Nutrition Q&A: How to Prevent Bloating?Bloating can be caused by an underlying medical condition, so it is important that you rule that out with your doctor first. However, more often than not, bloating is caused by one or more of the following food-related causes.
Nutrition Q&A 7/9/21
Question from Karen
What causes belly bloat, and is there anything that I should be eating (or not eating) to prevent it?
Let’s start by defining what bloating is and work from there. Bloating is the feeling of being painfully stuffed, filled with gas, or swollen, and it often occurs after a meal. Bloating can be caused by an underlying medical condition, so it is important that you rule that out with your doctor first. However, more often than not, bloating is caused by one or more of the following food-related causes:
- Eating too much at once
- Eating too fast
- High-fiber foods can cause bloating, especially if you aren’t used to eating them. Some of the major culprits for producing gas are beans, lentils, peas, legumes, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
- Swallowing air by chewing gum, drinking carbonated beverages, or drinking through a straw
- Consuming alcohol, especially bubbly beverages such as beer, champagne, and any alcohol mixed with soda
- Lactose intolerance: Individuals with lactose intolerance do not have lactase, the enzyme needed to digest the sugar in dairy products. Lactose intolerant individuals may experience nausea, indigestion, bloating, and/or diarrhea within 30 minutes to two hours after consuming dairy products.
- Gluten intolerance: People who are sensitive to gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains) or who have celiac disease may experience gas and bloating after eating foods with gluten.
- Consuming artificial sweeteners
- Lack of proper hydration
Based on the list of causes for bloating, the following key behaviors may help prevent and reduce bloating:
- Avoid consuming very large meals whenever possible.
- Slow down when you are eating and mindfully chew your food. Put the fork down between bites.
- Add fiber to your diet slowly, and avoid fibrous foods that you know cause gas for you. Look for some alternative vegetables that are less gassy such as squash, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, and tomatoes.
- Keep a detailed food journal for an entire week and see if you can find a connection between a specific food or food group and your symptoms.
- Ditch carbonated beverages. I know how much we all love the flavored fizzy seltzers these days, but they are a major cause of bloating and indigestion.
- Stay hydrated! In addition to all of the great things that water does for us, it keeps the digestive system moving and reduces the likeliness of constipation.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and “added fibers” like chicory root and oligofructose. These are found frequently in protein bars, as they help keep the carb and calorie counts down and the fiber count up. If your protein bar uses the term “net carbs” or “impact carbs” on the nutrition label, there is a pretty high likelihood that it contains sugar alcohols and added fiber powders that are distressing to the gut.
- Cut back on the booze. While it’s true that carbonated alcoholic beverages tend to wreak the most havoc on the belly, too much alcohol of any kind can cause gastritis.