Whilst overeating is definitely a cause, there are other key things to consider if you’re feeling gassy and uncomfortable, ranging from what you eat to the way you eat. If you’re looking to banish your bloating for good, try our seven secrets to digestive health...
1. Don’t talk with your mouth full
It turns out our mothers knew what they were talking about. Talking while eating causes you to swallow more air, which can contribute to bloating and problems of flatulence.
2. Keep calm... and carry on eating
Try to relax as you eat. Stress causes the digestive system to shut down, such that your stomach doesn’t produce as much acid as normal making it harder to digest food. This is so that energy can be directed elsewhere in the body to help you cope with stress. This means food sits in the digestive tract for longer where it ferments, leading to bloating. It’s worth trying to schedule your mealtimes during downtime to enjoy your chow.
3. Get on the chew-chew train
It’s really important to chew your food thoroughly. By chewing your food as much as possible, your food can mix with your saliva which contains vital digestive enzymes to help you to digest your food. When food doesn’t get chewed properly, it goes through your digestive tract undigested where it can ferment and cause bloating and flatulence. A bonus of chewing thoroughly is that it helps you to be more conscious of how much you’re eating, making you less likely to overeat
4. Be less radical with raw veggies
Eating raw veggies can be healthy as you retain all of the goodness by not exposing them to excessive levels of heat, which would otherwise destroy some of the nutrients. However, veggies contain a lot of fibre which can be tricky for your digestive system to digest all at once. Consider lightly steaming or roasting some of your veg to help break down some of the fibres so that it’s easier on your digestive system
5. Is gum making you glum?
As much as we love chewing gum, it’s important to be sparing with it. Gum often contains substances like xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol which can contribute to gas and the dreaded bloat. Chewing gum can also cause you to swallow more air which can also lead to problems of flatulence and bloating.
6. Find harmony with your hormones
Women, we’re speaking to you on this one. Fluctuating hormone levels through your cycle can also contribute to this uncomfortable issue: your progesterone level increases just before your period which causes your bowel muscles to relax and there’s less efficient movement of movement of food through your digestive tract. In addition, being on a high oestrogen pill can contribute to bloating, as high levels of oestrogen have been linked to water retention. If this sounds familiar, you may want to consider following our seven secrets a bit more closely during the most troublesome week of your period. Also, it would be worth nixing caffeine, sugar and alcohol so that your liver can focus on metabolising your hormones instead, helping to move them out of your blood circulation and therefore out of trouble much faster.
7. Slow down on salt
A high intake of salt can cause your body to hold on water to prevent dehydration, which can lead to bloating. Be especially mindful when it comes to packaged foods!
In addition to our seven secrets, here are some other factors you might want to consider to reduce the occurrence of bloating:
Practice mindful eating
No longer just about meditation, mindful eating has become an increasingly popular way to help slow down our eating and savour our food without the distraction of the TV or internet. By doing this, we become more aware of the internal and external cues to eat1, and over time, interrupts the compulsion to eat unless you’re actually hungry. Research has found that mindful eating can lead to a reduced impulsive eating2 and assist with weight loss3.
To eat mindfully:
- Eat only when your body tells you (i.e. your energy levels are flagging, or your stomach is growling) and stop when you’re full
- Eat with others, and try to eat at set times (within reason)
- Eat a nutritionally dense diet
- Focus on your eating when you’re eating (that means no phones or TV, and chewing your food thoroughly)
Balance is best
As in all aspects of life, it’s important to have a balanced diet so that you’re giving your body all the fuel it needs to get you through the day. By easing up on foods that cause you bloating, you’ll feel more vibrant and be less affected by your uncomfortable symptoms.
It’s not uncommon to mistake your thirst for hunger. Make sure you’re drinking water to keep you hydrated, energised, and help food move through your digestive tract to keep your bloating down.
Consider digestive enzymes and probiotic supplements
To aid your gut function, consider taking digestive enzymes, which help you break down food, and/or probiotics to re-colonise your gut with good bacteria, and to help with further digestion and absorption of nutrients from your food.
Do you frequently feel bloated?
Get a free, in-depth analysis of your health and find out what your body needs to optimise your digestive health.