We Asked A Dietitian How To Reduce Bloating The Healthy Way

We Asked A Dietitian How To Reduce Bloating The Healthy Way

We all know the feeling. Right before our cycle hits and not too long after a fibrous meal, we get the bulky discomfort in our stomach known as bloating. It’s similar to the feeling of having a balloon in your belly, making you feel swollen, puffy, and well, gassy. Bloating is a common digestive issue that many people experience at some point in their lives and is characterized by a feeling of fullness, tightness, and swelling in the abdomen, often accompanied by gas and discomfort.

Bloating can be caused by a variety of things. Maybe you ate a little too much food and now your stomach is processing the build-up of gas. Or maybe your hormones are regulating in preparation for the time of the month. Whatever the case may be, while bloating is a common occurrence in our body, it’s an uncomfortable feeling that you don’t have to live with once you identify the cause of it.

In fact, bloating could be revealing something important about our body that we may want to listen to. “It’s letting us know that something in our digestive system isn't quite right,” Carlie Saint-Laurent Beaucejour, MS, RD, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist tells xoNecole. “It's a way for our body to let us know that it may have too much gas or air coming in. Or it could be something deeper depending on how frequently you get bloating.”

According to Saint-Laurent Beaucejour, "one in seven people experience bloating throughout the week, so it is a common bodily function. But just because something is common doesn't mean that's necessarily normal."

What Causes Bloating?

One of the primary causes of bloating is the consumption of gas-producing foods, such as beans, broccoli, onions, and cabbage. These foods contain complex carbohydrates that are difficult for the body to digest, leading to the production of gas in the gut. Other dietary factors that can contribute to bloating include eating too quickly, overeating, and consuming high-fat or spicy foods.

“What I see in my practice when someone says they’re bloated, it comes down to their diet,” she says. “Food definitely has an impact in causing bloating. Certain foods do produce gas, like cruciferous vegetables and beans, so someone's diet can be a common cause.” From what we eat to how we eat, Saint-Laurent Beaucejour says that when it comes down to our digestion, it all starts in the mouth. “Even how you chew your food can impact you if your food goes down too quickly. How you chew your food and swallow it affects digestion.”

In addition to dietary factors, certain lifestyle habits can also cause bloating. Swallowing air while eating or drinking can lead to the accumulation of gas in the digestive tract, along with chewing gum, drinking carbonated beverages, and smoking. One surprising discovery is that even not eating can make someone experience bloating in an unexpected way. “So many people are going long periods of time without eating. This can cause gassiness from excess air because you're just breathing but not eating,” she shares.

With so many causes of bloating, how do you determine the reason behind yours? For Saint-Laurent Beaucejour, it’s all about paying close attention to our bodies. “Really get curious — what did I eat recently? Have I done anything differently in my routine? Is there a particular food or food group that every time I do eat it, I'm noticing the symptoms?” she shares.

In order to keep track of these changes, Saint-Laurent Beaucejour says that food journaling is a helpful practice that she encourages her clients to implement on their health journey. “Food journaling can be helpful in determining and noticing the patterns of how you're eating. With food journaling, it's not so much that you are getting enough calories. It's more about paying attention to your daily habits,” she says. Listening, slowing down and food journaling can definitely be a way to see the cause of bloating.”

"Food journaling can be helpful in determining and noticing the patterns of how you're eating. With food journaling, it's not so much that you are getting enough calories. It's more about paying attention to your daily habits."

And while there always seems to be a new supplement and powders circulating online that promises to relieve our bloating, Saint-Laurent Beaucejour advises that one-size-fits-all remedies should be assessed with cautious curiosity. “I am a believer of personalized nutrition. Do what works for you. And if it's food-related, put food first,” she shares. “If you’re bloated and want to add supplements, can we get those nutrients incorporated into the foods from those green powders (like lettuce and kale) from actual food?”

She continues, “We're all different. Some research does back it up, but understand that these studies are sample sizes, they're not you as an individual. That's why meeting with a dietician or healthcare professional who can focus on you is so important.”

The first step to alleviating bloating is to identify and address your unique, underlying cause. And while bloating usually subsides spontaneously within a 24-hour period, it’s always helpful to have a few remedies and solutions in your back pocket for when bloating hits.

Reset Your Mindset

“I know my dietician, but it also comes down to self-talk and mindset. When you see bloating around your period, that can really mess with your head. Like, what am I doing? Why am I gaining this weight? But understand that bloating is temporary for the most part and for most people. Listen to your body and see what could be triggering it. Practice mindful eating by taking your time with eating, not rushing it, and chewing your food thoroughly so you can help your stomach not work as hard.”

Move Your Body

“Incorporate movement when you’re bloated. Take a 15-minute walk, ride a bike, or even just stretch to get my digestive system going.”

Stay Hydrated

“Hydration is something that we may not be getting enough of. So making sure you're staying hydrated, getting enough water, and avoiding foods that can dehydrate you like alcohol and caffeine is key.”

Natural Remedies

“Try drinking ginger and peppermint teas. I’m Caribbean, so we put cloves in a lot of our dishes. One of the reasons why we put cloves in our rice and beans is to help reduce that gassiness and bloating — so cloves can be very helpful.”

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