It’s that time of the week again! Have you been wondering why your stomach may have grown 2 inches overnight or why certain foods leave you feeling so gassy? In this week’s Wellness Wednesday we will be unpacking the most common causes of bloating, tips to avoid it, and things you can do to help the process along.
If you have a topic you would like to learn more about please send me an email at email@example.com.
– Shannon Moens, Health and Wellness Coordinator, T-Lane Nation
Bloating is an abnormal buildup of gas, swelling or an increase in diameter of the abdominal area. You may notice a feeling of tightness or fullness around the stomach. In some cases you may also notice abdominal pressure, a mild pain, or a gurgling sound.
Temporary bloating (2-36 hours) is natural and nothing to worry about. Everyone has experienced it in some capacity and might have thought the 2 inches they gained overnight was. If you do experience this digestive issue, use rational thought. An overnight or sudden onset of a distended, full stomach cannot, logically or rationally, be fat. No one gains that much fat overnight or even during the course of one day.
If there is a spike in the scale or your clothing suddenly fits tighter, you are likely bloated. Give it a day or two, use these tips, and things will get back to normal.
7 COMMON CAUSES OF BLOATING:
1. Eating too much, too fast
If you’re usually the first person done the meal or you try to get eating over with as fast as possible, then you are experiencing volume bloating. In this case your stomach has grown rapidly in size due to the volume of and speed at which you consumed your food. If your stomach is feeling distended, don’t worry. This bloating will disappear over the next 1 – 4 hours as the food digests and exits your stomach.
Try: Eat slowly and mindfully. Slow your eating by pacing yourself with the slowest eater at the table. Remember to turn off the TV and avoid distractions while eating.
2. Slow Digesting Foods
Foods such as bacon, fast-food, cheese, nuts, fatty fish, and beans (to name a few) take a longer time to digest than others. They make their way through your digestive tract at a much slower rate, which could explain why you’re feeling heavier or bloated 1 – 24 hours after eating them. Give your body time to digest and stay on tract with your nutrition plan.
Try: If you think you’re having a few too many slow-digesting foods, reduce your intake. Have them only once per day or once every 2 days. If you always bloat in response to highly processed foods (ie. fast-food), this may be your body’s way of telling you it can’t digest it and the food be removed from your diet.
3. Gas Inducing Foods
The natural digestive process produces gas. This can become an issue, however, if it doesn’t move through the digestive tract or if excess gas is produced. Foods commonly associated with bloating are: beans and lentils, sweeteners (ie. stevia and sorbitol – commonly found in “diet” products), some dairy products, carbonated drinks, wheat, and raw cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.).
Try: Every person is unique. Foods that make you bloat, might not have the same effects on your neighbour. Track what foods you’re eating to discover which ones trigger your bloating. Once you’ve discovered the culprit, you can either anticipate future bloating or avoid the food. Cook or steam your cruciferous vegetables to ease digestion and still receive the essential vitamins and nutrients.
NOTE: If you experience nausea, diarrhea, itching, swelling of any kind, dizziness, or trouble breathing after eating, contact your doctor and take note of your symptoms.
4. Sodium (Salt)
Highly processed foods, sucks as chips or fast food, are packed full of salt. While we already know that salt/sodium isn’t great for our heart health, it also causes us to hold onto more water than normal, which results in water-retention bloating or “feeling fluffy”.
Try: Eat less processed and salty foods.
Your fix: Drink more water. I know drinking more seems counter-intuitive, but the better hydrated you are the sooner you can get back to normal.
5. Late Dinner
Waking up in the morning with a full belly is not great for the ego. You may start to think you’ve gained an inch on your midsection over night, but remember to think logically! It’s humanly impossible for someone to put on fat, that fast. If you are a late-night eater, it is likely that some of the food from dinner is still being digested and making its way through your body. To avoid this type of bloating, eat earlier in the night.
Your fix: Digestion takes time so the only thing to do is have patience. Remind yourself that it is not fat, you simply have food in your system. Give yourself grace and don’t let this pull you off-course from your goals.
Your chances for bloating are doubled if you drink alcohol, as it 1) dehydrates you, and 2) is typically carbonated, which both produce bloating symptoms. As previously mentioned, water-retention bloating happens if the body is restricted of water. It will go into “survival mode” and store as much water as possible. Since alcohol is a diuretic, most of your water will be eliminated through pee, leaving you in a dehydrated state.
Try: Have 1 glass of water for every glass of alcohol, and avoid carbonated beverages. In the hours/days following, keep drinking water to help cure any water-retention bloating.
7. Hormone Changes in Women
Many women will experience intense bloating right before or in the first few days of their period. This is due to a rise in estrogen levels. The naturally high levels of this hormone can cause constipation and fluid retention, leaving you with a distended stomach and a feeling of heaviness.
Try: This is typically an emotionally driven time, so remind yourself that your are experiencing bloating and NOT rapidly gaining fat. The best things you can do is to keep drinking water, to prevent dehydration after hormone levels have been stabilized, and keep on track with your nutrition plan.
Manage and Prevent Bloating
The most important thing to remember is that bloating does not equal fat. Give yourself grace, stay on track with your nutrition plan, and be rational. Remind yourself it is humanly impossible to gain 2 inches in your midsection in less than 24 hours.