It’s a phrase many can relate to - but not all bloated bellies were created equal.
Bloating is a term used to describe expansion from gas or other substances. Abdominal bloating occurs when a glitch in the digestive process causes the digestive tract to fill with extra gas, water, or stool, causing distension and discomfort.
Some bloated bellies are caused by overeating, some by under-eating, and some are not related to our food at all! Some protrude higher up beneath the rib cage, while others lie low in the abdomen.
Some are related to specific foods and some are not. Even when related to specific trigger foods, there are still non-food interventions that might can be equally as effective in finding relief as cutting down on trigger foods.
Since there are so many different causes for bloatedness, what will cure one person will make a different person worse. The treatment for bloating is not “one-size-fits-all”!
So, what can you do?
The best thing you can do for yourself is to PAY ATTENTION to your body. Keep a food diary to try to learn from how your body reacts to different foods and patterns.
Sometimes a bit of attention can help things resolve on their own - or an upset stomach could be a symptom of a virus that passes eventually. But if things are not looking up, definitely consult with a gastroenterologist for a diagnosis, or to rule out a diagnosis.
Then team up with a GI dietitian to help you tweak your habits to suit your belly better.
What shouldn’t you do?
Don’t make drastic changes to your diet without the advice of a doctor or registered dietitian.
Don’t self-prescribe or overdose on laxatives or supplements.
Don’t despair! There are interventions that can help your body figure out its balance again.
Here are some steps that are often helpful for various types of bloating:
Breathing exercises (such as these)
Yoga or other physical activity
Increasing fiber (The fiber source makes a difference! This will be covered in a future blog)
Eating scheduled meals and snacks
Including a balance of nutrients at meals
Making mealtimes calmer to aid digestion
Getting enough sleep
A bloated belly makes an unhappy human… so it is gratifying for me to help people figure out how to calm their bellies, one bite at a time.
Stay positive and well-nourished!