It’s time to stop bloating in its tracks!
“Do you think anyone will notice how disgustingly bloated I am right now?”
This was a worrisome thought that played on repeat in my mind for close to two years. That was before I realized that I don’t have to feel this way anymore (Let’s become a nutritionist light-bulb moment).
I truly believe that we all have access to this hidden power to overcome almost anything that life throws at us. More of us just need to tune-in to the language that our body speaks.
How is this all relating back to bloating?
When you experience anything ‘negative’ − whether that is a thought, feeling, emotion, symptom or whatever − I tend to take this as a clear sign that something in your life has to change.
If you find that you struggle with bloating on the regular, yet you continue in the same routine (maybe with a few slight modifications), I have a classic comeback that nobody likes to hear: You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.
That saying goes for many things in life; however let’s focus on digestion right now – and BLOATING, specifically.
9 Simple Tips to Stop Bloating
Rule Out Sensitivities
Let’s start a simple food journal to track your meal intake. I want you to keep an eye out for foods that contain wheat/gluten, dairy, eggs, refined sugar, nuts, soy, corn or artificial/processed ingredients that may be contributing to your discomfort. It’s always best to focus on getting in whole-foods that don’t require an ‘ingredient list’, opposed to pre-made and pre-packaged foods which have many processed ingredients, additives and preservatives. It can be hard to put your finger on a specific sensitivity if you rely on foods that you aren’t making from scratch (which 1-of-20 ingredients in your protein bar might be causing bloating?).
A proper food sensitivity test may be helpful. If your food journal does not provide the answers: you can work with a Naturopathic Doctor to get tested for these results. Other foods to be mindful of that are well-known for creating that bloat are sulfur rich vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussles sprouts and cabbage and indigestible carbohydrates known as the ‘FODMAPs’.
Space Out Your Coffees
Hey now, not telling you that you’ve got to give up the coffee. But you do need to be mindful of when you’re enjoying it, and how often you reach for it. You should never drink coffee with your meal, and one cup a day should be your maximum. Coffee overexcites your digestive tract and may stimulate bloating. Not to mention, if you’re constantly speeding up your digestion with caffeine, you may be missing out on nutrient absorption and the proper breakdown of foods. Create a healthy relationship with coffee, not a dependency. Remember quality also counts, and what you use to ‘jazz it up.’ Choose certified organic and fair-trade beans, try some non-dairy milks, natural sweeteners like maple syrup, add collagen powder or try out the Bulletproof Coffee trend. Herbal teas like fennel, peppermint, dandelion, ginger and chamomile make for a smart choice for Better Digestion.
Slow Down Baby
Many of us are accustomed to the classic case of ‘disappearing snacks.’ You know, suddenly your bowl is empty, you didn’t really enjoy it or pay attention to it, and now you’re likely wanting seconds. Make a new habit of setting the mood at meal time. Whenever you take a bite of food you are literally giving your body fuel and hopefully some quality nutrition (depending on your food choices). If we’re multitasking while eating, choose to ‘fuel up’ on-the-go,’ while we’re stressed out or rushed – we end up munching way too fast. If we’re swallowing quicker than you can chew: hello gas build-up (your stomach doesn’t have teeth!). Practice mindful eating to reduce stress and digestive inflammation. Your gut is known as your second brain. What soothes your mind (calm thoughts and less rush), can also help to soothe your gut.
Raw Might Not be Worth it
I realize that the maximum amount of nutrients and enzymes will be found in your raw veggies, but raw food is not raw-some for all. When you lightly steam or sauté your vegetables in coconut oil, grass-fed butter or ghee (especially cruciferous vegetables), you will begin to break down the fiber and plant cell walls. This makes it easier for your body to digest and absorb the nutrition within. The digestibility of a food is important because your body can only receive a food’s health benefits if it’s able to breakdown and absorb the nutrients. Skip the huge raw salads. Change it up and decrease the portion size of raw greens, add some lightly steamed or sautéed vegetables, and include clean proteins, and maybe some microgreens and fermented foods for added benefits.
