Bloating can be the bane of many of our lives. An uncomfortable swollen tummy can occur for so many reasons. The biggest culprits are usually simple causes: Overeating (foodbaby), PMS, Stress. However bloating may also be symptomatic of something more serious; Food intolerances or IBS. Bloating is also a major symptom people experience after taking antibiotics or during recovery from an eating disorder; bulimia or anorexia.
While it is totally normal , bloating can have a really negative impact on our mood and self-esteem, it’s not something we have to just accept. The key is to find your own personal triggers and only then can you identify a solution. The best way to find your triggers is to keep a diary, track your diet, your exercise and stress-levels. This is the best way to find out what triggers your bloat.
Most causes are simple and are treatable with home remedies or over the counter medication (Ask the pharmacist, they usually know a lot)
I personally experience bloating particularly in times of stress or like on the day I took the above picture, when I eat Sesame seeds as I’m quite allergic. My tips for dealing with a bloated tummy include;
- A table-spoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with about 50mls of hot water, allow to cool and knock it back. Take this first-thing in the morning before breakfast. It is a massive fad in the health world at the moment and don’t believe everything you read about it’s “weight-loss” and “cancer-fighting” benefits. It’s not a miracle worker but I swear by it to aid digestion and prevent bloating.
- EXERCISE! Hardly a ground breaking solution but there is no better prevention or cure for bloating.. I know it’s hard to think of moving when you feel bloated and crap but find some way to force yourself to get up and go for a walk/jog/swim, whatever it it is, just move a little bit every day.
- Drink peppermint tea after your meal to help your gut digest.
- I don’t even want to say this but…. Cut down on your sugar and salt intake. Fructose causes bloating so goodbye processed foods. Sweeteners are also very difficult for your body to digest, so leave out anything ‘diet’ or ‘sugar-free’ ! Too much salt causes your body to retain water and as a result your tummy puffs out. Basically eat less junk and you won’t get so bloated, who’d’ve thought!
- Drink loads of water! – stay hydrated and dilute excess sodium, you’ll hold onto less salt and feel less puffed.
- Avoid fizzy ‘carbonated’ drinks!
- Eat smaller amounts, more often.
- Keep a food diary!- This will help prevent over-eating and will help you work out what triggers your bloating.
Foodbaby.. this is temporary bloat and usually self-inflicted. Sometimes there’s just no avoiding eating too much; Christmasdinner, Pancake Tuesday, The night before a new diet, Easter Sunday, Tuesday night at the cinema… Sometimes you don’t even realise how full you are and before you know it you’re left paralysed. When this happens, there’s only a couple of things you can do other than waiting for your body to digest.. Firstly stop eating, sip on peppermint tea and go for a light walk to get your digestive system working and to get your mind off that full-feeling.
In the case of PMS, try to remember you haven’t actually put on a stone weight overnight, you may feel a lot heavier but you are not. In saying this, every month I allow the PMS devil to convince me that I am now severely overweight and then every month I come out the other end of the week looking the same as always! The feeling of weight gain due to boat is can be intense but it is temporary and is experienced by most girls on their period. The best advice I can give is to go for a walk, and once that box is ticked, take yourself, some chocolate, a couple of nurofen and a hot water bottle to bed for the foreseeable future.
Be cautious that if you do experience bloating very regularly you shouldn’t ignore the signs. Abdominal bloating may caused by something more serious.
Consider the possibility of a food intolerance or allergy. Common offenders include; lactose (In dairy products: milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream), wheat, gluten, eggs. Seeing a doctor would really speed up this process and help you find out exactly what foods you should avoid. It is best to have kept a food diary before seeing your doctor, this will give them a more accurate picture of what’s going on and you’ll get a better answer for going forward. In the case of a food intolerance, knowledge is key. The more you educate yourself on your particular intolerance, the easier and better your diet and life will be. If you find out you’re now intolerant to lactose and focus only on the fact that you will have to eat cheese-free pizza for the rest of your days then you’ll live a pretty miserable life. Firstly see a dietitian, understand your condition, watch youtube videos of other like-minded intolerant people and see how they deal, see what things they can eat, buy a specialised cookbook and experiment with what you can eat!
Regular bloating may also may be a symptom of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in which case you need to see a doctor as IBS is not fun and is not something you should have to suffer through. It requires medication, lifestyle and diet adjustments to get you back on track, to living your life to the fullest. Don’t fret, it’s totally manageable with the right help. Many find that IBS symptoms flare up during times of stress or emotional strain, regardless of what they are eating. Again the key to finding your solution is to find your triggers. Keep a diary, every case is different and the better you monitor your own situation, the better and the easier it will be for you to manage your condition going forward.
Bloating is a symptom people usually experience during recovery from an eating disorder; bulimia or anorexia. This bloating can be intense, uncomfortable and challenging physically and emotionally. In a nutshell the key thing here is to realise that you’re not alone, this is a totally normal part of recovery from an eating disorder and it does not mean you’re tummy is getting bigger just because your started eating again. Any feeling of weight gain from this bloating is completely temporary. It’s just a matter of your digestive system needing time to regulate itself again. Get your doctors advice on a consistent nutrition plan and what medication to take to ease this bloating. If you don’t want to involve a doctor you can try probiotics and/or digestive enzymes from health food shops, the workers there usually have some idea of the products they’re selling and which ones would help you the most. Avoid laxatives and diet teas as these may damage your digestive system in the long-term. Eat regularly, eat slowly and drink enough water. Go easy on yourself, wear loose clothes, give your gut time to heal, it will subside!
Bloating is a side-effect that most people experience after a course of antibiotics. Something I was certainly never told when prescribed them and had to find out the hard way. It’s easily solved by taking a probiotic every day for a week or so after to replace the healthy bacteria lost in the gut. Acidophilus is the particular probiotic that I found the best to take post antibiotics.
I hope this helps! 🙂