We've all been there. One minute you're feeling fabulous. Flat, happy tummy, no gas, and then BAM! You're bloated. Someone mysteriously replaced your flat stomach with a football. Why? Because you ate food. How dare you. What makes you think you can eat? I kid, of course. Food is important. Food is life. Food tastes like heaven on a plate. Blah, blah, blah, I love food.
So why do we bloat? Well, let me put it like this, your body can't talk. It communicates it's distress through symptoms, like pain, cramping and bloating. It is the body's way of saying that something is not right. So when you bloat, and your tummy distends, your digestive system is basically saying, "What is this crap? I can't deal with this!"
Now, you may have consumed what you consider to be a perfectly healthy meal. You've eaten this plenty of times before with no issues. There should be no reason for your tummy to bloat. What you need to realise is that it is not necessarily the food that is the issue, it is your digestive system. It is upset and sensitive, and when this happens it can react to foods that never hurt you before. Foods such as onions, garlic, wheat, apples, nectarines, cabbage and beans. These foods are often much harsher on your stomach than other more alkaline foods and therefore if your stomach is in a distressed state, it cannot cope with the burden of digesting these potent foods.
But don't panic, young one. Simply observe what is happening with your body. Does it get bloated after fruit? Bread? Or can a stir fry give you an eight-month pregnancy belly straight after consumption? By observing and isolating what triggers your bloating, simply cut that food (or those foods) out of your diet completely for a four-week period and be aware of how you feel. Does the bloating reduce or disappear? If so, then great! Re-introduce that food after the four weeks and see what happens. If you are still becoming bloated after that cut that same food out for another four weeks. Do this until your body no longer reacts to the food. Don't worry, just because your body reacts to this particular food at this point in time doesn't mean it will always be like that. One day, you will be able to eat it again and be absolutely fine.
Okay, you say, this is all well and good, but how do I deal with my bloating now? Well, truth be told there is no way of completely ridding your body of bloating. There is, however a few ways that I have personally found can help reduce the discomfort of bloating and relieve some of the built up gas in your system:
- Peppermint tea: Peppermint tea is like my go-to drink to help with a bloated and sore tum. Peppermint tea is fantastic at helping calm an upset stomach and has relaxant and antispasmodic properties. It also helps stimulate proper digestion, which makes it easier for the digestive system to process food and expel waste.
- Ginger and Lemon Juice: Ginger and lemon juice are another super beneficial combo that help deal with bloating, gas and stomach cramps. Put the juice of half a lemon and around a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger in a glass with warm water and drink. This is fantastic to consume on the run as I have found it works really fast in reducing pain and bloating.
- Yoga stretches: Now I'm no Yogi. In fact, the spiritual aspect of yoga I disagree with passionately. But the stretches, oh goodness the stretches, are wonderful. Poses such as downward dog, pigeon, cobra, bridge, roller, rotation pose and, stay with me here, the wind-freeing pose, are one of the most effective ways I have found of relieving bloating and gas quickly. You also feel super limber afterwards. Bonus!
Dealing with bloating, and becoming aware of your triggers is a process. But it is a process that is worth going through. Learning to listen to your body and feed it what it wants/can handle, is a skill that will lead to many years of digestive bliss (or so I hope). As Dr Libby Weaver says, "Never waste a bloated tummy. Ask it what it wants to tell you, as silly as that may sound. Your body has a wonderful wisdom."
Want to deal with bloating before it occurs? Check out this previous article I wrote discussing the 6 Keys to Digestive Health here.