More people than ever seem to be suffering from this and are desperately searching for solutions. There are many possible underlying reasons for this. While some root causes need more investigation and treatment, others require very simple remedies. If you ever feel this kind of pain, try these simple strategies that you can start implementing TODAY to start feeling better.
Don’t eat when you’re stressed
This is an obvious one, but it’s not just your waistline that appreciates this advice. Your digestive system will thank you too. Stress prevents digestive hormones, enzymes and stomach acid from being released which prevents your food from being broken down and absorbed. Ever heard of fight or flight mode? When your body is in this state, digestion shuts down. If you eat when your digestion isn't functioning, you won't benefit from your nutrients and you will be very uncomfortable shortly after. Practice mindful eating! Before you take that first bite do some slow deep breaths and out of gratitude reflect on all the events that had to happen for your food to be enjoyed in your presence.
Chew your food as thoroughly as possible
Digestion begins in your mouth, not your stomach. Chewing not only mechanically breaks down your food, but lets the enzymes in your saliva break it down even more efficiently so that your stomach won’t have to work as hard when your meal arrives there.
Let your GI tract rest between meals
There are a few exceptions to this statement, however most people benefit from letting the whole digestive system rest after clearing out the previous meal, before it is bombarded with more food. Now this time frame can vary between individuals but try giving yourself 3-5 hours between snacks or meals. Feeling hungry so soon after eating? That is often a sign that you didn’t get enough fat, protein and fiber at your previous meal, so try planning accordingly so your hunger is satisfied for a longer period of time.
Balance out your fiber intake
Fiber is essential to keep food moving through your intestines and most of us do not get enough. That being said, too much fiber can cause painful cramping and gas. If you're trying to add more of this to your diet, start slow to minimize the stress that this can put on your body. Most importantly, drink plenty of fluids between meal times when you add in more fiber, otherwise it will have the opposite effect!
Cut back on raw foods
Raw produce is extremely healthy and requires little to no prep, but if you're having issues with bloating you might want to try lightly cooking your foods which make it easier to digest. Try steaming, roasting or sautéing your veggies to minimize nutrient loss from cooking while preserving flavor and making your food more digestible.
Try natural remedies
Fennel is a good option. It relaxes the GI tract and minimizes gas and bloating. You can chew seeds after a meal, or make a tea out of them. Cardamom seeds also help aid digestions, and teas made with peppermint, ginger or lemon are also very beneficial.
Consider cutting back on grains
This might not be realistic, sustainable, or beneficial for everyone but many people do benefit from this approach and feel better when they try it. Even though grains can be healthy in certain amounts, so many of us eat too much and not enough protein, fat and vegetables. Our insides and blood sugars often suffer for it. There are some extreme opinions right now on both sides, but my advice is to not to make grains or flours the main base of your diet and add in more nutrient dense foods such as vegetables, seeds, proteins and nourishing healthy fats.
These are very helpful guidelines to start with if you have frequent bloating. If you’re still struggling after trying all of the above, consider investigating other possible root causes such as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or food sensitivities. A low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols - types of carbohydrate that commonly cause gas) diet will also provide temporary relief while you figure out the underlying cause of your symptoms. In my practice I offer food sensitivity testing followed by LEAP therapy and can also provide guidance with elimination strategies and low FODMAP diets so you can start feeling better sooner than later.