Chances are you’ve probably experienced it. That feeling like your stomach is like a balloon full of air. Sometimes you can even see it straining against your clothes. You are not alone feeling this. Bloating is one of the most common gastrointestinal symptoms, with 10 to 30 per cent of people experiencing it. Often bloating is felt straight after eating, so people think that something they have just eaten has caused it, leading to people cutting out foods they think are the culprits. They may feel better for a while, but then it happens again, so they cut out more foods.
The same thing happens again, and suddenly they are restricting lots of foods, but it still happens. What’s going on?
Often it’s not what you just ate, but possibly something you ate earlier. Food can take a few hours, up to a day or so, to leave the stomach and reach the lower intestine. Once foods high in fibre reaches the lower intestine, bloating can begin for two reasons. 1. The fibre draws water into the lower into the lower intestine. 2. Your gut bacteria starts fermenting the fibre and forming gas.
If you experience some gas-related symptoms that are tolerable, this could be a good sign that you are providing fuel that encourages good bacteria in your gut. Everyone experiences some bloating and flatulence, and it is important not to immediately consider these as symptoms of a problem. If you do experience symptoms, it is important that you tune into the severity, because pain and significant discomfort are not okay. You should have a chat with your doctor first, and then with a registered nutritionist to make any dietary adjustments to manage severe symptoms.
There might be some foods that need to be removed from your diet, or they may just need to be reduced in quantity or frequency. On the other hand, it may not be what you are eating that is causing the bloating, but how you are eating.
Things to think about include …
• How quickly are you eating?
• How distracted are you while you are eating?
• How stressed are you?
• How big are your meals?
• How often are you eating?
Also, it may not have anything at all to do with food and eating. Ladies, you will likely have experienced bloating thanks to your hormones. At different times during the menstrual cycle, hormones can cause water retention and make you feel bloaty.
As you can see, there are lots of different reasons as to what might be causing bloating. The initial thought is that there has been a reaction and food should be removed from the diet, but maybe there is something else going on.
Before you go cutting out foods, some things that may help relieve symptoms include:
• Gentle exercise
• A cup of peppermint or ginger tea
• A heat pack on your belly
• An abdominal massage
• Better out than in – if you do have gas, then it is okay to let it out!