Most of us have experienced the feeling of being bloated, when your tummy is stretched, puffy and uncomfortable. It often happens after a big weekend or over a festive season. But for some people, bloating is more than an occasional inconvenience.
If your stomach or tummy often feels bloated, it could be due to:
- excess wind
- swallowing air (from talking while eating etc)
- food intolerance
- irritable bowel syndrome
Cut down on foods known to cause wind and bloating, such as:
But make sure you still eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
If you get constipation, take steps to prevent it with a fibre-rich diet, drinking lots of fluids and taking regular exercise. Even a 20-30 minute brisk walk four times a week can improve your bowel function.
Try not to swallow too much air. Don’t talk and eat at the same time, sit down to eat (sitting upright and not slumped over), reduce the amount of fizzy drinks you consume, stop chewing gum and chew with your mouth closed so that you’re not taking in excess air.
Food intolerance can lead to bloating when:
- Your bowel doesn’t empty properly.
- The food causes gas to be trapped.
- Too much gas is produced as a reaction to the food.
The main offenders are wheat or gluten and dairy products. The best approach if you have a food intolerance is to eat less of the culprit food or cut it out completely.
Keep a food diary for a couple of weeks, noting everything that you eat and drink and when bloating troubles you most. But don't get rid of food groups long-term without advice from your GP.
Read more about food intolerance.
Irritable bowel syndrome
People with irritable bowel syndrome often complain of bloating, especially in the evening. The bloating of IBS doesn’t seem to be linked with excess wind. It’s thought to be down to erratic propulsion of contents through the bowel. It can help to cut down on fatty or high-fibre foods. Peppermint tea or capsules have also been reported to help ease IBS symptoms.
Read more about IBS and its treatment.
If your bloating symptoms persist, consult your GP.
Now read what to eat to help your digestion.