Most everyone experiences bloating, or a feeling of uncomfortable fullness in the abdomen, on occasion. Common causes include overeating, swallowing air, premenstrual syndrome and constipation. More serious causes include celiac disease and ovarian cancer. If your symptoms are severe or long-lasting, seek guidance from your doctor. Otherwise, simple lifestyle shifts such as avoiding certain foods can help minimize your symptoms.
Eating large amounts of fatty food can make your stomach empty slower, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, causing bloating and discomfort. To avoid these effects, cut back on particularly high-fat items, such as fried foods and fatty meats, replacing them with lower-fat alternatives. Instead of potato chips, for example, have air-popped popcorn, dusted with natural herbs. Instead of a bacon-topped cheeseburger, have a grilled chicken breast on a whole-grain bun.
While foods affect people differently, dairy products are a common gas culprit, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. That means they often cause bloating. Gas and bloating can also derive from lactose intolerance, or the inability to digest the natural milk sugar known as lactose. If dairy products seem to worsen your symptoms, avoid cow's milk and other dairy products, such as cheese, creamy sauces and ice cream. Have lactose-free or almond milk with your cereal and coffee, and opt for marinara sauce instead of Alfredo on pastas.
Salt is rich in sodium, a mineral your body needs but that most Americans overconsume, says the American Heart Association. Sodium holds excess fluid in your body, causing bloating and potentially raising your risk for heart disease if you consume too much. About 75 percent of the sodium Americans eat comes in processed and restaurant foods, according to the association. It's mainly used as a flavor enhancer and preservative in these foods. To prevent or reduce bloating, avoid particularly sodium-rich foods, such as canned soups and vegetables, roasted ham and frozen foods. Rather than season dishes with table salt, use natural herbs, spices and fruit juice.
Certain Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables and fruits are vital parts of most any healthy diet. Eating enough of these valuable fiber sources can help prevent bloating caused by constipation. For some people, however, certain varieties cause gas and bloating, says the clearinghouse. Vegetables that may cause gas and bloating include cruciferous vegetables, such as brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms and onions. Pears, peaches and apples may have similar effects. Eat a variety of less gaseous fruits and vegetables, such as berries, cantaloupe, tomatoes and lettuce, instead.
- University of Michigan Health System: Gas, Bloating, and Burping
- National Library of Medicine: Abdominal Bloating
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gas in the Digestive Tract
- Cleveland Clinic: Reducing Fat Intake
- American Heart Association: About Sodium (Salt)
- Cleveland Clinic: Low-Sodium Diet Guidelines
- University of Michigan Health System: Helpful Hints for Controlling Gas (Flatus)