Bloating. Has it ruined a romantic date? Embarrassed you in the middle of a meeting? Left you feeling uncomfortable all day? You’re not alone. Over 30% of Americans say they’re in the same boat. However, most digestive issues are completely correctable with diet alone. Before you get lost in your very serious WebMD diagnosis, read down our tell-all list. This week we’re exposing the bloat’s biggest culprits and how you can fix them yourself.
Slow your roll
Your grandma wasn’t yelling for nothing folks. Did you know it takes the brain at least 20 minutes to recognize it’s full? Quick eaters often overeat due to this delay. Rushing through your meals can also result in swallowing more air as you eat, resulting abdominal bloat and discomfort. Finally, speed-eaters tend to not chew their food enough. As your body works overtime to product more bacteria, you may be left unbuttoning your jeans with discomfort from the bloating. Do yourself a favor and prioritize time to eat. Find nutrient-rich options to enjoy slowly during your commute or meal prep dinner so you are prepared to feed yourself without the rush.
Milk it for what it’s worth
Most of us have felt some degree of discomfort from dairy products at one point or another. Commonly mislabeled as an allergy, lactose intolerance is actually caused due to the lack of the lack of the enzyme lactase. This allows the undigested milk sugar, lactose, to drag water down into the gut causing discomfort, bloating, and gas. If these seem familiar, try eliminating dairy from your diet for a week and record how your body reacts. Then you can reintroduce dairy in smaller portions into your diet. If you’re seeking easier options, try to stick to yogurt and hard cheeses that are lower in lactose or try dairy free options like lactose-free or nut milks.
Yes, this one made me sad too. Fake sugar is in fact not the dieter’s friend. The sugar alcohols in fake sugars like sorbitol and mannitol are barely digested, if at all. This barely digestible alcohol then ferments in your small intestine, causing gas and general discomfort. Limit yourself to 3 or less pieces of gum, one sugar-free dessert, or one sugar-free beverage a day. If you’re an overachiever, find swaps to completely cut these sugar-free substitutes out of your diet entirely.
It’ll fizz out
We know it’s true, but we crave the crispness of carbonation. America’s flirtation with soda and sparkling water is downright built into our culture. As we enjoy our beverage of choice, we are swallowing air that will continue to build up in our intestines (usually resulting in an embarrassing situation!). In addition, diet soda addicts get a double hit to the bloated gut with the added complication of sugar alcohols. If you’re a soda addict, try cutting back and switching to sparking water until you can cut yourself off completely. If you are less addicted, limit yourself to one carbonated beverage per day.
Don’t be salty
Salt is the leading cause of bloating for most adults. How does that work? Doesn’t salt lead to dehydration? Our body is a giant scale, accommodating for excess salt intake by retaining extra water to balance things out. The simplest way to ensure you’re not holding extra fluid is to drink plenty of water slowly throughout your day. Steady intake is the best way to ensure complete hydration. Limiting excessively salty food items and instead seeking lower sodium options will also help you beat the bloat throughout the day.