By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
When you’re really bloated, it can be hard to go about your regular activities. It’s uncomfortable and can make you self-conscious. Sometimes we prepare ourselves for the bloat we know we will have after a big meal, but other times we won’t know what hit us! You should always consult with a medical professional if you find yourself bloating regularly without explanation, since you could have some type of unidentified food allergy. If you don’t have any serious reasons for your stomach discomfort, though, here are some great tips to beat the bloat!
Cramming too many calories into one meal will leave you with digestive disruption. It’s far better to eat 5-6 smaller meals/snacks throughout the day that don’t overload your stomach.
Replacing carbonated drinks with water is a great way to reduce the bloat. When you swallow fizzy drinks, you’re also swallowing air—hence all the excess gas you get! Add some fruit slices to your water if you tend to find water as unexciting to drink as I do. Speaking of drinking water, this leads me to my next point:
But it’s a big no-no to do it when you’re eating! This is one of those easy bad habits to do on accident, since so many of us quickly gobble down our food with fluids. if you’re doing both activities simultaneously, though, you will swallow air, which may cause gas.
Incorporating digestive enzymes into your diet can help you break down food better and reduce bloating during digestion. My favorite digestive enzyme is MRM-Digest-All. It uses plant-based enzymes to enhance protein and fat digestion, including lactose. I take these before every meal to ensure I never feel stomach discomfort, but they’re also especially helpful if you eat something that you know may upset your stomach (if you have a sensitivity to milk, for example) or an overly large meal.
I only take these if I’m in a real bind, since the long-term effects are unclear. Charcoal is used in emergency rooms to treat overdoses or poisonings, so you shouldn’t take this if you’re on any type of medication, as it may decrease their efficacy. Charcoal is awesome, though, because it will also absorb excess gas and water in your intestines. You will wake up with the flattest stomach you’ve ever had! Just be sure to drink lots of water with it, as it’s can be extremely dehydrating. Find my favorite brand of charcoal here.
Probiotics are very powerful in reducing gastro problems as they restore the balance of bacteria within your intestines. It’s perfectly normal to experience some discomfort when you first start taking a probiotic supplement. This just means that the probiotics are increasing your bacteria. If the symptoms start getting worse and worse over time, though, it may mean that a particular probiotic isn’t good for you. Switch it up and try another! Out of all of the brands I have tried, this is one of my favorites and also one of the highest rated—Nutrition Essentials.
Exercise and staying active can prevent constipation and relieve bloating. If you’re feeling discomfort, often the best thing you can do is to get moving! Whether you choose to do some squats in the gym or to go on a brisk walk, movement is key to alleviating pressure and improving digestion.
Salt makes the body retain water, which leads to bloating. The best way to minimize this is to avoid restaurant meals and canned foods, as they are the main source of sodium in your diet.