I’m a mother, nutritional therapist and author who has been sharing recipes to help you get the glow back for the last 8 years...
I want to share my 7 ways to feel less bloated today, because I’ve recently found a belly-soothing solution that really works for me. I get bloated easily – it’s my weak spot, and it’s actually what led me into healthy eating and food blogging in the first place.
Let’s go back for a moment. I had the worst digestive problems when I was diagnosed with IBS aged 20. I constantly looked about six months pregnant, I felt lethargic all the time and I was plagued by stomach pains. I had healthy intentions but I went about it the wrong way – I pretty much just ate fruit, rice cakes and Diet Coke, which made my bloating so much worse! And my lifestyle didn’t help my belly: booze, late nights and I grazed all day instead of sitting down to eat a proper meal.
Sound familiar? Bloating can happen to all of us, and there’s a lot we can do in terms of food and lifestyle to make us feel better. Here are my top tips for feeling more comfortable…
We’re so busy that we tend to eat at the same quick pace too, and that’s a fast track to being bloated. I set a reminder on my phone before each meal to prompt me to take three deep breaths. So before I eat, I’m that little bit calmer than I was before, and it means my belly doesn’t blow up afterwards. I’ve thought about getting ‘BREATHE’ tattooed on my hand so I’m reminded every time I pick up my fork. Too much?
We all know it’s important to chew our food, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re doing it! If I don’t think about it, I’ll wolf my meals down. Digestion starts in the mouth – if you don’t break your food down with your teeth, your gut has to do the job instead. I once went on a spa retreat at Viva Mayr where we were encouraged to chew each mouthful 25 times – that felt a bit arduous! So now I aim for 10 chews – that’s my magic number for slowing down.
You know when you get nervous before a big meeting, you feel it in your stomach? Or you get a gut feeling about a relationship? We feel stress in our gut; that’s why it’s known as the second brain. So if you’re often bloated, it may help to factor more relaxation into your day. I get stressed trying to juggle work and motherhood – so much to do! So to de-stress I go for a walk in the park every day, I practice yoga (this is my favourite calming routine, and it only takes 15 minutes) and I try to set a 10pm phone curfew before bed.
Research shows that gluten, dairy, sugar and even really healthy foods like garlic and onion can bloat you – so what does that leave you with?! Well, your gut is totally unique, so the likelihood is that only a few foods will make you blow out. So I recommend keeping a food diary to help identify your triggers: jot down what you eat, when you eat it and when you feel bloated.
If you want to read more about trigger foods, this research from Monash University in Australia is a good starting point.
Not in the happy hour sense! I find camomile tea very soothing when I’m bloated and I drink a couple of cups a day. It may also help to drink probiotics as these boost the good bacteria in your gut – I drink Rhythm Coconut Kefir most days, mixed into smoothies or just on its own, and it’s genuinely delicious. However, if you have severe IBS it’s definitely worth talking to your doctor as you might have a bacterial overgrowth so probiotics could make your bloating worse instead of better.
There are three words I never thought I’d write! OK, so drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your digestive system, and I’m pretty religious about getting my two litres a day. But drinking water at mealtimes isn’t so great for your belly. Why? Too much H2O dilutes your digestive enzymes, which are essential for breaking down food. So, try just sipping a little while you eat, and drinking most of your water between meals.
Call me Professor Obvious, but fizzy drinks are full of gas and that air goes straight to your stomach. Sparkling water is enough to make me bloated, and tragically champagne does too. The worst thing though is Diet Coke, because it’s full of aspartame, an artificial sweetener used in low calorie products which is an even bigger bloater than sugar.
This is a new one on me: intermittent fasting. I’d thought about trying to do a fast for a while but to be honest the idea of not eating for 14 hours wasn’t very appealing! But last week I gave it a go and wow, I feel so much better! I eat my dinner at 7pm then don’t have breakfast until 9am the next day. I’m not restricting my food at all, just the times that I eat it.
What do you find helps your bloating? I’d love to know so please comment over on my Instagram and let’s work this out together.
Love, Madeleine xx