintaining and improving a healthy gut microbiome and supporting “good” gut bacteria. Because of this, some studies have suggested that probiotics can help reduce bloating and other digestive problems.
You can take probiotics in the form of pills, but they’re also found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut. Having one or several of these in your pantry or fridge can be highly beneficial, not only to possibly alleviate your bloating but also to support your gut flora and improve digestion in general!
Bloating can be incredibly uncomfortable and even painful at times, so we hope these bloating relief tips can help you identify which factors might trigger bloating in your body so you can reduce them for a better eating experience! And as we said before, if bloating comes with other symptoms such as abdominal pain and constipation, consider visiting a specialist so you can start taking better care of your health.
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