Bloating can be uncomfortable, inconvenient and even embarrassing in some cases. Usually the result of trapped air in the abdomen, occasional bloating is totally normal. However – when bloating is consistent and affecting your quality of life, it may be time to get to figure out how to beat the bloat!
But first – let’s explore some common causes of bloating.
Bloating can by caused by several factors and does NOT always mean you need to cut out foods or foods groups (in fact that can sometimes make it worse). Foods like gluten and dairy are commonly blamed for bloating, when there may be another issue at hand.
Common reasons for abdominal bloating:
- History of disordered eating or an eating disorder
- Eating too quickly
- High-fat meals
- Pelvic floor or core muscle dysfunction
- Strenuous exercise, especially when engaging your core
- Premenstrual water retention, especially in endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Stress and anxiety
- Gas from either normal causes or food intolerances
- Gastrointestinal issues, including celiac disease, gastroparesis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
After you’ve identified what may be causing your bloating, the next step is to make changes to your habits to improve your symptoms. Although some bloating needs professional intervention to resolve (such as that from a Registered Dietitian, gastroenterologist, mental health therapist or pelvic floor physical therapist) there are several things you can try on your own to begin.
Here are some simple tips that may help reduce bloating:
- Eat slow and chew your food well. Remember – digestion starts in the mouth!
- Limit straws, gum and carbonation. These are a few things that can increase excess air intake and increase your bloating.
- Focus on gentle movement, like walking and yoga, can help reduce bloating by supporting digestion and helping release air. (Check out this free YouTube Yoga video)
- Incorporate stress-management techniques, especially around mealtimes. Journaling, deep breathing and meditation are a few of our favorites.
- Stay hydrated. It can be helpful to start with at least 64oz of water per day and increase from there based on your individual needs.
- Eat a balanced diet. Focus on the balanced plate at meal times, and consider limiting excess sodium or fat which could contribute to more bloat.
- Start a lifestyle + symptom journal. Using an app like Bowelle to track your food and water intake, stress and symptoms. This a great action step to take before you meet with your care team!
PSA: If your bloating is extremely painful, accompanied by a fever and/or bleeding, this could be an emergency and we recommend contacting your doctor ASAP!
Still need help getting to the bottom of your uncomfortable bloating? Click here to schedule a 15-minute call with our GI specialist dietitian Catherine Johnston, MS, RD, LD CPT today! Together you can work through your symptom journal and create a plan that works best for you.
-Written by Catherine Johnston, MS, RD, LD CPT