Bloated: All You Need to Know

Ever get the feeling that some days you just can’t button your jeans? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. And no, you didn’t gain 10 pounds overnight. Chances are, you’re just bloated. We all get bloated from time to time. Of course, as life would have it, most of those times are the days that we really need to fit into those pants, too. This has become a big deal and a topic of conversation more often than not. 

Thankfully, there are things we can do to prevent bloating from happening. It’s a matter of understanding how your body works and what you can do to help it function better. But first, let’s get our bloating triggers down. You’ll be happy to know that most of these are easy fixes. 

Bloating /ˈblo diNG/ noun 

  1. A swollen state caused by retention of fluid or gas. 

We mostly feel bloated around the stomach and abdominal area. Bloating after eating is somewhat normal. Now, what we need to watch for is when bloating comes along with feeling pain and/or flatulence. This is a clear indicator that something is not alright with your digestive health. 

When we are in the process of digesting food, we naturally produce gas, and some foods produce more gas than others. Given that we’re all made differently, there are those foods that sit well with us, and some that simply don’t. Aside from learning overtime which foods pair well with you, and which you might want to avoid, here are some things we can do to help reduce bloating:

1. Eating too fast or not chewing thoroughly — what’s the hurry? Chewing is one of the main steps when it comes to digestion, meaning we first need to break down food into smaller pieces in order for the enzymes in our saliva to be more effective in the process. 

2. The “Cs”: Carbonated and Caffeinated Beverages — we all love them, some of us can’t live without them. But balance is key. Carbonated beverages contain CO2, which is additional gas that’s being introduced to your digestive system, which may result in bloating. Beverages with caffeine can stimulate spasms in the gut and can prevent the secretion of digestive enzymes leading to undigested food passing into your small intestine. This may cause too much fermentation in our gut, which will produce even more gas. 

3. Gum: we might not even notice this, but sorbitol, a common ingredient in sugar-free gum, has laxative properties that can result in bloating.

4. Stress: remember our article on the connection between the gut and the brain? (Read more here.) Well, since the gut and the brain are so connected, our digestion can slow down when we feel stressed, which can lead to more fermentation of the food, causing unnecessary gas production. 

5. Too much food: eating too much in one meal can be too much for your gut to handle, so try making smaller meals more times a day.

6. Bathroom shy: holding your bowel movements can cause fermentation, which leads to more gas production and unwanted bloating. 

7. Add more water: we all know that drinking water is key, but when it comes to digestion it’s especially important, as water and fiber work together to improve digestion by softening and increasing the bulk of the stool. 

8. Fiber: last but definitely not least. Adding fiber to your diet should be an everyday goal. But managing how you reach your fiber goals is just as important. When upping the fiber in your diet, start by adding 8 grams per day for the first week, and after that, slowly add more each day until you reach 30 grams per day. 

Now you have all the tools you need to start feeling lighter. So, here’s to fitting into those jeans without a grunt and a jump every time! 

Seo, A Young et al. “Abdominal bloating: pathophysiology and treatment.” Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility vol. 19,4 (2013): 433-53. doi:10.5056/jnm.2013.19.4.433 

McCrea GL, Miaskowski C, Stotts NA, Macera L, Paul SM, Varma MG. Gender differences in self-reported constipation characteristics, symptoms, and bowel and dietary habits among patients attending a specialty clinic for constipation. Gend Med. 2009 Apr;6(1):259-71. doi: 10.1016/j.genm.2009.04.007. PMID: 19467522.