Some bloating, gas or belching is natural and common. However, when it gets to the point where it starts interfering with your daily activities or your feelings of well-being, it’s an issue that should be addressed. In rare cases it can be caused by an underlying medical condition, however most of the time bloating can be reduced by following some easy tips.
1. Avoid chewing gum and carbonated drinks. There are 2 sources of gas in the gut: the first being gas produced by bacteria and the second is air swallowed during eating or drinking. Main reasons for swallowing air are drinking carbonated drinks (including sparkling water) and chewing gum, so avoid these to reduce the risk of excess air in the gut.
2. Chew your food properly. Most of us chew each bite only 5-8 times. Chewing more thoroughly reduces the amount of air you swallow with food, which is one of the major causes of bloating. It also breaks down food into smaller particles, which allows for more surface area for enzymes and other digestive juices to work on.
3. Eat smaller meals. Eating too much volume at once can make you feel stuffed, which is often confused with feeling bloated. We have a lot of sensory nerves in our stomach so feeling bloated after a big meal is common, when in reality we’re just full. To avoid eating past the point of fullness, try eating only until you’re 80% full and then wait 20 minutes until you reach for more.
4. Slow down. Slowing down by taking smaller bites, chewing more thoroughly and taking breaks between bites allows your brain to receive fullness signals before you overeat. Easy trick: eat with your non-dominant hand. You’re won’t be able to eat as quickly than with your dominant one.
5. Eat more mindfully. Most of us wolf down our meals while catching up on emails, scrolling through social media or watching the television. This makes us less aware of fullness signals and oftentimes leads to overeating, which takes a toll on our digestive system.
6. Rule out food allergies, food intolerances and food sensitivities. Bloating can be caused by gas from mal-absorbed nutrients. Lactose, fructose, eggs, peanuts, seafood, gluten, yeast and soy are common food items people can be sensitive / intolerant or allergic to. The best way to figure out whether you have a specific reaction to a food is to go through a structured elimination diet with the support of a registered dietitian or nutritionist.
7. Make sure you’re not constipated. The feeling of being bloated can often arise from constipation. Ensure to drink enough water, eat enough soluble fibre (found in vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes), be physically active (for instance a daily 20-minute brisk walk) are the best ways to avoid constipation. Extra tip: magnesium supplements also help with regular bowel movements.
8. More is not better. In general, most of us do not eat enough fibre, but it’s also not a “more is better” principal. There is a point of diminishing return to the benefits of fibre, particularly if you already suffer from IBS-type symptoms. Extremely fatty foods can also trigger a feeling bloating as they slow down gastric emptying (the rate at which food passes from your stomach to your small intestine).
9. Avoid sugar-alcohols. Examples of sugar alcohols are xylitol and sorbitol, found in products like chewing- gum and protein bars. They cause our gut bacteria to produce a lot of gas.
10. Breathe before you eat. Oftentimes bloating, gas and other digestive issues can be cause by stress or anxiety. Taking a few deep breaths before a meal can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system that put our body into more of a rest and digest mode.
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