It is not unusual to feel bloated when you eat fiber, especially as part of your first meal of the day. You might be tempted to remove fiber-rich foods from your breakfast options to avoid the bloating and discomfort. Before you go that route, you should understand what fiber is, and how it benefits your body. Additionally, fiber might not be the culprit at all. An allergy to wheat and other grain products might be the cause of your post-breakfast bloat.
Fiber and Bloating
Fiber is the indigestible part of many fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It adds bulk to your feces and keeps it moist so that it passes easily through your body. It also helps flush excess fats and cholesterol out of your body through the feces. Although it is indigestible, the bacteria that live in your intestines feed on the fiber. As they feed, the bacteria release methane gas as a waste product. If you don’t consume fiber on a regular basis, those bacteria don’t get a lot to eat, and don’t produce much gas. If you increase your fiber intake, the bacteria produce more gas. At first, this creates discomfort because your body is not used to the increased gas output. Your bowels become bloated because they are not as efficient at eliminating the excess gas. If you continue consuming fiber over time, your body will become accustomed to the increased bacterial activity, become more efficient at eliminating the excess gas and you will no longer experience uncomfortable bloating.
Wheat, Gluten and Bloating
Traditional breakfast foods, such as pancakes, waffles and cereals, are made from refined flour and generally have less than 1 gram of fiber per serving. The same goes for white toast, muffins and doughnuts. The only exceptions are foods that are specifically made to be fiber-rich, such as bran muffins or whole-wheat baked goods. If you experience intestinal discomfort after eating wheat-based products, it might not be the fiber causing your problem. Some individuals have a condition called celiac disease and are sensitive to a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat and other grains. These individuals experience bloating, and other intestinal discomfort, when they eat products that contain this protein.
Finding the Cause
Consult your doctor if you experience bloating after eating grain-based foods. You might find that fiber is not the culprit after all. Your body needs fiber to function properly and the Mayo Clinic recommends at least 21 g of fiber per day for adults. Most Americans only get 15 g daily, according to the Harvard School of public Health. If fiber truly is the culprit, you can reduce your intake, then gradually reintroduce fiber into your diet until you reach the recommended levels. By adding fiber gradually, you allow your body to adjust and prevent bloating. If celiac disease is the culprit, you can still consume fiber from nongrain sources, such as fruits and vegetables. Your doctor will also help you determine which foods you should avoid, such as products made from wheat, barley and rye.
Low-Fiber Breakfast Foods
If you still want to remove fiber from your breakfast options, eat animal-based foods such as eggs, dairy and meats -- these foods have zero fiber. You can also eat most of the traditional breakfast foods mentioned previously as long as you stick to “white” foods made from refined grains. If you have fried potatoes, make sure they are white potatoes without the skin, with no added vegetables, such as onion or green pepper. Avoid oatmeal and products with “bran," “whole wheat” or “whole grain” in the name or ingredient list. Avoid all fruits and vegetables, including smoothies and raisins in baked goods. Drink juices, which have the nutrients of the fruits and vegetables without the fiber. You can also drink coffee, tea, milk, water and hot chocolate.