I bumped into an old friend at the store and he nodded at my tummy and asked when I was due. (I'm not.)
Granted, I had a baby under a year old at the time, so having a flat stomach was not in the cards. The truth is, having borne three children and needing some help rebuilding my stomach muscles, my tummy was on the bloated side at the time. Awkward social moment aside, it actually made me think about what was causing the problem.
Thankfully, I realized there are tangible ways to fight the bloat.
5 foods that promote bloating
1. Food intolerances. I don’t have a true allergy to dairy, and I’m not going to break out in hives if I have it. But, if I do have it regularly, stomach bloat is an issue. When I bumped into that old friend, dairy had become part of my almost daily diet again, and it was showing in the bloat. Granted not everyone gets bloated from dairy, but especially those who are lactose-intolerant may have to deal with this unpleasant side effect.
Others bloat up from gluten, so much so that they call it having a “gluten baby” because they look six months pregnant after eating gluten. We are individuals, and some of us tolerate dairy and gluten just fine. For those of us who deal with a lot of bloating, check into some of the common allergies and intolerances such as dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, and others. You may find that cutting out one or more of these foods cuts down significantly on the bloating.
2. Beans and lentils. While dairy causes bloating for me, I tolerate beans just fine. Others are not so lucky. Beans and lentils contain a sugar by the name of oligosaccharide, which has to be broken down by bacteria in the intestines. If your body has a hard time breaking it down you can get bloated with the dreaded gassy aftereffect as well. Personally, I find that giving the beans a long soak in warm water, and then cooking the beans in fresh water with a little strip of kombu seaweed is helpful in preventing digestive distress. So if you find that beans are bothering you, but you aren’t ready to give them up yet, try the long soaking method first!
3. Vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli or Brussels sprouts. These vegetables are incredibly good for you! But if you experience bloating after eating them, you can blame it on the sugar raffinose, which some people have a hard time breaking down. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to cut down on bloat, while still getting the benefit of these delicious vegetables. Cook them instead of eating them raw, eat them in moderation, and eat them with other foods.
4. Fructose and artificial sugars. Some artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol can’t be digested and thus can create a lot of digestive distress. Fructose is a natural sugar found in many foods (such as apples), but in high amounts it can be hard for many people to digest. Avoid foods with added fructose and other artificial sweeteners. If you are really sensitive to fructose, cut down on foods that are high in it such as apples, pears, mangos, cherries and pineapple.
5. High-fiber whole grains. If you’ve been eating a diet full of processed foods, adding in a lot of whole grains suddenly can be a strain on the digestion and cause a lot of unnecessary stress. Instead, add them in slowly over time and drink plenty of water. In the end, fiber can be helpful for balancing out your digestion, but you just don’t want to shock it suddenly with an influx of fiber-rich foods. If you've been eating a whole grain diet for a long time, you may discover that the opposite to be true: eating a meal high in processed carbs can cause digestive stress if your body is not accustomed to it.
5 foods and beverages that can help with bloating
1. Probiotic foods. A lot of bloating happens because your digestive tract is having a hard time processing certain foods. Probiotic foods such as yogurt and live culture sauerkraut can be helpful for building up healthy good bacteria, and thus help with bloating.
2. Peppermint tea. Peppermint has long been used to treat upset stomach, and research has found that it helps with digestive pain. Sipping on peppermint tea may help alleviate bloating and other digestive issues.
3. Drink water. If your body is holding on to water and causing bloating, don't not stop drinking! It could be your body's attempt to hold on to water to prevent dehydration. The best thing you can do is to continue to drink. Add a little lemon, or fresh peppermint for a yummy taste, and for more benefits. Or try one of these spa waters!
4. Cucumbers. Cucumbers contain quercetin, which helps with puffiness. (Yup! That’s why you use cucumber slices on your eyes!). Eating cucumber can help with bloating for the same reason.
5. Ginger. Another traditional remedy that is anti-inflammatory and helps the digestive tract is ginger. Try making a fresh ginger tea by steeping a couple thin slices in a cup of hot water, or adding it to Thai-inspired soups.
Related on MNN: