We can all agree that bloating...never fun. It's a symptom of the high stress, poor diet that has become the standard and it causes us to feel discomfort in just about every sense of the word. The trick is pinpointing what is causing YOU to bloat up and fixing the root cause. There are many reasons why you may be bloated, here are some of the most common reasons that can easily be resolved:
1. You're eating too fast
A fast-paced world sets the stage for fast-paced eating. Eating too fast causes excess air to be swallowed, and therefore more gas buildup in your stomach. Not to mention, you forget to enjoy your food when you eat too quickly, and is one of the most common reasons why you might still be looking for something more after you finish a meal.
Solution: Try to chew your food about 30 times before swallowing - you'll probably find that this is more than double the amount of time you usually spend chewing. It can be difficult to slow down and get used to eating this way, but it can save you a LOT of discomfort, and it can also keep you from over eating! Ideally, you want to set aside about 20 minutes for mealtime, this gives your body enough time to process your diminishing hunger levels as you eat.
2. Eating Diet/Sugar Free products
Reduced sugar or sugar free products have to make up for the lack of sweetness somehow. Often they will contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which not only is detrimental for our health and carcinogenic, but can be a major suspect when it comes to gas and bloating. In addition to artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols like sorbitol or malitol, when consumed in excess, can have a laxative effect or cause major bloating. Be aware that these ingredients can also hide in many protein bars, powders, and other "health" foods. Always read your labels!
3. Eating too big of meals late at night
If you spend all day holding out for a big dinner in the evening, you're putting way too much load on your body way too late. Our digestion slows when we are sleeping, no surprise, as our bodies begin to focus on things like getting a good night's sleep and recovering. This can cause you to wake up feeling bloated, lethargic, and even nauseous. Spread your caloric intake out more evenly throughout the day and you will drastically improve your bloating AND energy! Remember that calories = energy, so give your body that energy when it needs it the most!
4. You're dehydrated!
Ever notice the day after eating out or drinking alcohol, you become bloated? It might seem counterintuitive, but dehydration (lack of water) causes your body to bloat up in response. The more water you drink (or eat via water- rich veggies), the more hydrated you are and the better your digestion, decreasing bloat. Things that counteract your hydration are sodium, caffeine, and alcohol. Any time you go out to eat, you're probably getting about a day's worth of sodium, or more!
5. You have a food intolerance
A food intolerance or allergy means that your body lacks the proper enzymes to break down and digest that particular food. As a result, your digestion is impaired and part of your body's reaction is an uncomfortable amount of bloating. The best way to assess if you have a food allergy is to see if you can pinpoint any common culprits that lead you to feel bloated after consumption, or see a Gastroenterologist who can target the culprit for you.