Bloating sucks. It makes you feel lethargic, unmotivated, it causes even stretchy pants to feel tight, and it can lead to an incredibly uncomfortable feeling for hours on end. Belly bloat can happen to everyone – it doesn’t matter if you’re crazy fit with abs. Your belly can still bloat.
Luckily, bloating is one symptom everyone can do something about! For most people, it’s as simple as being mindful of what they eat.
But before we dive into the foods that reduce bloating, let’s first look at what causes your gut to rebel.
WHAT CAUSES BLOATING
Belly bloat is caused by many different things ranging from underlying health conditions and medications to the types of food you eat. However, some causes are more common than others.
For most people, belly bloat is caused by three main factors: dehydration, food intolerances, and hormone changes.
The human body is interesting and no two people respond to food in the same way. Food that one person’s digestive tract breaks down without a problem can cause major bloating in another.
However, many people see issues with dairy, grains, and even salt intake. If you’re getting enough water, but still having major bloating issues, it could be time to look into your diet.
Don’t worry…we’ll go over some foods that reduce bloating in a bit.
Unfortunately, most people are in a state of constant dehydration. In our busy lives, it can be tough to make sure we drink enough water each day.
When you don’t drink enough water (around 2 litres or at least 4 8-ounce glasses a day), your body starts holding on to the water already in your system. This causes your belly to bloat, but may also cause your joints to feel stiff, fingers to swell, and leave you feeling sluggish.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to check if you’re hydrated or not: the pee test. When you’re drinking enough water, your pee should be mostly clear. If you’re dehydrated, it’ll be dark yellow.
Next time you go to the bathroom, pay attention to what’s in the toilet bowl. If your pee is deep yellow, start drinking more water. You’ll probably see an improvement in your bloating too!
Yes, if it’s that time of the month, it’s completely normal to experience bloating. When your hormones go crazy right before your period, your body responds by creating gas.
For most women, hormone-caused bloating will end when their period does. However, if it doesn’t stop, you’ll need to evaluate what else could contribute to your belly bloat.
Being mindful of the causes of bloat and discomfort will help, but it’s still a good idea to be proactive, especially with your diet.
Yep. Some workouts can leave you feeling bloated, and you know why? It’s because of your breathing.
When you take in air quickly after getting your heart rate up, it’s not uncommon for those fast breaths to leave your stomach feeling full. This is because you’re also swallowing some of the air as you breathe in.
If you feel bloated while working out, try belching. It may sound gross, but you’ll feel better almost immediately. Don’t hold it in—it will just make you feel more uncomfortable during the workout.
FOODS THAT REDUCE BLOATING
Believe it or not, eating the right foods can not only help reduce bloating quickly, but they can even keep you from bloating in the first place. Here are a few of the best foods to start incorporating into your diet.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar, more commonly shortened to ACV can work wonders for your gut. The vinegar helps soothe gastric upset by balancing the production of stomach acid in your gut.
Best of all, it boosts the good bacteria inside your digestive tract which helps your body break down all sorts of foods. The more you can digest completely, the less likely you are to feel bloated after eating.
Dairy may upset in some people, but yogurt can be a different story. Yogurt has tons of beneficial probiotics that can help promote a healthy gut and digestive system. These same cultures are found in dairy-free yogurts as well, so you can still reap the benefits if you’re lactose intolerant.
If you can’t handle dairy (or even if you can), I recommend taking a good quality probiotic every day!
Potassium and sodium must be in balance in your body.
Since bananas are naturally high in potassium, eating them on a regular basis can help give your body the resources it needs to reduce water retention and get rid of excess sodium from other foods.
Incorporate bananas into a smoothie for a delicious breakfast treat or grab one as a snack to help relieve bloat in the long-run.
Since dehydration is one of the leading causes of bloat, it’s only natural that foods high in water content would help. Cucumbers are the perfect hydrating food to add to your diet without increasing sugar or your daily calories significantly.
Slice one up and eat it in a salad or add a few slices to your glass of water for a nice crisp taste. And don’t forget to keep drinking lots of water!
Avocados are a wonderful source of healthy fat, but they also pack a punch when it comes to reducing the symptoms of bloat. Like bananas, avocados are naturally high in potassium and can help keep your gut happy when eaten regularly.
KIMCHI OR SAUERKRAUT
Fermented foods help improve your gut health as they’re jam-packed with prebiotics designed to keep your gut bacteria happy and healthy.
Both kimchi and sauerkraut are traditionally fermented and full of many of the living cultures found in high-quality yogurt, but without the sugar. Both kimchi and sauerkraut make the perfect toppings for salads, but can also be enjoyed on their own.
The key here is making sure you purchase living kimchi or sauerkraut. If the label says that it’s been pasteurized, the beneficial living cultures will have been killed off before the food hit the shelves.
Sometimes, you need foods that reduce bloat quickly rather than foods that help prevent it over time. Ginger is one of the best.
This natural spice has been used for thousands of years to soothe upset stomachs and reduce bloating and inflammation in the gut. Make your own ginger tea for a fast-acting bloat-busting elixir. Even better, you’ll be better hydrated!
FOODS YOU SHOULD AVOID
Just as there are some foods that reduce bloating, there are some foods that can contribute to bloating and inflammation.
You know that sodas are a major sugar bomb, but it’s not just the sugar that can contribute to feelings of bloat. It’s the carbonation. If you’re experiencing frequent bloating and inflammation, cut back on the carbonated beverages. Yes, even the soda water.
BEANS AND LENTILS
Beans and lentils may be packed with protein and fiber, but they also cause gas and bloat for many people. If you decide to eat beans, soak them in water overnight to sprout them and reduce the natural sugars that induce gas. However, if you have irritable bowel syndrome or a sensitive digestive tract, it may be better to avoid them entirely.
For many people, eating cruciferous veggies like cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli causes bloat rather quickly, especially when they’re consumed raw.
If you find yourself feeling bloated after eating uncooked cruciferous veggies, try cooking them thoroughly. If that still causes an upset stomach or leads to gas, cut them from your diet.
Dairy is delicious. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy ice cream every now and then? But the lactose inside dairy products like milk, cheese, and cream can leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable as soon as your stomach starts to digest the food. If you find yourself feeling gross after eating dairy, reach for a dairy-free alternative or stick to fermented probiotic-rich yoghurts.
Nuts contain phytic acid and some people have difficulty digesting nuts due to the phytic acid. Like beans and lentils, try soaking nuts before consuming them. If you still feel bloated after eating soaked nuts, it’s best to avoid them.
Overeating, in general, can make you feel full, bloated and lethargic. Not to mention remorseful! Overeating also causes inflammation in your body, making you feel worse. Try not to eat to the point of feeling stuffed. After a meal, you should feel great, not overly full.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SEEK HELP?
Bloating is often caused by not following a clean diet, but it can also be caused by other health conditions, such as intolerances, gut health issues or hormone imbalances.
If you’ve tried eating some of the foods that help reduce bloat naturally, but haven’t seen any improvement or your bloating is causing severe discomfort, schedule an appointment with a professional. It is important to see a doctor to make sure you don’t have a serious condition. But if you’re not having any luck with a doctor, try and an Integrative Doctor or a Naturopath :)
Bloating may be normal, but it’s definitely not a fun experience. Try eating clean, avoiding the bloat-inducing foods while incorporating more of the foods that relieve bloating quickly into your diet on a regular basis.
The less bloated you feel, the more excited you’ll be to get active and enjoy your workout routine!
Love Rachael xx