How to Never be Bloated Again

Almost everyone of us has experienced bloating at some point of our lives. Especially after wolfing down all the good stuff from birthdays, celebrations, and all sorts of special occasions! I’ve been there multiple times and I totally hate the gassy feeling after enjoying awesome food. So how do we prevent this from happening?

Let’s look at the science-y part of things:

Bloating is a common condition characterised by a feeling of fullness, tightness, or swelling in the abdominal area. It is often caused by excess gas or fluid accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to discomfort and distention. 

Distension is a common term used to describe the uncomfortable swelling or bloating of the abdomen caused by excess gas or fluid. Bloating can be triggered by various factors such as overeating, consuming gas-producing foods, swallowing air while eating or drinking, hormonal changes, and gastrointestinal disorders. It can be accompanied by other symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping, and burping. While bloating is generally harmless, it can be uncomfortable and impact one’s quality of life. 

After research, and doing trial and error on myself, here are my 11 tips to never be bloated again!

1. Chew Your Food into a Paste

Are you chewing properly? You’ll never really know until you consciously take note how you chew your food. 

Chewing your food to a paste can have several benefits in preventing that bloat. When you properly chew what you eat, it can help break it down into much smaller particles, making it easier to digest and reduce the likelihood of undigested food reaching the intestines and causing gas and bloating. 

Chewing also stimulates the production of our saliva, which contains enzymes that initiate the digestion process. Additionally, chewing slowly and thoroughly can help you eat more mindfully and be more in tune with your body’s hunger and fullness cues, which can prevent overeating and reduce the risk of bloating due to excessive food intake. Trust me on this!

Try to enjoy and savor all the flavors before you swallow. Chewing your food thoroughly can also help you enjoy the flavours and textures of your meal more fully, enhancing your overall dining experience. So, taking the time to chew your food to a paste can be a simple yet effective practice to support healthy digestion and reduce bloating.

2. Do Not Drink Liquids with Meals

Do you gulp down drinks while eating? Maybe it’s time to taper down a bit. 

A lot of people unconsciously drink while eating! Avoiding the consumption of liquids during meals can make a HUGE difference. 

When you drink liquids with meals, it can dilute the stomach acid and digestive enzymes, which are crucial for breaking down food. This can result in slower digestion and may lead to gas and bloating. 

Additionally, drinking large amounts of liquids while eating can cause the stomach to feel overly full, leading to discomfort and a sensation of bloating. By refraining from drinking liquids with meals, you allow your stomach to focus on efficiently digesting the food without the added challenge of excess liquids.

Choosing to consume your drinks after you finish your meal will promote better digestion, reduce the risk of bloating, and help you feel more comfortable after you eat. If you do need to drink liquids during meals, take small sips or choose hot drinks such as green tea to make it easier for your tummy. Please don’t chug a glass of cold water after enjoying a steak! This is a recipe for disaster!

3. Eat Fruits First

I always enjoy a couple of fruits first thing in the morning before breakfast. They give me an energy boost and I somehow feel so clean and fresh after enjoying my fruity appetizers. You can also include fruits as a starter in your meals and enjoy a whole lot of benefits.

Fruits are generally high in fibre, water, and natural sugars, which can help promote healthy digestion and regular bowel movements (I usually take a trip to the toilet after enjoying my morning fruits before breakfast!).

Eating fruits as your first course can provide a source of natural hydration, which hugely help with the breakdown of food in the stomach and facilitate smooth digestion. 

Additionally, fruits are typically lower in calories and fat compared to other foods, which can help prevent overeating and reduce the risk of bloating caused by excess food intake. The fibre in fruits usually give me this feeling of fullness, reducing the urge to consume large amounts of other food that could contribute to bloating. 

Incorporating a variety of fruits into your meals can not only add flavour and nutrition, but also potentially support digestive health and reduce the discomfort of bloating. 

Now hear me out – “An apple a day keeps the bloat away!”

