One day you’re able to slide your jeans on easily. The next, you’re wrestling with the button. What the heck? It’s not that you’ve gained weight magically overnight, more likely that you’re bloated.
Bloating is what happens when your intestinal tract is filled with gas. It causes your gut to stick out, feel tight, and be uncomfortable. In order to know how to get rid of bloating, we have to first look at what causes bloating in the first place.
There are many reasons why you might be feeling bloated. Some common ones include:
- Incomplete digestion – you might lack the enzymes or proper acid balance to digest food completely.
- Eating too fast – usually means you’re not chewing properly which makes it harder on your body to break down food.
- Drinking carbonated drinks – puts gas into your system. Best to avoid these for optimal gut health.
- Food sensitivities – these can be sneaky because they can go undetected. Certain foods might irritate your gut and this irritation can cause bloating, among other symptoms.
- Eating too much sugar- the bacteria and yeast in your gut feed on sugar. When they’re well fed, they produce gas which results in bloating.
- Dysbiosis- a fancy word for an imbalance in your gut bacteria.
- Drinking cold water with meals – cold water will halt digestion and make the whole process slower.
- Eating cold food – some bodies don’t process cold food well because it can be difficult to digest.
- Eating too much – larger quantities of food are harder for your body to break down.
- Stress (mental/emotional) – slows down digestion, making it harder for the body to process your food.
- Hormone changes – influence digestion and can cause inflammation in your gut. This is particularly common in women.
- Being too busy – when your mind is racing, your body can’t slow down. Digestion is compromised leading to bloating.
- Too little exercise – body movement encourages your GI tract to move as well, releasing gas and waste that can cause bloating.
As you can see there are so many different reasons why you might be feeling bloated. This list is only scratching the surface. There’s no one size fits all approach to get rid of bloating for good, because there are so many factors that contribute to it.
If you deal with chronic bloating, you’ve likely experienced with your diet to try and find a solution. Have you considered that there’s more to solving the problem than diet alone?
The best solution to bloating is to take a holistic approach. The digestive system is sensitive to what’s going on in the rest of your body. For example, stress at work will set off a stress response in your body, releasing hormones that slow down digestion. Suddenly your ability to digest and process food is compromised because of a bad conversation with your boss.
Too often we forget that our mind and body are interconnected, and that what happens mentally/emotionally will affect our physiology.
Keeping this in mind, here’s a formula for a holistic approach to dealing with bloating:
Food and Digestion
What you eat, and how well your body processes it are important to consider when you’re trying to get rid of bloating. Some tips to optimize your body’s experience with food are:
- Eat slowly
- Avoid drinking a lot of liquid with your meals. Drinks should be room temperature or warmer.
- Reduce your sugar intake to give the bacteria in your gut less to feed on, and to lower inflammation.
- Chew, chew, chew. Ideally until each bite is a paste before swallowing. Digestion begins in your mouth.
- Watch your portion sizes. Smaller quantities are easier to digest.
- Eliminate food sensitivities. This can be tricky to do on your own, but a nutritionist or health coach can help.
- Avoid carbonated drinks.
- Eat in a relaxed state. Don’t rush. Allow yourself to sit and digest after eating.
- Use digestive enzymes if you suspect your digestion is compromised.
- Ensure you fast 12 hours overnight to give your digestive system a break.
Mental / Emotional
The gut is often referred to as our “second brain” and for good reason. The nerves that run through your gut connect directly to your brain. This means that your thoughts and the feelings they produce will have a direct effect on your gut.
Managing your mental stress and processing your feelings will have a big impact on your gut. This is often overlooked. Here are some tips to get started:
- Practice deep breathing daily. This will calm your nervous system and put your body (and gut) at ease. Aim for 5 minutes a few times per day.
- Feel your feelings. Allow yourself to feel and process the emotions that are coming up for you. Use a technique that works for you – journal, talk it out, or do physical activity that allows you to get your emotions out.
- Reduce stress. This is a big one on it’s own. Stress hormones directly impact your gut microbiome. Try yoga, meditation, and fun activities to bring your stress level down.
- Sleep 7-9 hours per night. This is time for your body to rest and recover. It also helps your body deal with stress.
- Connect with loved ones. We underestimate the power of social connection on our health. Feeling connection and joy will put your body at ease, your gut included.
When you keep your body moving, all of your systems function more efficiently. Here are some tips for movement to reduce bloating:
- Walk for 15-30 minutes each day to encourage your bowels to move.
- Practice yoga. Postures like twists to encourage the release of gas in your intestines. Yoga will also help relax your mind and bring you into the present moment, great things for your gut health.
- Avoid long periods of strenuous exercise. If your gut is off, chances are your body is already under stress. Intense exercise can add more stress to your system which is counterproductive. Choose moderate exercise instead.
As you’re working on your diet and lifestyle, here are a few things that might help you manage bloating when it comes on:
- Cool your gut. Bloating is a sign of inflammation. Use an ice pack to cool your gut (ideally through a towel to avoid direct contact with your skin) to help the inflammation settle.
- Peppermint oil. You can use peppermint essential oil directly on your stomach when you’re bloated. Apply it to your skin and let it absorb. The peppermint oil will help break up the gas in your gut and reduce bloating.
- Magnesium spray. This works especially well if you’re constipated since magnesium will relax your muscles and allow your bowels to move.
- Digestive tea. There are dozens of different formulas in the tea aisle. Look for a combination of peppermint, fennel, and ginger to soothe your gut from the inside out.
As you can see, there’s no quick fix to resolving chronic bloating. There really is no replacement for a healthy diet and lifestyle factors that reduce stress and keep you connected to your body.
It can be difficult to know where to start on your own. The Eats & Asana program is an 8-week step-by-step process that walks you through creating the foundation for a healthy holistic life.
It includes a food framework to help you figure out what’s best for your body, as well as yoga and mindfulness practices to get you connected to your body. Want to know if Eats & Asana is a fit for you? Book your Body-Love Breakthrough Call here to find out more.