Did you know that humans pass gas up to 25 times a day? And that´s a totally normal amount and nothing concerning? However a lot of people are hyper aware of being gassy and bloated. And especially for people coming from an restrictive eating patter, the increasing size of their belly throughout the day can be scary. So, let´s talk about it all. Gas, healthy bloating. Feeling full after a meal. When you should consider seeing a professional and I am giving you my best tips to deal with it all.
Why does it happen?
When we talk about bloating, we actually talk about a gas accumulation in the gastrointestinal area. When food is getting broken down, it is normal to occasionally bloat as the food moves through the digestive system due to increased gas-production, swallowing air or reduced absorption of gas by the blood. This feeling of fullness or tightness in the abdomen normally passes after a short period of time. Bloating can be not visible at all or show a slightly increased size of the abdomen. It only makes sense that your stomach expands when you are putting something in it.
But bloating is not to be confused with distention. Distention referrers to a swelling of the abdomen itself. Signs amongst the swelling can be nausea, discomfort and pain. This is the kind of type where you stand in front of a mirror wondering whether you are actually 5 months pregnant or just carrying a heavy food baby. The reasons behind this can be mild digestive issues, hormonal changes (like during your menstrual cycle) or more serious health conditions.
For both conditions it is normal, to increase throughout the day, decrease over night and to happen temporarily after a meal.
When distention becomes “unhealthy”
When it comes with pain, diarrhoea, constantly constipation, heartburn, nausea, cramps, an excessive amount of wind, foul wind, or any other symptoms that are restricting the quality of life.
However it is normal, when you are coming from an restrictive eating pattern that you are experiencing more bloating. Your gut needs time to adjust, since our Micro Biome changes depending on what we eat. When you start including the kind of foods again, you haven´t eaten for a period of time, you are most likely to experience uncomfortable fullness and bloating. Give your body time to adjust and work on improving your body image by accepting your body in all shapes and sizes. As I mentioned before: It only makes sense that your body shape will change throughout the day, once you put food in it – as you are supposed to do.
If the symptoms hold on and become debilitating, I highly recommend seeing a doctor or a gut health professional.
Habits that can cause bloating
- not chewing your food properly. Digestion starts in our mouth. We do not only chop up the food mechanically, the enzymatic digestion starts here. If you are not chewing your food properly, it doesn´t get mixed up with saliva well enough, so your digestive system has to take up the work.
- Caffeinated or fizzy drinks. Caffeinated drinks may inhibit the secretion of stomach acids and digestive enzymes. This can lead to undigested foods passing the small intestine. The gas in fizzy drinks on the other hand induce gas in your digestive system.
- tight pants/cloths and position of eating: Too tight cloths make it harder for the food to pass the digestive system just like bending over the plate does. Sitting upright and losending your pants can be super helpful to prevent bloating.
- hydration: Not drinking enough water and eating too much fibre can lead to constipation
- Stress: Your digestion slows down because your body is saving energy, which causes fermentation
- Large, fatty meals: More food goes hand in hand with a longer time of digestion, which again lead to fermentation and bloating.
My best tips
Successful stress management looks different for everyone. Sime people love to journal, some to colour in, draw or paint, crochet, cook or go for a walk. Meditating, listening to podcasts or even reading a book can help to lower your stress level. A slow morning or evening routine can do wonders as well. The only thing, I want to mention here is: Working out (even doing Yoga) can put your body under stress as well. Sometimes just laying down and relaxing your body is best!
Reach for warm drinks, compresses and thoughts. Chamomile, ginger, anis and peppermint are my favourite types of teas to lower bloating. Put a hot water bottle or a warm bag of beans on your lower stomach. It works because heat reduces any tensions. By warm thoughts I am talking about kind thoughts. Do not beat yourself up for having a bloated belly, try to shift your focus away from the bloat. Feeling full after a meal means you provided yourself with energy and nutrients, as you are supposed to do. Overeating happens to the best intuitive eating coaches as well.
monitor your fibre intake
Do not increase your fibre intake from one day to another drastically. Fibre indeed is great for a healthy Micro Biome, and can prevent constipation by increasing the bulk and softness of your stool. In total 30 -50g of fibre is great.
Moving can get things moving. But to help your gut, you don´t have to go for hours of running or doing HIIT workouts. Stretching sessions, a slow walk or Yoga can do wonders.
be aware of foods that make you feel more gassy and bloated
As I mentioned above, it is normal to have digestive issues first after coming from an restrictive diet. But after a while your micro biom should adjust. However sometimes your body is not able to produce certain enzymes. When you are experiencing debilitating bloating even after a while of including all kind of foods – try to observe when the bloating is more severe and when less. A food journal can help to find the best diet for your body.
Personally – I feel super bloated and uncomfortable after eating lettuce, pasta, certain protein bars or a higher amount of dairy. Moderation is key here for me.
One thing, that will help you the most: Make peace with the swelling of your belly. It is normal not to look the same every day. It is normal for your stomach to be more extended at the end of a full day of eating. Bloating is nothing to be ashamed of and a bloated belly won´t make you less worthy or lovable. When you are struggling with body checking in general, check this blog post out!