Happy New Year, y’all! New Years Day has always been my most favorite day of the year…and not just because I get to have mimosas and not feel guilty. It’s the day that I don’t mind getting up early because I “get” to have champagne before coffee. Unfortunately lately I’ve been feeling bloated all the time.
Why Am I Bloated All The Time?
I mean, that’s totally acceptable, right? Obviously, my holiday eating habits need an overhaul, and this year, I’m working on making some major changes.
It’s the holidays, and I have a slight history of overeating. I mean, on Christmas I served up all of my favorite foods…mashed
potatoes cauliflower with gravy, brined and roasted turkey, ham, roasted green beans, two kinds of stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce…
And now I’m hungry again.
Most years I opt for seconds, but this year, starting at Thanksgiving, I opted for a normal size plate.
And you know what? This Thanksgiving was the first year that I can remember where I didn’t need to take a nap, chow down on Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice, or lay on my belly praying for it to go down (yes, I really do that. Judge away.)
The problem is not just that I eat too much at the holidays, it’s that I end up feeling bloated all the time.
Please tell me it’s not just me. I can’t be the only one who has felt bloated all the time.
Do you ever feel a bit overextended or gassy after a meal…for days after a meal?
Thankfully, bloating is common. And it happens when you have trouble digesting your food in an efficient manner.
This poor digestion causes embarrassing symptoms like really smelly excess gas, reactions to certain foods, or food being properly broken down (please don’t make me go into detail on this).
Why do We Bloat?
I reached a point earlier this year where I was tired of looking 4 months pregnant all the time. And I was tired of not feeling good. So I started to do some research.
What I found was that there are a whole bunch of reasons that you may end up bloated.
You could have a chronic condition or a food intolerance. The wake-up call for me was realizing that being bloated all the time most likely was a result not of what, but of how you are eating.
That being said, if you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), it would be prudent to eat according to the diet that your naturopath or doctor or nutritionist has put you on.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are some simple tips that have helped me reduce my bloating. It’s not totally gone, but I’m definitely not boated all the time anymore.
Eat Smaller Portions
When you overindulge, you end up feeling like you’re carrying a food baby.
Basically, you end up feeling super bloated. Your stomach is distended, and likely hard. You’ll feel pressure in your abdomen.
When this happens, you’re giving your digestive system a hard time.
It’s far better to eat until you feel almost full and then just stop. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you’ve had enough.
Try it today at your next meal-stop before you really feel full and set an alarm. If you’re still hungry 20 minutes later, then eat a little more.
You can get extra points if you break your huge meals into smaller ones and insert some snacks throughout the day to tide you over.
Beware of Sugar Alcohols
I get it, they’re in all the diet food.
I think that we’ve forgotten that sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners made from sugars. Yep, I remember when Stevia was introduced and people were warned to “start slow” in case of bloating or discomfort.
And then, BOOM, they were in everything and are actually very hard to avoid. But if you’re like me, eating too many sugar alcohols ends up in painful bloating and embarrassing gas (sorry not sorry).
In order to avoid them, you need to know what to look for. In any ingredients list, look for the ingredients that end in “ol” (think sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol).
Often, you’ll find these little buggers in chewing gums and nearly all sugar-free foods.
Chew Less Gum
Stay with me here. This was a hard one for me, too. I regularly chew gum so that I don’t snack all day long…but it turns out that all the air I swallow may actually be contributing to my being bloated all the time.
Apparently, the gas that causes pressure in your digestive system may be from swallowing air.
You can swallow air when you chew gum or drink through a straw, but you also add air to your digestive system when you guzzle carbonated drinks.
And, you can also swallow air while eating too quickly or even when talking. I know, you can’t stop talking, but maybe try slowing your speech down enough so that you’re not gasping for breath.
Trust me, inhaling your food is not doing your digestion any favors.
When you take smaller bites and chew them thoroughly, you help your body be more efficient in its use of that food.
I talked about mindfulness earlier this week, and it’s not surprising that being mindful of your food has benefits.
Stress does all kinds of terrible things to your body. Trust me on this. When Smalls was in the hospital, even though I was eating healthy foods I gained weight because of my stress level.
Interestingly, stress can cause bloating. Consider meditating, doing some deep breathing, saying no, or reducing your workload if possible and see if that doesn’t help to lower your stress level and slim your waistline.
Peppermint has been shown to decrease belly bloat, which is awesome.
Chew on some fresh peppermint leaves or sip on peppermint tea.
Peppermint is thought to help relax your stomach muscles which will help increase the flow of bile (gross but true).
There are a whole lot of things you can do to help yourself not feel bloated all the time. By avoiding the things that you notice make bloating worse, you end up not only feeling better but improving your overall health.
It’s a win-win.
Remember to avoid bloating if you can. Don’t eat things give you gas or cause you pain, and then:
- try not to overeat,
- avoid sugar alcohols when you can,
- cut down on the gum chewing,
- eat slower, and
- work on lowering your stress level.
And, if you are experiencing bloating, sip on peppermint tea to help your body move things along.
If you are still bloated and you’ve been working hard to do all of these things, then you may have a food intolerance. If you suspect this is the case, try eliminating the offending food for 21 days and then slowly re-introducing it to see if it is, in fact, the culprit.
Many people who suspect multiple foods to be the issue have success with the Whole30 as long as they do it fully, including proper reintroduction.
So tell me…