Manage Your Stress Levels
It can be good stress or bad stress, but if we are anxious about anything, or are simply overwhelmed with a busy-bee schedule, many of us immediately feel it in our gut. When your body enters the ‘flight-or-fight mode,’ which some of us live in day-in and day-out, your body is actually working to conserve your energy for vital organs that are needed to either fight or flight. Unfortunately your digestive system is not a high priority function during this time. You can be eating the healthiest meal ever, but if you’re stressed out your body may be working against you, and that meal is likely going to make you bloated. Mindful eating in addition to stress management is an undeniably powerful combo for better digestion.
Drink Enough Water
Skip the fizzy drinks and the one’s that make you feel silly (you know which ones I’m talking about). Keeping hydrated with plain old water actually helps to discourage water retention. When you’re well hydrated your body isn’t in this constant struggle of trying to hold on to the water it has. Your body is always in a state of detoxing and water keeps things moving: from carrying nutrients to our cells, aiding digestion by forming stomach secretions, flushing out wastes, and keeping our kidneys healthy – make proper hydration a priority.
Up Your Mineral Intake
Even in organic farming, mineral-rich soil is hard to come by these days. Minerals are essential for more than building strong bones and teeth. We need minerals for nerve function and for metabolic processes such as creating energy from the foods you eat (hola, Krebs cycle). Your mineral intake may help in combating inflammation; maintaining fluid balance, blood pressure and pH levels; supporting your adrenals and thyroid; keeping your energy levels up, brain sharp and immune system strong. All of which also benefits your gut. Switching to a himalayan salt is an option for getting in a balance of trace minerals. You can also use a trace mineral supplement such as Concentrace, which you can add to your water.
Take Bitter Greens & Herbs
It’s time to fall in love with bitterness. Not a bitter attitude – I’m talking bitter herbs and greens. This class of plants activates the taste buds that simultaneously stimulate your enzyme production and bile flow. Better than digestive enzymes capsules (for most), bitters actually stimulate your body to naturally produce digestive secretions (instead of replacing them).
Bitter greens and herbs enhance the natural detoxification of the liver, which regulates cholesterol, balances hormones, detoxifies the blood, and metabolizes fats. It’s important that we include all the ‘tastes’ for better health: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Unfortunately we are more accustomed to sweet and salty, and we lack taste balance. Use dandelion greens, arugula, kale, rapini and mustard greens in your meal creation, and try out the St. Francis Canadian Bitters Tincture which contains bitters such as globe artichoke, dandelion, burdock, ginger, black walnut and more. Another benefit to bitters is that they may reduce food cravings and aid in healthy weight loss!
Optimize Your Gut Flora
So many of us do not have a magical and lush microbiome, with the ideal ratio of healthy microbes (I’m talking probiotics for gut health). We are actually more bacteria than human, but don’t get the heebie-jeebies – good bacteria is your friend. It should be known that your gut flora is extremely delicate and is very easily disrupted by our environment. Food choices, sugar, alcohol, medications (notably antibiotics and birth control pills), and stress all play a part. It’s important for us to include foods that are naturally rich in probiotics. These include cultured or fermented foods with “live” or “active” bacteria, such as organic kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, water kefir and kimchi.
A healthy gut flora enables proper digestion and the absorption of the nutrients from your foods. A healthy gut also facilitates noticeable improvements on your mood – decreasing feelings of anxiety and depression. It supports a strong immunity and decreases gut inflammation. For more therapeutic amount of probiotics, a good quality supplement is important. Probiotics are important particularly if you’ve been ill, are not down with fermented foods, have been struggling long-term with digestive issues, or have been on antibiotics recently.
About the Author
Nicole Eckert is a Holistic Nutritionist and the founder + owner of Holisticole. Powered by her passion, it’s Nicole’s intention to share her abundance of holistic knowledge & inspire YOU to become the best version of yourself. On her healthy living blog, you can find informative blog posts, online programs and whole-food recipes. CommentsRead Bio Read Posts