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How to prevent bloating after eating

We’ve all experienced an uncomfortably full tummy.

There are lots of things that can contribute to this bloating. Happily, there’s also a lot you can do about it.

You may find the feeling of bloating passes after you’ve had time to digest a big meal. Or your bloating may be persistent and severe—leading to stomach pain, gas and nausea.

As well as following a meal, bloating can gradually get worse towards the end of the day. Up to 50% of people who complain of bloating find that it causes their tummy to stick out [1].

 

What causes stomach bloating after eating?

Bloating occurs when gas becomes trapped in the intestines. It’s surprisingly complex, as there are many factors that can lead to this trapped gas [2]. Some of these include:

 

An imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Even small alterations in bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract (known as dysbiosis) can have a significant impact on gut function.

 

Chomping down food or eating in a hurry can cause air to be swallowed, leading to gas and bloating.

 

Emotions [3]. If you’re ‘stressed’ during meal times, food sits in your stomach for longer. This is because your body’s attention is redirected to manage your nervous system. And it can become a vicious cycle: in one study, women with moderate and severe intestinal bloating reported higher levels of anxiety and depression [4].

 

Diet. Carbohydrates including lactose, fructose and fibre tend to be the main bloating culprits. The small intestine doesn’t always absorb them properly, which means they move into the colon to be fermented by gut bacteria. This fermentation causes gassiness and bloating [5].

 

Changes in bowel habits. Constipation—or simply having fewer bowel movements than normal—can cause bloating. This is because the slow movement of food through the gut encourages more fermentation [7].

 

Food intolerances or sensitivities can mean your body finds it difficult to digest certain foods, leading to bloating. Some of the common intolerances are gluten, lactose and salicylates, but food additives such as MSG, caffeine and alcohol can cause problems too.

 

IBS. After abdominal pain, bloating is the second most common symptom reported by IBS sufferers [8]. Those who have IBS-constipation are usually more prone to bloating because they have fewer bowel movements. Women with IBS typically experience more bloating than men. This may be down to hormonal changes, particularly as bloating is a common symptom of PMS [9].

 

Illness. Gut-related conditions that are linked to bloating and abdominal gas include coeliac disease, SIBO, gastroparesis and diverticulosis [10]. Bloating is common in non-gut related conditions too, such as eating disorders and ovarian cancer [11].

 

Most people have a combination of these factors. For effective treatment, it’s wise to understand the true drivers of bloating before beginning.

 

How to reduce bloating 

 

How to reduce bloating after eating

The good news is there are many dietary and lifestyle solutions that are effective and easy to implement. Start with these:

 

Chew your food properly. This gives the digestive process a head start and fires up important enzymes needed for breaking down and absorbing nutrients.

 

Don’t overeat. Eat until you’re no more than 80% full, and enjoy meals a relaxed environment for optimal digestion.

 

Eliminate problematic foods under the direction of a Registered Nutritional Therapist. Your practitioner will start by removing your suspected trigger foods and then will slowly reintroduce them one at a time until they pinpoint the problem.

 

Try herbs and spices that stimulate digestion. Try adding black pepper, cumin or ginger to recipes. Herbal teas—including fennel, chamomile and peppermint—can relieve bloating.

 

Avoid eating fruit straight after a meal as this will lead to gas and bloating.

 

Limit sugar where possible. This is because sugar feeds the bad bacteria in the gut. If in doubt, get into the habit of reading ingredients labels.

 

Add apple cider vinegar and lemon to your diet. These support stomach acid production and enhance digestion.

 

Add a small amount of fermented food to meals. Miso soup, sauerkraut or sour pickles all contain natural probiotics (good bacteria).

 

Exercise. Squeezing in a brisk 30-minute walk can help increase blood circulation and digestion, which then helps to release gas.

 

Consider supplements. Digestive enzymes, probiotics and some herbal remedies can be beneficial for anyone who experiences bloating.

 

If you suffer from regular bloating or stomach pain after eating, treating the symptoms can provide some temporary relief. However, until you determine the root cause, you’ll likely continue to experience bloating.

If you’re not pregnant or there are no medical reasons for your bloating, it’s best to speak to a Registered Nutritional Therapist. They’ll go through a detailed health history to rule out other conditions that might be associated with your bloating, and provide personalised diet and lifestyle interventions.

No one likes an uncomfortably full tummy—and you don’t have to put up with it.

 

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