4. Grain Reactions

Not all grains are made equal, and not all tummies can tolerate grains. Some of us are unlucky to be sensitive or intolerant to certain grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, as well as certain types of bread and pasta. These all contain gluten, a protein that some of us may have difficulty digesting, and are also high in fermentable carbohydrates, known as FODMAPs. 

For those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, consuming gluten-containing grains can lead to bloating, abdominal pain, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. But how can you know if gluten is the cause?

You can start by having a gluten elimination diet where you cut out these grains for a while and observe how your tummy goes. You can then reintroduce the grains to see if the bloat comes back or your tummy gets upset. You can also check with your doctor and have a blood test to  check for antibodies that react to gluten or in some cases, a doctor may recommend an endoscopy to examine the small intestine and take a biopsy to confirm gluten intolerance.

It’s super important to get checked so you can identify and avoid these trigger grains! Individuals with grain-related sensitivities can potentially alleviate bloating and other associated symptoms. 

5. Food Combining Made Easy

Have you ever heard of food combining? You can eat certain foods together to optimise digestion. It has been suggested as a way to potentially reduce bloating and improve our overall gut health. 

Some advocates suggest avoiding combining proteins and carbohydrates in the same meal, as they require different digestive enzymes and may slow down the digestion process when consumed together. Others recommend eating fruits on an empty stomach or avoiding combining acidic foods with starchy foods. 

While scientific evidence on the benefits of food combining for bloating is limited and individual reactions to food combinations can vary, some individuals may find that certain food combining practices can help them manage bloating and improve their digestive comfort. 

It’s important to note that food combining is not a one-size-fits-all approach and may not be necessary or effective for everyone. 

For me, if I have a high-carb meal, like pasta or lasagne, I like to combine it with water-rich foods such as a big salad to help my digestive system do its job easier. I also do this with a high protein meal. I like to have a big serve of steamed vegetables or a salad alongside it, instead of a massive serving of carbs. For example, if I have a steak, I’ll mix it with steamed vegetables and a garden salad, instead of mixing it with bread, mashed potatoes or hot chips (I will grab a handful of hot chips if they’re there though-yum!) It’s all about understanding what your gut needs to help it function optimally.

6. Raw Vegetable Warning

While raw vegetables are generally considered healthy and nutritious with their unadulterated vitamins and mineral content, they can sometimes contribute to bloating, especially for those with sensitive digestive systems. 

Veggies in their purest form are rich in fibre, which can be difficult to digest in their raw form, leading to gas and bloating. Some individuals may also have difficulty breaking down the complex carbohydrates found in raw vegetables, such as raffinose and stachyose, which can ferment in the gut and cause the bloat.

Additionally, raw vegetables even can be harder to chew thoroughly, which makes us swallow more air during eating, which can also contribute to (drum roll) bloating! 

If you’re feeling gassy when eating raw veggies, maybe it’s time to blanche, boil, or bake them instead, as this breaks down the fibres and complex carbohydrates, making it a whole lot easier to digest.

However, it’s important to note that individual tolerance to raw vegetables can vary, and some people may not experience bloating from consuming them.

7. Cut Out Nuts & Nut Butters

As I have mentioned previously, not all tummies are made equal. A lot of us go nuts over nuts (hehe) and nut butters! They have very high healthy fats, fibres, and proteins, and they taste good! But for some individuals, these yummy nuts and butters are the culprit to our bloat.

The high fat content and fibre in nuts can be difficult to digest and is the reason for the bloating, gas, and discomfort of some. Additionally, nut butters can be concentrated sources of fat and calories, and consuming them in excess or with other foods can also cause bloating and discomfort. 

Cutting out nuts and nut butters from the diet can be an elimination strategy to identify if they are contributing to bloating. I hope that’s not the case for you because if you’re anything like me, you love nut butters!

8. Use the 3-4 Hour Rule

The 3-4 Hour Rule is a strategy that some individuals find beneficial for managing bloating. The concept involves spacing out meals and snacks by allowing 3-4 hours of digestion time between each meal or snack. Can you do this?

