Do you ever feel so bloated after a meal that you have to undo your belt?
Or maybe you even wear stretchy or loose pants to accommodate your expanded tummy after eating?
Do you sometimes look like you’re pregnant after eating? (This was definitely me!)
Many of us have experienced these uncomfortable side effects of bloating after a meal. If you’re like me you may even think this was just ‘normal’ for you. But the truth is…bloating is NOT normal! It is a sign that something is not right with your digestion.
Here are the top 3 reasons you may be bloated and the remedies for each. Give them a try to see if you can reduce your bloat for good!
Not enough stomach acid
If you are stressed out, rushing around and not taking the time to sit down and relax while eating a few things are going to happen. First, your body will not switch into parasympathetic “rest & digest” mode which means your stomach won’t be triggered to release enough enzymes and stomach acid (HCL) to break down your foods. This can cause indigestion and bloating since your food is not being properly digested. Other symptoms of low stomach acid also include: nutrient deficiencies, heartburn, skin problems, increased numbers of bacteria, yeast and parasites growing in the intestines, and many more!
Remedy: RELAX! Slow down and take a few deep breaths before a meal. This will tell your body it’s time to eat, therefore releasing enzymes and HCL. You can also take an HCL supplement with meals or 1-2 Tbs of apple cider vinegar in water to aid digestion.
You aren’t CHEWING your food enough
Digestion starts in your mouth. If you inhale your food in 7 minutes or less, you are certainly not chewing your food enough! We have teeth for a reason; they break up and grind the food down into tiny particles for our stomach to digest. We also have specific enzymes in our saliva that start breaking down carbohydrates right in our mouth! This important step if often overlooked when we are eating mindlessly. After preparing your body for a meal (rule #1 above), chewing is the next most important stage of the digestive process. It stimulates the release of more stomach acid and the proper digestive enzymes.
Remedy: Slow down and chew each bite thoroughly. Some people start by counting 20 or more chews each biteful. Another helpful tip is to put your fork down in between each bite. This encourages you to taste your food before shoveling another forkful into your mouth!
Aspartame, Equal, Splenda, NutraSweet, Erythritol. Found in soda, chewing gum, diet foods, yogurt, and more, these sugar substitutes are supposedly healthy sugar alternatives… However they have very dangerous side effects! One of the most well known side effects is gas and bloating. Artificial sweeteners are not recognized by the body therefore are not absorbed properly and start fermenting in the lower intestines. Fermentation= Gas in your gut!
Remedy: Cut out or reduce your consumption of artificial sweeteners. Look for real natural sweetness instead. If you drink coffee, use a little bit of real sugar or honey rather than fake sugars. Check food labels for chemical additives. A good precaution is if the product claims “SUGAR FREE” or “Diet” run away!
Even though there are many possibilities for bloating, these three can be easily addressed to help you feel better immediately. If your bloating persists or worsens, check with your doctor for an evaluation. Hopefully these tips will help you beat bloat so you can finally throw away those stretchy sweatpants for good!
Laura Conley is a nutritionist at Heritage LifeFit Fitness. During her twelve years as a private fitness and wellness coach, she specialized in functional fitness, sports performance and holistic nutrition. Laura strongly believes that by incorporating the body, mind, and spirit we can all truly transform and thrive.