If you've ever experienced indigestion or bloating, you know how uncomfortable — and, sometimes, painful — it can be.
It's especially difficult if you experience these symptoms earlier in the day, say, right after breakfast. You have a full day of work or activities ahead of you but you're uncomfortable, your clothes feel too tight, or worse yet, you're in pain.
This is no way to start the day. Figuring out what's causing your bloat and indigestion is a good place to start to prevent running into these symptoms again.
What Causes Indigestion and Bloat?
Indigestion is a group of symptoms that leave you feeling less than top-notch: feeling full early in a meal, uncomfortable fullness post-meal, mild to severe pain in your upper stomach area, burning in your lower stomach area and nausea.
Bloating is also a symptom of indigestion, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you're experiencing indigestion, it's possible you:
- Ate too much or ate too quickly
- Ate spicy, fatty or greasy foods
- Took in too much caffeine, alcohol, chocolate or carbonated beverages
These are common causes of indigestion along with smoking, anxiety and taking certain medications or supplements.
Bloating, on the other hand, can be caused by a number of issues like constipation, gut sensitivity or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), eating foods high in fiber and/or FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, as outlined by Johns Hopkins Medicine).
Breakfast Foods That Cause Bloating or Indigestion
You've heard it before — breakfast is the most important meal of the day. One of the reasons this is so true is because it sets you up for the day.
But, if your breakfast causes you to feel bloated or experience indigestion, you'll want to take a look at what you're eating to try and identify the root cause.
1. High-Fiber Foods
You've read up on how healthy and filling fiber can be so you try starting your morning with a breakfast bar or smoothie packed with fiber. This may seem like the right move but be beware of bloat.
Many of these products marketed as "high-fiber," can have upwards of 15 grams of fiber or more per serving. This can be too much for some to handle, while others may have an easier time tolerating.
"If you've ever decided to change up your morning bowl of cereal to one with lots of fiber, be cautious," Saucedo says.
"Eating a lot more fiber when your body isn't used to it can make for an unhappy gut. Slowly add fiber to your diet so your gut can get used to it and make sure to drink more water anytime you add more fiber."
2. Artificially Sweetened Foods
"Your gut doesn't always like artificial sweeteners and there's research linking artificial sweeteners to detrimental effects to your gut microbiome," shares Sauceda.
There's a good chance the "light" yogurt, low-sugar protein powder or breakfast bar or even the sugar-free jelly you're spreading on toast are sweetened with artificial sweetener or sugar alcohols.
Consuming high amounts of sugar alcohols (keep in mind, this amount varies for everyone) can leave you feeling bloated, and it may cause diarrhea, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Skip the artificially sweetened breakfast foods and go for options that are naturally free of added sugar and sweeteners.
Think a juice-only breakfast is a wise choice? You may want to reconsider.
"Juices — yes, even celery juice — don't always sit well with your gut and could cause bloating or indigestion," Sauceda explains. "When you juice, the fiber is taken out and you are left with simple sugars that could make your gut unhappy."
Instead of relying on just juice for breakfast, try a smoothie instead. This way you're able to keep the fiber, which can help leave your gut feeling more settled.
FYI, unlike the very-high-fiber foods we mentioned before, smoothies don't usually have as much fiber and so they likely won't upset your belly.
4. High-FODMAP Foods
"Foods high in FODMAPs can be a common trigger for bloating or indigestion," Saucedo shares. This is why following a low-FODMAP diet is sometimes recommended for people with IBS.
FODMAPs can be tricky to nail down because they're not just found in one or two specific food groups but are specific foods spread across all of the different foods groups like fruits, vegetables, cereals, grains, dairy, legumes, meats and so on.
For instance, apples are high in FODMAPs but oranges are not. Yogurt is typically a high-FODMAP food while hard cheese is typically not.
5. The No-Breakfast Breakfast
While this isn't a specific breakfast food, having a no-breakfast breakfast may do more harm than good when it comes to your gut.
"Skipping breakfast can also cause bloating and indigestion," adds Sauceda. "If you are a chronic breakfast skipper and find yourself with some bloating midmorning, you might want to try having a small breakfast."
The Good News: You May Not Have to Give Up Your Favorite Breakfasts
Is your favorite Greek yogurt the origin of your stomach woes? All hope is not lost.
"You don't always have to give up your favorite breakfast food if you find it causes you bloating or indigestion," explains Sauceda.
If you find your favorite food is causing you problems, then take a look at how often you're eating it and your portion size. Usually, adjusting the portion and the number of times you eat the food can help.
"I would start off by decreasing the portion and then try not to eat it every day. Aim for maybe every other day or no more than three days in a row."
How to Prevent Bloating and Indigestion
If you can't pinpoint the food source, what are some other things you can do to prevent feeling bloated or experiencing indigestion early in the morning? Amanda shares a few tips:
- Try to chill. If you're stressed about getting to work on time, the amount of emails you need to respond to or just work in general, try to reduce your stress. Feeling anxious and stressed can lead to indigestion because of the mind-gut connection.
- Slow down. Don't rush your breakfast — eating slowly can help you avoid the uncomfortable symptoms.
- Skip the straw. If you enjoy smoothies, iced coffees and other drinks in the morning, try sipping from the cup itself versus using a straw. Drinking from a straw can draw air into your belly, causing bloating.
- Chew your food. We tend to wolf down our food when we're in a hurry. Chewing is the first step to good digestion.