This approach gives the digestive system adequate time to process and fully digest food before introducing more food, which may help prevent overloading the digestive system and potentially reduce the risk of bloating. This approach may also help regulate blood sugar levels, prevent overeating, and support a more efficient digestive process

However, it’s important to note that individual digestion times can vary, and the 3-4 Hour Rule may not be suitable for everyone. Some individuals may find that they need longer or shorter periods between meals or snacks based on their own digestive capacity and lifestyle factors. And quite simply, we don’t need to be eating all day. This healthy gap is not hard to achieve, in between meals.

9. 2 Handfuls is Enough

How much do you usually eat? Practicing portion control and mindful eating by limiting the amount of food consumed to approximately 2 handfuls per meal may have potential benefits for managing bloating. Eating large meals or consuming excessive amounts of food can put additional strain on the digestive system, leading to discomfort and bloating. Imagine filling a balloon with stuff and it just expands as much as it can, causing strain to the rubber.

By being mindful of portion sizes and eating moderate amounts of food, we can potentially reduce the risk of overeating and allow our digestive system to process the food more efficiently. Believe me, your tummy can be trained to eat small portions and you will get used to the portions. If we also pay attention to our own hunger and fullness cues and eating slowly and mindfully, we will prevent swallowing excessive air during meals, which can contribute to bloating. 

But remember, portion sizes and hunger cues will vary for individuals based on our activity levels, metabolism, and overall health goals. This has been a life-long battle for me because I was always told to finish what’s on my plate as a child. I have sort of mastered eating better portions in my late 30’s. Hallelujah!

10. Wake Up with a Flat Stomach

I’ve been waking up with an empty, flat stomach for years now and IT’S THE BEST FEELING EVER!

I stop eating anything around 2-3 hours before my bedtime so my digestive system won’t be working overtime processing my last meal when it’s time to hit the hay. 

If you eat a huge meal near your bedtime, you can experience bloating overnight, because our digestive system continues to process food from the previous day. This will surely happen if you just had a large meal, got fizzy drinks, and salty food in the evening. Being mindful of our last meal of the day will definitely help reduce the chances of waking up with a bloated stomach. 

Staying hydrated throughout the day and especially before bedtime can also promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation, which can of course contribute to bloating. I take a few sips before I go to bed.

You can also try to practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or gentle stretching before bedtime, as this may also help reduce stress and tension in the abdominal area, potentially minimizing bloating. 

11. Walking

How many steps do you make every day? Without a tracking app, it’s difficult to tell for sure. But every single step counts, even if it’s just walking around your street, or even inside your house. We’re all walking advocates here at HOL Health and we will always share the benefits of walking as much as we can! Did you know that this can also help stimulate our digestive system and promote good bowel movements?

Walking is a low-impact physical activity that all of us humans naturally do, so it would be best to find time to do it every day, even if it’s challenging when you’re working from home. Walking can also help reduce stress and tension, which can contribute to digestive discomfort and bloating. Several studies have shown that taking a light walk after meals increases the speed of gastric emptying, which means food moves from the stomach to the small intestine more quickly. Results show that taking a 15-20 minute walk after eating has significantly lowered blood sugar levels of people with type-2 diabetes, and walking for 30 minutes after dinner helped improve gastric emptying and reduced bloating and discomfort in healthy adults. Other studies also looked into how it improved insulin sensitivity and glucose levels!

But don’t overdo walking after eating okay? If you walk too soon, you can have acid reflux, since walking stimulates the acid production for digestion. Just take it easy to also avoid that post-meal stitch! Remember, excessive exercise or intense physical activity may actually exacerbate bloating for some individuals.

I’ve incorporated all of these 11 tips in my daily life and they have helped me manage my bloating for many years now! I know nowadays, that if I am bloated, it is because I have made a choice that causes bloating. When you think of it, bloating is such a very common condition, but it’s so easy to prevent it. I do hope these tips can help you and you can incorporate these in your daily routines as well. 

By starting practices such as mindful eating, portion control, and regular physical activity, it will all promote healthy digestion and minimise bloating

But if your bloat is still persistent, please consult with your doctor, naturopath, or a registered dietitian so they can provide personalised guidance on strategies to optimise your digestive health for your own unique needs and goals.