I used to constantly struggle with a bloated belly, where I often felt like I was 3 months pregnant. It was terrible, but nothing I did seemed to make it go away, so it became normal for me. I tried many diets, and maybe a 2 or 3 day juice cleanse would help temporarily, but of course, a few days back to my normal eating and the bloating would come back.
It took me a long time - essentially one year of nutrition courses and lots of additional personal research and experimentation - to finally realize that the bloating was not normal, and was totally curable.
So if you’re in the same camp as I was, struggling with constant bloating and maybe occasional gasiness, it’s important for you to know that there is a cure to get rid of this for good. Like most things, it all starts with identifying the root cause behind your bloating. So let’s take a look at what I have found to be the key triggers of bloating, gas and constipation:
Imbalance in your gut bacteria
Gut infections and/or Food sensitivities
Lack of digestive enzymes / low stomach acid
Not chewing your food properly and/or not cooking your foods properly
Improper food combinations
So now that you know the reasons for your bloating, it’s much easier to address.
STEP ONE is fixing your gut microflora, as this is usually linked to all digestive issues, as well as other health issues, and is VITAL to correct. The sooner you begin to address this, the better, in order to avoid other health complications down the road. Start by taking a good probiotic supplement every morning, as well as adding probiotic-rich foods into our diet, such as raw fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi (just make sure they are raw, they must be in refrigerated section and not made with vinegar) or if you can tolerate dairy, add in cultured milk products, such as kefir or greek yogurt (but go for plain flavor to avoid unnecessary added sugars, and you can always add some raw honey & cinnamon for sweetness). For non-dairy options, look for coconut-milk yogurt/kefir - also great options.
STEP TWO is determining what might be the cause of your imbalanced microflora, and making sure you address this. I recommend doing a stool test, to see if you have any infection or parasites, as getting rid of these is necessary to re-establish a healthy gut flora, together with the probiotics. Another source can be unknown food sensitivities, which you can determine by both a food sensitivity test, and an elimination diet. (For the stool test and food sensitivity test, I recommend working with a functional medicine practitioner, and for more on the elimination diet, contact me!)
STEP THREE is testing to see if adding a digestive enzyme, or Betaine HCL with pepsin,help solve your problems. Our body’s digestive enzymes can be lowered by environmental factors, mostly stress. So the key is to work on lowering the stress in your life, and optimizing your adrenal health. But in the meantime, taking a digestive enzyme with your food (and supplementing with Betaine HCL if you have low stomach acid) can help you to properly break down the proteins, fats and carbohydrates to reduce any bloating, and will also aid in nutrient absorption.
But ok, maybe you’re thinking this all sounds too complicated for you. So if you’re not ready to go down that route of testing/supplementing, then start by applying some easy “anti-bloating” solutions. That takes me to steps 4 and 5.
STEP FOUR: CHEW, CHEW,AND CHEW some more! Digestions begins in the mouth with your saliva, and for optimal digestion (and no bloating!), you want to be chewing your food at least 20-30 times before swallowing. Ideally you want your food to be almost liquid before you swallow. So start paying closer attention to this, and start eating slower. One tip is to try taking a deep breath before each meal, and appreciating the meal. (Maybe even instagram your beautiful plate!) Then focus on savoring each bite and putting your fork down in between bites. I PROMISE you that this can be game changing for your digestion, your bloating, and your overall health. It also leads to WEIGHT LOSS because as you’re chewing and eating slower, you’re allowing the time for your body to give you the signal that it's full, which keeps you from overeating.
Also, be mindful about how you cook your cruciferous vegetables, your grains and mostly your beans. Beans are a huge cause of gas and bloating for most people, but this can be fixed by cooking them properly. One easy tip is to pre-soak your grains and beans overnight with a piece of seaweed.
Step FIVE: Introduce basic Food Combining principles. To sum it up briefly, you want to avoid: a) combining more than one protein per meal, b) combining carbs and protein in one meal, and c) eating fruits with your meals. Eat fruit alone and in between meals - the small exceptions being fruit blended with greens in a smoothie, or cooking small amounts of pre-soaked fruit with your oatmeal. Start by giving these basic rules a shot - I promise it’s easier than it seems. Have your meat/fish/eggs with veggies, or if you’re having rice/pasta/quinoa etc, have it with veggies. But avoid having pasta or rice with meat/fish, and avoid combining proteins (such as surf & turf) in one sitting. The good news is, everything goes with low-carb veggies, and the more veggies you eat, the better!
Lastly, make sure to drink lots of water, herbal teas (especially peppermint, ginger and fennel teas!) and eat foods with a high water content, such as celery, cucumber and watermelon. On the same note, you want to avoid foods that cause water retention, namely foods high in sodium (almost all processed foods like chips, deli meats, as well as soy sauce). And sorry to say this, but limiting your caffeine and booze tends to help as well!
If you suffer from a bloated belly after meals, start looking into this - don’t get complacent with your constant bloating because it can lead to bigger issues down the road! Start paying closer attention to the foods you eat, chew them properly, cook them properly, and see which ones are causing the most issues for you. Try doing an elimination diet to see if you have food sensitivities, and start investigating whether you might have lower levels of enzymes due to stress and/or low levels of stomach acid. These questions are worth asking. And if you’d like my support, you know where to reach me!
Note: I will be doing another 10 day detox in September where we'll be implementing an elimination diet, so if you think you may have some sensitivities (particularly to dairy which often causes bloating) join me this fall!
Love and flat bellies,