Belly bloating is uncomfortable — and it’s the exact opposite of what we want when wearing our favorite duds. Fortunately, there are easy ways to banish your unwanted belly for good. Correct food matching and fiber amounts are just two of the simple switches you can make. These tips will ensure you never suffer from stomach bloat again!
1. Don’t drastically increase your fiber intake
A high-fiber diet is good for your digestive system, lowers cholesterol and blood sugar, and helps you maintain a healthy weight. But for some, it’s also the root cause of bloating. Our bodies can only handle so much fiber, and that amount varies per individual.
“Fiber isn’t digested and absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. People will experience more gas buildup because of the fermentation of fiber or other non-digested carbohydrates in the large intestine,” Toby Smithson, RDN, LDN, CDE, told Everyday Health.
While fiber is excellent for weight loss, too much can make you feel (and look) large and uncomfortable. Increase your fiber intake slowly, and monitor how your body reacts. There’s a good chance you’ll reach a point where you need to back off, and as you add in fiber, also make sure you’re adding in water to push the fiber through—your body doesn’t deal with dehydration and roughage very well.
Take a step back from the “fiber bar” world; it’s unnatural and hard on your digestive system to consume all that fiber in one sitting.
2. Watch your food pairings
Food pairing is based on the science of how food digests optimally in the body. Consuming conflicting foods at the same time can actually cause some major discomfort, like exhaustion, upset stomach, and bloating.
“Digestive enzymes have certain well-defined limitations and that different digestive juices are secreted for use in digesting different kinds of food substances,” Dr. Herbert M. Shelton said in The Beauty Detox Solution, a portion of which was shared on Hip & Healthy. Here are a few other important tips about food pairing from the book:
- Our bodies can properly digest only one concentrated, non-water-containing food at a time (Anything that is not a fruit or a non-starch vegetable is a concentrated food)
- Proteins and starches don’t mix
- Vegetables are neutral
- Mixing two starches is okay
- Don’t mix animal proteins
- Only eat fruit on an empty stomach
If food can’t move through the body properly, you may wind up feeling bad even though the quality of food you’re eating is good. Pay attention to how you’re feeling when eating your food. Some simple changes will have you feeling svelte in no time.
3. Get moving, especially in the morning
Your digestive tract may need some stimulation or stretching to get moving. If your system is operating sluggishly, it definitely means bloating. If possible, make a point to get some kind of exercise in the morning. Better yet, before you get out of bed, stretch to relax your belly and wake up your digestive system.
Bloating problems mid-day can be relieved by exercise: brisk walking, jumping jacks, or, if these are too jarring, yoga. As Zayna Gold, creator of Healing Through Movement and a Boston-based yoga instructor, told Health magazine: “Fifteen minutes of yoga will help ease your pain.”
Gold’s favorite moves for digestion: hug your knees to your chest, do a bridge pose, and incorporate poses that require twists.
4. Ditch dairy, gluten, or other irritants
If it’s difficult for your body to digest, chances are it causes bloating. Dairy is a good example of a common food source that isn’t easily digested. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy.”
Bloating is one of the first, and most common, signs of lactose intolerance. Dairy isn’t as easy to avoid as you’d think, so if you suspect that you have a problem with dairy, check labels carefully. Whey, a protein found in milk, can be found in yogurt, chips, nutritional shakes, and more.
For a more extensive list of possible irritants, the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation has put together a collection of hard-to-digest, or FODMAP, foods.