Feeling bloated is not fun. It’s uncomfortable, and at times it can even cause pain in the abdomen. What you may not know is what you’re eating may be the culprit. Here’s how to keep bloating at bay—for good!

loat is an ongoing battle, a seemingly impossible foe to defeat. We’ve all been there—one minute your stomach is normal and you’re feeling like a fine wine, and then the next you’re resembling just how you would feel
if you drank an entire beer keg. The feeling is uncomfortable, sometimes smelly, and overall disheartening. Especially when you don’t know where you went wrong.

Bloating can be caused for many reasons, such as eating too quickly, introducing new foods (the body is adjusting to producing certain digestive enzymes), consuming too much fibre (yes that’s a thing), or constipation. But before you wave a white flag, completely giving up on your New Year’s goals, and resorting to believing your body is broken, let’s explore the possibility that this issue is most likely not your fault. It’s the foods you are eating.

LOW-FODMAP FOODS, AKA THE “ANTI-BLOAT DIET” 
When we eat, we don’t really think about the internal work our digestive system is actually doing. We expect to simply consume what our heart desires and rest assured our bodies will know what to do to absorb the nutrients and expel the waste without argument or complaint.

However, as we all know, this isn’t always the case.

Although certain foods are easy to digest, there are many others that place our gastrointestinal system in distress. From person to person, degrees of digestion ease will vary, especially if one suffers with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or food allergies. It’s important to note you don’t have to be diagnosed with either to suffer with symptoms of a constant distended stomach.

It’s the foods you are eating.

Everyone has their own food sensitivities, but there has been a long list of carbohydrate sources compiled that have been shown to potentially create chaos within anyone’s system. More specifically, these foods are categorized as short-chain carbohydrates that the body absorbs inefficiently. These ferment in the gut, drawing in water and creating uncomfortable gas—resulting in a swollen mid-section.

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Hold up—before you start stressing about the science-y terms, this basically means that the chemical make-up of certain carbohydrate sources gives our stomach a rough time. The degree of tolerance for these foods will vary from person to person, but the mystery of your bloat may be due to the fact you’re incorporating too many high-FODMAP foods without even realizing it.

They say everything in moderation, but if you are noticing a pattern of constant bloat after certain meals, it may be time to consider eliminating certain items altogether.

Before we dive into this list of foods, grab your current meal plan or food log, and let’s do some investigative work (if you don’t log your foods, now would be a great time to start!).

Look at different days and think about when you felt great and the other days where you felt more roly-poly. Now do a comparison, what foods were different on those days?

Now that you have your list, let’s look and see if the days you weren’t feeling yourself, are in fact the days you had higher FODMAP foods.

CARBS TO AVOID/REDUCE

This is a quick list of popular foods that are most likely on your meal plan that could be causing your new five month old baby look:

HIGH-FODMAP FOODS:

Asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic, onions, avocado, sugar snap peas, apples, peaches, pears, honey, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, rye bread, whole wheat items (bread, crackers, pasta), beans, whey protein powder, and excess of artificial sweeteners ending in “ol” example: xylitol.

Does this list basically resemble your current meal plan? If yes, don’t completely panic and toss it out the window. It’s important to note that typically, bloating occurs when a food item is eaten in excess. Are you consuming high fibrous greens with each meal? Cut back to one-two servings or cook your veggies so they are softer and easier to digest.

If there is only one item on this list you’re currently incorporating into your diet, cut it out and see if the bloating disappears within 24-48 hours. If it does, mystery solved!

If the food is the issue, you should feel your symptoms subside in a couple of days. Once you’ve cleared your system after a week or so, you can try a process of food elimination to determine what it is exactly causing the painful swelling. Add a food item back from your meal plan that was listed as a high-FODMAP one at a time to determine which one has actually been affecting your stomach distress.

If the above doesn’t help eliminate the pesky bloat, you may need to consider switching out the majority of the foods you’ve been eating. But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean never eat again, it just means to switch high-FODMAP foods for low or FODMAP-free foods.

CARBS TO CONSUME for FODMAP DIET

Here is a short compilation of anti-bloating foods:

LOW FODMAP FOODS:

Broccolini, green beans, eggplant, celery, zucchini, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, almond/rice milk, lactose- free yogurt, maple syrup, gluten-free bread/pasta/tortillas, oatmeal, and stevia.

FODMAP-FREE FOODS:

Alfalfa, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, ginger, potato, brown rice, red peppers, pumpkin, lettuce, grapes, oranges, strawberries.

Before you think all is hopeless for your diet, just remember everything in moderation. Here is a meal plan example that incorporates both low and FODMAP-free foods:

FODMAP MEAL PLAN EXAMPLE: 

MEAL 1:

1/31⁄3 cup of oatmeal
1⁄4 cup of blueberries
1 whole egg + 2 egg whites

MEAL 2:

2 celery stalks

2 Tbsp of almond butter or (28g of whole almonds)

MEAL 3:

1 cup Romaine Lettuce 1⁄4 cucumber
1⁄4 cup cherry tomatoes 3oz of cooked chicken 2 Tbsp of oil and vinegar

MEAL 4:

2 plain rice cakes
1⁄2 cup of strawberries

MEAL 5:

4oz of cooked salmon Steamed green beans 3oz of sweet potato

If eliminating some of the high-FODMAPS foods solves your mystery bloat, hoorah! If you are still suffering with unexplained swelling and discomfort, consider setting up an appointment with a GI specialist.

More Knowledge: Check out this great article on mushrooms, the super veg for women.

Author: Kristie Higgs is known for being the creator and face of GirlHustle, an online fitness app designed to educate women in macros, working out,
and how to get long lasting results. She has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and holds master level credits in sports nutrition along with many personal training certificate titles.

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