Bloating can be a huge pain—literally. Bloating is characterized by inflation of the stomach, often after eating. Stomach bloating can often occur after eating certain foods. It may be accompanied by pain, cramping, flatulence, and belching. At times, bloating can be caused by underlying medical conditions and can be experienced by women during menstruation, but more often, bloating is a result of dietary choices. Bloating is usually temporary and will subside on its own in time.
All types of foods can be triggers for bloating, including carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. For some people, having a food intolerance can also increase the risk of bloating. The most common triggers include apples, dairy products, beans, cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage, lettuce, onion, peaches, and pears. Artificial sweeteners, like those found in diet sodas, can also be a cause of bloating. Many people cannot digest these sweeteners, resulting in an unusual amount of gas.
Switching to a whole grain diet has been known to cause bloating, as the amount of fiber intake is significantly increased after switching to whole grains and fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. If you plan to switch to a whole grain diet, make sure to do so slowly and drink plenty of water.
Salt is another well-known culprit of bloating. When people talk about losing water weight, what they are referring to is the body’s natural tendency to decrease water retention when salt intake is reduced. Avoiding foods with high salt content can prevent water retention and the bloated feeling associated with it.
Dairy intolerance is the most common cause of bloating. Nearly 10 percent of adults suffer from some form of dairy intolerance. While calcium is a required nutrient for the body’s health and well-being, it can be sourced from other foods besides those containing lactose. There are also many lactose-free alternative dairy options.
The best way to relieve bloating is to prevent its occurrence. As dietary triggers are often the cause of bloating, knowing which triggers you are most sensitive to is vital to avoid bloating. Keeping an eye on your intake of fiber, salt, and carbonated beverages can also play a big part in preventing stomach bloating. Also, make sure you are not consuming a high-fat diet, as fatty foods are a major culprit in stomach bloating after eating. There also may be a difference between trans fats, saturated fats, and unsaturated fats for your digestion as well, so try and keep track of which ones make you feel the worst.
Although it is a dairy product, eating yogurt can help to fill your stomach with healthy bacteria in the form of probiotics, which boost digestion and gut health. When eating, try not to drink too many liquids. Beverages dilute stomach acids and cause the digestion process to become prolonged. Wait until after eating to finish your drink. Finally, take your time and eat slowly while sitting up straight. Allowing your digestive tract time to begin the digestive process will help to decrease the risk of bloating after eating.
If you still find yourself in the unfortunate stomach-busting situation, here are some other tricks you can try to make the feeling go away faster. Try going for a walk or doing some light exercise. Moving around can help your body digest faster, allowing for the bloating to decrease sooner. If you smoke or drink excessively, cut it out. Both things are detriments to overall health.
Try to avoid stressful situations and when faced with them, keep some coping mechanisms on hand so you can deal with them more smoothly. Drinking peppermint tea after eating has also been known to decrease stomach bloating, as peppermint helps to relax the muscles in your stomach. You can also take a probiotic supplement or a digestive enzyme after eating to give your digestive system a boost. If all else fails, you can also try over-the-counter medications to reduce bloating or prevent it in the case of a dietary problem, such as lactose drops for people who are lactose intolerant.
Stomach bloating after eating is one of life’s common inconveniences, which most of us will experience at least once in our lives. Bloating is usually a sign of a dietary issue, although it can occur in women during menstruation or menopause too. If bloating is a regular, persistent issue even after following the tips above, consult your doctor. There may be a larger medical concern in your digestive system. Overall, watch what you eat and do your best to maintain a happy, healthy lifestyle and you’ll be bloat-free in no time.