Do you feel a little bloated after certain meals? Ever wonder why that happens? The truth is that a little bloating is totally normal. After you eat, your stomach gets distended a little as it enlarges to accommodate the food you have just consumed. What isn’t normal is a perfectly flat stomach all the time. So if you feel a little bulge in your belly every day, do not be alarmed.
Foods That Cause Bloating
However, there are indeed some foods which cause such fierce bloating that people jokingly congratulate you on your ‘baby bump’. That’s the kind of bloating you should watch out for because it can lead to socially-unacceptable body reactions like belching and flatulence, both accompanied by offensive odors.
Bloating is usually a symptom of food intolerance. We are all intolerant to a few foods to a certain degree. Some foods affect most of us similarly while others only affect those who have a particularly high intolerance for them. We’ll take a look at the most common foods that cause bloating.
Cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage have long been maligned for causing bloating and particularly-odiferous flatulence. So steer clear of these if you’re going to be wearing something tight later in the day or are going to be sharing a small space with a lot of people.
Other veggies that are known to lead to stomach gasses and thus cause bloating include asparagus, garlic and onions.
Red gram, chick pea, moong and all lentils which are extremely good for health are forms of complex protein and carbohydrates which are tough, but not impossible, for the body to digest. They inevitably cause bloating when your stomach takes longer to break them down.
You’ve probably heard a lot of children’s poems about beans and their…ahem… affect on the digestive system. There’s very little in those songs that isn’t accurate. Beans contain a sugar called oligosaccharide which our systems cannot digest. Oligosaccharide just passes from your stomach to your intestines where a host of healthy bacteria begin to break it down. It is the action of these bacteria which causes bloating and the unfortunate flatulence that follows.
Things from Your Spice Shelf
When you eat spicy foods, your stomach is literally assaulted by the active enzymes in them which give them their tongue-biting spiciness. So your stomach goes into overdrive by producing more acids in an attempt to quickly calm down the fire. This over-production of acid leads to a sort of fermentation in your belly and will cause bloating, most likely heartburn too.
Not Just Starchy, Bloaty too
Foods that are high in starch have to travel all the way to the intestine before they can be properly digested. As we have seen, this is the perfect recipe for bloating. Rice, bread and potatoes fall into this food group, but anything that is mainly constituted of flour will have the same effect. Bakery goodies, anyone?
Some people have an inbuilt intolerance to dairy products which manifests as bloating and flatulence. The truth is that we all have an intolerance to dairy to some degree, but it is more apparent in those who are diagnosed as lactose intolerant. Cutting down on full-fat cheeses and milk has been known to help curb bloating.
This one’s a no-brainer. You’ve probably felt most bloated after downing even just one carbonated drink. This is because the molecules in the soda contain air (which is what makes it fizzy) and this excess air gets trapped in your stomach and intestines thus causing bloating.
We’re not talking about the stir-fried veggies from that Chinese takeout place. The culprits that cause bloating are the ones that are deep-fried and dripping in oil. Your stomach is not built for that kind of heaviness so it takes a while before the fried, greasy foods are broken down enough to pass them further along the digestive system. Since they are sitting in your stomach for quite some time before that happens, gas builds up which leads to the obvious bloating and in some cases heartburn, belching and flatulence.
You’ve probably already realized that eating even just a handful of packaged potato chips makes your stomach bloat right out. You can thank the ridiculous amounts of salt in the chips for that. Salt contains sodium which causes your body to retain water. All that extra water in your cells is what makes you look puffy and bloated. Table salt, rock salt, pink, white and black salt – no matter what the type, too much of it and you’ll have a little bump to show for it after your meal.
Just because these foods cause bloating does not mean you avoid them completely. In fact, most of the foods on this list are healthy and belong in a balanced diet. So by all means enjoy them with gusto. If you know you’re going to want to sport a flat tummy down the line, like a couple of days before a party or wedding or slipping into your teeny-tiny bikini, just skip these food items or consume them in restricted quantities.
Apart from avoiding these foods in particular on days you want to sport a flatter mid-section, there are other precautions you can take too.
- Avoid chewing gum. The action of chewing on gum requires you to keep your mouth open to some extent. This causes excess air to travel to your tummy and causes a boated look.
- Quit smoking. Like the gum, the action of smoking causes excess air to be trapped in your belly.
- This may surprise you, but sometimes not eating can cause bloating too.
- Eating large amounts of food, even if it’s none of the foods on this list, causes your stomach to bloat since it has to expand even more to accommodate everything that’s coming in.
- Chew your food properly. Digestion begins in the mouth. If you do most of the work there, then your stomach will have an easier job doing the rest. This means the food you eat spends less time in your stomach thus reducing the amount of fermentation that occurs which in turn will prevent bloating.
- Avoid talking when you eat. The talking causes extra air to be swallowed which causes bloating.
- If you’re constipated, the waste matter is essentially fermenting in your colon and intestines and can cause bloating too. So avoid foods and habits which you know will get you constipated. Read more in our article about remedies for constipation.
- Drinking sufficient water can also prevent bloating. So get in those eight glasses a day at least to keep bloating at bay.
- For some people, eating fruit too close to or with their regular meals can cause bloating since their bodies are not equipped to handle fruit sugars. If you know you fall into this category, eat your fruit at least half an hour before your meals to prevent bloating.