Bloating. It’s something many of us, men and women alike, deal with on a somewhat daily basis. It feels yuck, chips away at our self-confidence, and even worse, is probably trying to tell us that something is wrong. It might be something in your digestive tract, your diet, or another body system, and it’s important to work out what’s going on.
I suffer from bloating. Regularly. Through trial and error, I’ve been able to narrow down the cause of my bloating to eating too much (this is a subjective judgement) refined grain or sugar (or possibly the chemicals that usually come in those foods too). This could be too much in one day, or just a little over too many days that leaves me lethargic, bloated, and feeling less than awesome. Even though I know this, it still happens.
However, I’m getting more of a handle on it all the time, and I wanted to share with you my 9 biggest blunders when beating bloating.
1) Thinking it’s normal/fine/just who you are.
Because many of my friends suffered from the same thing, I never really thought about doing anything about it. I figured it was just part of the human experience and a sign of getting older. Well, it’s not ‘normal’ in the sense that it’s how your body should work. It might be ‘normal’ as far as the amount of people who experience it, but it doesn’t have to be. It isn’t just a fact of life or who you are. If you’re willing to put in some work, you can un-bloat your tummy.
2) Thinking it’s too difficult to do something about
Yes, you might have to change some things. Maybe some big things. But really, bloating is a symptom of something that’s not working… something that’s going a bit wrong in your body. This is totally worth identifying and trying to fix before things progress further.
3) Thinking it’ll be an easy fix
It’s so easy for me to write “Oh yeah, I figured out that my bloating was caused by too much refined grain, so I reduced it in my diet and now I am mostly bloat-free”. What you don’t read is that this discovery process took years (though my Whole 30 sped it up), is still on-going, and the road to cutting down on refined foods is long and not exactly made easy in everyday life. So yeah, it might not be fast or easy, but you can do it.
4) Not drinking enough water
I know. You hear it all the time. But it’s true. Staying hydrated really does help your body deal with stuff. When I’m feeling bloated, sometimes drinking water makes me feel even MORE bloated, but trust me, it’s for the best.
5) Eating a lot of raw vegetables
I know right? Didn’t I just publish a post with tips on how to eat more vegetables? Well, if you’re suffering from bloating, some of the insoluble fibre found in vegetables might be a contributor. Chris Kresser has a great post on this, so I won’t repeat it here, but if you’re eating a lot of raw vegetables and getting bloated after meals, try cooking some of that veg and see if it helps (cooking and/or fermenting helps start the food breakdown process, making it easier on your digestion).
6) Eating fast
- Possibly swallowing a lot of air, which can make you feel pretty bloated; and
- Not going to digest your food well (thanks stress-response!), which leads to bloating.
So, slow down at meals. Chew and swallow to enjoy your food. Check out my guest post over at Fabulous FODMAPS for some more mindful eating tips to get you started.
7) Looking only at your diet
So all these first points have been food and diet related, but that’s not all that could be causing your bloating. We’ll talk about stress in a moment, but other lifestyle factors, such a tight clothing or not getting enough movement into your day can contribute too. In fact, research suggests that weak abdominal muscles could be a factor when it comes to bloating (see here and here). So take stock of your daily life and the rest of your body – what can you experiment with to work out this problem?
8) Stressing about it
As I’ve said lots of times before, stress is super bad for you – and it’s no different when it comes to bloating. There are a couple of different ways that stress can lead to that billowing-belly, the main one being that stress stops you digesting your food efficiently. This is because your body is sending all the resources (like hormones, blood, energy) to other parts of your body to deal with the stress (which your body sees as a threat you’ll need to fight or run from, even if it’s not). So, your digestion slows and doesn’t work as well. This can lead to food sitting around for longer than we really want, and upset things a bit, leading to bloating. Stress (and the hormones and reactions that go along with it) can also cause inflammation in the body, especially in the gut. It’s not surprising that this can contribute to bloating too. So, try some techniques to reduce stress – especially at meal times – and see if it helps.
9) Waiting until it’s gone to love yourself
This is the biggest blunder of them all. We all deserve love and acceptance, and it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. Don’t wait until you’re ‘perfect’ to start loving yourself… it will NEVER happen. Love yourself right now, and use that love to instigate change. Nothing positive ever comes from conditional love, and you don’t deserve that. It’s a lot easier said than done, but stay tuned in next week for a post about how to love yourself as you are now. Trust me, it’s of the highest importance. For some help with this, check out the free ebook ‘Fall in Love with Yourself’.
So there you have it – my top 9 bloating blunders. I’ve made them all! More than once. And I will probably continue to make them, but less often. As with so many things wellness related, it’s a journey and a process. One I hope will result in more and more bloat-free days (because they are awesome!).
Tell me: Do you struggle with bloating? What has worked for you in reducing it?