Bloating is the topic that nutrition experts get asked about the most. As I'm sure we can all relate, being bloated is annoying, uncomfortable, unpredictable, and can even impact our happiness.
To help you deal, we asked 10 nutrition experts for their top tips on how handle bloating, from preventing it to surviving when your pants feel like they've shrunk two sizes after a meal.
Here’s what they recommend…
1. Prevent Bloating With a Healthy Gut
Certified Nutritionist Aly Shoom suggests incorporating probiotics to prevent bloat from occurring in the first place.
“I find taking a high quality probiotic as part of my everyday routine really makes a huge difference. I would suggest a probiotic that has at least 15 billion CFU and contains a variety of bacteria strains.”
Also be sure to incorporate naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir and kombucha. These foods are high in probiotics to keep your gut healthy and your tummy happy.
2. Make Time to Rest & Digest
Maggie Chilton, RHN emphasizes the importance of digestive down time.
“Stop eating after your evening meal (so no later than 7pm), make that the last food you eat until breakfast the next day. That means no late night snacking. Give your body time to digest, absorb and assimilate the food you had for dinner before eating mindfully again in the morning.”
By avoiding overeating before bedtime you can also improve your sleep quality which makes for better digestion, lower stress levels, and higher energy throughout the day.
3. Boost Your Stomach Acid
Holistic Nutritionist Laura Wood shared this fun fact: “Most signs we take for too much stomach acid are actually rooted in too little.”
“I find the most important way to prevent bloating is making sure the stomach has enough acid to actually digest food properly. That means prevention is key! To make sure you're going to digest your food properly and prevent bloating later on, try having 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar in a small amount of room temperature water 30 minutes before meals that normally cause problems.”
Though it seems counterintuitive, increasing your stomach acid will actually reduce heartburn/acid reflux by maintaining the proper pH in your stomach.
4. Get Consistent Fibre
“Chances are, you eat balanced, focusing on fruit, veg, and whole grain on weekdays. Then weekends roll around, and things get out of hand. With booze, burgers, and frozen desserts, the variation in eating sends your bowels on a fibre rollercoaster.”
Registered Dietician Andrea Hardy explains that this behavior can lead to sluggish, bloated bowels.
“The easiest way to help prevent this fibre rollercoaster is to make an effort to get that fibre in consistently. It doesn't mean you can't do barbecues, or margaritas. It just means you need to put a bit of thought into how you're going to get that fibre in.”
She suggests keeping breakfasts consistent and high in fibre, like “a sprouted grain toast with peanut butter, and berries on the side … or a fruit smoothie, with a handful of spinach, a 1/4 avocado, and a bit of chia or flax.”
Andrea also shared her secret weapon for getting in fibre at social events: That Clean Life’s Roasted Carrots with Lentils and Tahini recipe. “When you attend any event, bring a high fibre dish! Chock-full of fibre, this recipe is a real crowd pleaser!”
5. Put Down Your Phone
Naturopathic Doctor Shannon Vander Doelen reminds us to use our table manners, “I always recommend that my patients avoid eating while distracted or on the run. So this means putting down your phone, stepping away from your desk, or turning off Netflix, and really focusing on the task at hand - eating.”
“Chew your food thoroughly. Chewing is the first step in the digestion assembly line, so if this isn't done well then the rest of the steps down the chain are going to struggle to do their job appropriately. Focusing on the fact that you are eating allows your body to release stomach acid and digestive enzymes, which are the first hit of chemical digestion. If you're distracted or stressed, your body doesn't clue in to the fact that you're eating (#priorities), so the chemicals required for digestion are not going to be released in time. Inefficiently digested food can be a big trigger for bloating!”
6. Consider What You Are Eating
Registered Dietician Nicole Osinga points out that sometimes, even healthy foods can cause bloating.
“Track FODMAP containing foods in your diet, to assess if they are the culprits behind your bloating. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oglisaccharides, Disaccharides, Mono-Saccharides and Polyols. These sugars can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and instead make there way to the large intestine (where food doesn’t belong) and are fermented by bacteria, which produces gas and bloating."
"FODMAPs are found in fructose-containing foods (cherries, apples and watermelon, honey, high-frucose corn syrups, lactose-containing foods (cow/goat/sheep milk, ice cream, soft cheeses like cottage cheese or ricotta, milk chocolate, sour cream), fructan-containing foods (wheat, rye, onions and garlic), galactan-containing foods (chickpeas, beans, black-eyed peas, lentils and soy) and polyols
(cherries, apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines).”
If you suspect you have a FODMAP intolerance, you should seek the advice of a medical professional as it may be an indicator of an underlying health issue for which a Low FODMAP diet could be required.
7. Check in With Your Emotions
Amber Romaniuk, C.H.N explained that emotional eating can be really hard on digestion for the same reason that distracted eating can.
“Take some time to be aware of your emotions before you eat, as eating while you are upset, sad, angry or stressed can put the body into fight or flight. Then we don't breakdown and digest our food properly which can leave us feeling bloated and in pain. Check in before you eat and take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down if you are emotionally upset and you will notice a massive difference in your digestion.”
If you are the kind of person who mostly struggles with bloating when you eat out – this could be why! Sometimes being around large groups of people can make us feel nervous, leading to poor digestion. Pay attention to calming yourself in these situations.
8. Drink Dandelion Tea
“My top tip to decrease bloating is drinking Dandelion Tea,”* nutritionist Kara Stout told us.
“It's such a wonderful detoxifying tea, and I highly recommend keeping it on hand for whenever you feel bloated. Often my clients excitedly tell me they notice a difference overnight! I swear by this magical de-bloating tea, and all those who I've recommended it to have also attested to it's awesome effectiveness.”
Dandelion tea is available at most health food stores. Be sure to choose a tea made with the root of the dandelion, and steep it for 15-20 minutes before drinking.
9. Rotate Your Foods
If you tend to eat the same foods day-after-day, you should consider switching things up according to Naturopathic Doctor Tara Campbell.
“Too much of one food source (ie. too many eggs, or too many nuts) will end up causing bloating, digestive imbalances GI inflammation, and micronutrient and microflora imbalances in the long run. Bloating is caused by a variety of factors from depleted digestive enzymes, gut inflammation, and micronutrient imbalances, all of which can be caused from eating too much of one thing and not enough of the other important nutrients. Variety of healthy foods is key.”
10. Sip on Some Ginger Lemon Tea
Nutritionist Jordana Hart shared her recipe for bloat-fighting Ginger Lemon Tea.
“My favourite way to prevent and relieve bloating is by sipping on homemade ginger lemon tea. Adding in ginger helps to calm your digestive tract, and the fresh lemon serves as a diuretic to flush out excess sodium that your body may be holding on to.”
To make it, add the juice from 1/2 lemon and a 2-inch piece of chopped, peeled ginger to a mug. Pour over a cup or 2 of boiling water and sip it slowly.