If you asked me, feeling bloated is one of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world. It makes me cranky and irritable and I’ll do just about anything to avoid it. Sounds good in theory, right? But what if you don’t know what’s causing it?
Here’s a list of some of the most common reasons you may be feeling bloated and ways to stop it:
1. You’re eating too much and/or eating too fast.
Eating quickly often leads to overeating. Remember that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you’re full. Eat slowly and chew your food well.
2. You’re eating foods that commonly cause gas.
This varies from person to person but some common offenders include beans, lentils, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, chewing gum, apples, etc. Dairy products can also cause problems, if you’re lactose intolerant.
Try sprouting your beans and lentils to make them easier to digest and limit artificial sweeteners. If you think dairy products are giving you trouble, consider non-dairy alternatives like almond or soy milk or talk to your doctor about a pill that can help you digest lactose. Remember that many lactose-intolerant people can still tolerate yogurt.
3. You increased your fiber intake too quickly.
Fiber is a very important part of our diet. However, it can be difficult for the body to digest. So, you don’t want to jump from eating just 10 grams of fiber per day up to 30 grams per day without giving your body time to adjust. Increase your fiber intake gradually and be sure you’re drinking plenty of water as well. Water will help move the fiber through your system and reduce the risk for bloating and constipation.
4. You’re eating a very high fat or high sodium diet.
Fat delays stomach emptying so if you’re eating large amounts of fat at each meal, it can take longer for your stomach to empty, leaving you feeling bloated. Sodium causes water retention so eating excess amounts of it can leave you feeling swollen and bloated. Prepackaged meals and restaurant food are two of the biggest sources of dietary sodium.
5. You have an undiagnosed condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance.
IBS is a common cause of bloating and although there is no cure, you can work with a doctor or RD to help manage and control your symptoms. If bloating occurs when you eat foods containing wheat, barley and rye, you could have a gluten-intolerance or celiac disease. Your doctor can run tests to help make that determination and an RD can help provide alternatives so that you can still consume a balanced diet.
Although there are certainly other reasons you may be feeling bloated, like hormones and cigarette smoking, these are some of the most common causes. Hopefully being aware will also help you be more comfortable as you figure out what works for your body!
Lindsay is Registered Dietitian and writes about food and fitness at The Lean Green Bean. She shares healthy recipes, fun workouts, and snapshots of her life. She lives with her husband in Ohio and enjoys traveling and spending time outside with her dogs. You can connect with Lindsay on Twitter: @leangrnbeanblog.