something almost all of us deal with on a way-too-regular basis (and I know that it’s not just me — y’all have been very vocal about this on IG).
bloating sucks, and it’s not just about the vanity (though there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to look like you have a bigger stomach than you actually do … so let go of any guilt around that, too). it can be seriously painful and uncomfortable, and sometimes it lasts for days. sometimes it interferes with eating and sleeping, but more often than not it causes a lot of emotional distress; you don’t feel like yourself.
so what can you do? as someone who bloats just as much as the next girl, I’ve compiled my list of go-tos. a lot of it is centered on getting your gut and digestive tract on track. all of these tips also contribute to better health overall — not just bloat management!
I also want to add a little disclaimer and something I think it’s important for everyone to keep in mind, regardless of topic. no one single thing works for every person. while probiotics really work for me, they don’t do jack sh*t for someone else — you know? and some people have major success with enzymes or cutting certain food groups, while those tactics are completely ineffective for others.
with that out of the way, let’s get down to business and defeat the …. bloating.
- probiotics. probiotics have been one of the most profound anti-bloating tools for me. a gastroenterologist prescribed them to me about two maybe three years ago, and I’ve been on them since. I have no brand affiliations (aka not sponsored) but the brand he prescribed to me was align, and I’ve been using align only from that moment on. you can get them at costco or at amazon (subscribe + saaaave baby!) for the lowest price.
- stress reduction. this tip is the toughest to tackle but the true panacea for all health issues, bloating included. stress wreaks havoc on your body in an infinite myriad of ways (yes, thoughts and emotions affect your physical body) and that includes upsetting the balance in your gut. this tip in and of itself could be an independent article, but in general, you’ve gotta find ways to cut down on what’s chronically spiking your stress response. this is undoubtedly leading you to bloat.
- drink more water. similarly a panacea for health issues, WATER. you’re likely also dehydrated and for reasons that are still unclear to me, this impacts your bloating as well. I’m pretty sure it’s about maintaining homeostasis and all that but I’m not a doctor so like don’t quote but deeeefinitely drink more water.
- reduced alcohol. speaking of upsetting your gut, alcohol can irritate your digestive tract leading to bloating as well. have you ever been super bloated and hungover? not the most comfortable state amirite. there are a few reasons physiologically why this can happen, but the end result is the same: for some people (myself included) alcohol can contribute to bloating. reducing your intake can help, whether that’s fewer drinks on a night out, not drinking during the week, or cutting down in general. hot tip: this is also an effective debloating method for PMS-induced bloat.
- limited sugar. you’ve probably heard this one too, but sugar can absolutely generate a distended stomach as well. your gut bacteria noshes on the sugar you’ve ingested and then releases gas, creating a bloated belly. cutting down on sweets may help you from feeling like you’ve got a food baby.
- limited carbonation. similarly, putting gas in your digestive tract isn’t necessarily conducive to a flat stomach. and as much as I love drinking la croix like it’s my damn day job, it doesn’t help the whole bloat situation. try to cut down on carbonation, especially if it’s soda — that whole sugar-slash-chemicals-slash-carbonation thing isn’t doing your abdomen any favors.
- identifying food triggers. I don’t like telling people to eliminate food groups because (well because I’m not a dietitian) I think people tend to overdo this unnecessarily, but food sensitivities obviously are a culprit in this case as well. finding which foods agitate and irritate your gut is a crucial step in debloating. for some, it’s dairy and for others it’s gluten, and getting more nuanced, it can be something seemingly innocuous like garlic and onions, or foods on the fodmaps list (fermented oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). trust me I’ve done the low-fodmaps diet before and it’s like trying to do the nyt crossword puzzle drunk, and also the puzzle is in inuktitut. it’s incredibly intricate and not intuitive whatsoever. that said, keeping a food journal could be a powerful tool in helping you identify what does and doesn’t work for your body specifically.
- digestive enzymes. ok so this is not something I’ve personally tried (though I do love me some papaya — rich with dem enzymes) but one of my best friends uses them and they apparently work wonders. gonna get those asap. there is limited science on the efficacy of supplemental enzymes, which doesn’t mean they don’t work, it just means that we’re waiting for proof on how it can work. anecdotal experience has shown that they can kick ass for many people suffering from bloating, so check it out (and confer with a doctor!).
- ginger, ginger, ginger. I love ginger. it’s just so good for everything. it also settles my stomach and helps with digestion. ginger has been used for centuries in different naturopathic and medicinal practices in many cultures, and it is an excellent homeopathic remedy for tummy troubles. I love ginger in smoothies and juices for a debloating cocktail, as well as other foods known to debloat like fennel, papaya, pineapple, and more. one of my favorite combos is all of those things: ginger, fennel, pineapple, and papaya in a smoothie.
- drink tea. ginger tea, for starters! a hot ginger tea is like a debloating elixir. I also am obsessed with my digestive-aiding sakara tea (discount: XODOMINIQUE), and of course, david’s tea. all of it. all the time. using it as a nightcap helps curb my sweets cravings (tip 5), reduces my chance of drinking a la croix at night (tip 6), increases my water intake (tip 3), and helps me unwind and reduce stress (tip 2). I freakin’ love tea.
- low-impact exercise. did you think I was going to skip the fitness part? so cardio actually causes bloating for me, but low impact exercise (which doesn’t stimulate my sympathetic nervous system/stress response like cardio does) keeps my digestive tract, gut, and belly in a happy place. plus, exercise in general contributes to a healthier and more regular digestive system, keeping you more regular, and cutting down on bloating. this is also a prescription for PMS-related bloating. so go book that pilates class. ps — there are some yoga poses and stretches for bloating, too (I wrote about this a while back). check those out.
again, all of these tips contribute to a healthier body and brain. things like cutting down on sugar and alcohol, eating ginger and drinking tea, and getting a hold on stressors all help you get to a better place physically and emotionally, all while targeting bloating. to me, that’s the best part — not only can you conquer (or work on conquering) one of the most annoying health woes of our time, but you’re being better to yourself in the process.
remember: not every tip will work for you. but some might work wonders! lmk how it goes:)