March 4, 2021

Why do I always feel bloated? We get this question asked all the time. 

Bloating and fluid retention can often cause pain and make you feel overly full or in discomfort after eating. It can also make your stomach look and feel bigger.

Here are some things that may cause bloating and fluid retention.

  • Fluid retention can be caused by a variety of things. Fluid is often retained when your diet contains a lot of carbohydrates. Carbs are broken down in the body to sugars, and each gram of sugar is stored in the cells with three grams of water. Reducing the amount of carbs you eat can therefore reduce the amount of water your body stores.
  • Excess sodium in your diet may be to blame. Your body will tolerate sodium only in certain concentrations, so if your diet is high in processed foods which have high levels of sodium this could contribute to bloating. However, electrolyte balance is important. If your eating plan is free of processed foods, adding a small amount of salt can help you feel better.
  • Hormones, especially menstrual hormones, can increase bloating for a few days leading up to your period, however this normally settles by itself.
  • Medications for high blood pressure, pain management, antidepressants and some cardiovascular medical conditions can contribute to fluid retention.
  • Carbonated drinks cause bloating, so stay away from them. 
  • Food allergies or food intolerances can be behind a bloated feeling after eating certain foods.
  • Some starchy foods may cause bloating in some people.

These 7 Ways May Help to say goodbye to feeling bloated:

  1. Try reducing your portion sizes and monitor if you feel any different after meals.
  2. Eat your food slower, put your knife and fork down between each mouthful and savour your food.
  3. Common foods that may cause allergies include: eggs, lactose, casein, fructose, nuts, beer, wheat and gluten containing foods. Monitor how you feel after eating these foods (one at a time) and reduce or don’t eat at all any foods to which you have an abnormal reaction. Be aware that you might be consuming two foods that bloat you. Say you eliminate food A and the bloating remains. You could assume “It wasn’t that food.”. Then you go back to eating food A and eliminate food B, and bloating remains. You could assume “It wasn’t that food either.” It’s best to eliminate both foods and test one at a time.
  4. Keep yourself well-hydrated with water, black tea or coffee, herbal tea, clear soup and bone broth.
  5. Going for a walk, doing yoga or even taking a warm bath with essential oils is not only relaxing but helps relieve symptoms.
  6. Massaging your tummy area may give you relief. Peppermint oil may be helpful.
  7. Avoid chewing gum, as this can cause you to swallow extra air and lead to bloating.

Be Aware of These Foods if You Want to Reduce the Bloat

This list includes the basic foods and drinks to be aware of and some suggested substitutes.

  • Beans – mung or adzuki beans are easier to digest, always soak before cooking.
  • Carbonated beverages – stick to water, black tea or coffee and herbal tea
  • Wheat – gluten sensitivity can cause coeliac disease – found in bread, pasta, baked goods and some sauces
  • Rye and barley – found in many cereals
  • Onions and garlic – substitute with herbs and spices, celery, leek or fennel
  • Cruciferous vegetables – cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts
  • Dairy – try lactose-free or A2 milk, cheese and yoghurt
  • Sugar alcohols – used in beverages, foods and chewing gum
  • Alcohol – in particular beer made from barley and/or wheat
  • Apples and pears – cooking them can make them more digestible
  • Takeaway food – monitor as many additives are found in takeaway food

That still leaves an enormous amount of protein-rich foods from meat and seafoods, most vegetables and fruits, good (naturally occurring) fats, and many options for dairy and low carbohydrate foods and drinks.

It’s probably wiser to feel comfortable than to eat foods that upset you. Don’t look on it as deprivation – look on it as improving your health – because you’re worth it!!!

If you have chronic bloating, then please see your doctor to eliminate any serious medical problems, if you haven’t already done this.

However, for most people bloating can be reduced – or even eliminated – with some simple changes to your diet and your activity level.