Have you ever noticed how sometimes after lunch your belly is three times bigger than usual up to a point where you have to unbutton your pants? You don’t understand why because you didn’t overeat, but your abdomen is awkwardly full and gassy anyway.
Bloating is a common problem for adults as well as children. The condition often prevents people from engaging in fun activities or even be “good at life.” A study has shown that people who have this issue use more of their sick days at work, go to the doctor more often and take more meds.
Distension doesn’t always mean big belly. It can also be excessive burping, flatulence (too much gas) or gurgles. Some medical conditions such as cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, liver disease, and gluten intolerance can be the reason for the problem. A lot of times, however, the culprit is your diet.
The inability to empty the bowels and bloated belly usually go hand in hand, research has shown. Make sure you get enough fiber in you – 25 grams a day for adult women and 30 to 38 for adult men. High fiber foods include oatmeal, raspberries, almonds, apples, green vegetables. Drink water often and stay active to avoid constipation. Legumes also have lots of fiber but they can cause bloating too, so try to avoid them if excessive gas is the problem.
People who have lactose intolerance – when the small intestine doesn’t make enough of the enzyme needed to break down lactose (natural sugar) – often suffer from bloating when they eat dairy products, even a little bit of cheese or ice cream. The undigested sugar then goes to the large intestine ad mixes with the bacteria there causing the swelling of the stomach.
Chewing gum causes you to swallow extra air which leads to abdominal bloating. Also, chewing gum makes your body think that food is coming in. It starts to produce the enzymes necessary to break it down. But when there is no food to process, bloating occurs because now you have too much stomach acid in your belly. Have some popcorn – it will help you lose weight – or a healthy snack next time you feel like chewing gum.
Eating Too Fast
When you eat too fast you don’t really chew the food. You swallow it along with the extra air in your mouth. The extra air is what will cause the bloating in a few minutes. A normal meal should last about half an hour. Are you done in 15 minutes? It’s OK only if your workout is that long. Slow down. Bonus: Studies have proven than eating slowly means eating less (which means weight loss).
Carbonated drinks make you gassy because they have lots of bubbles (extra air) and block gas in your stomach. Diet soda is a no-no too. The best thing will be to not drink them at all, but if you must, add ice or shake the can before opening it.
People who are on a low-carb diet usually boast about their distension-free life. However, carbohydrates are very important and you should not avoid them. About 50 percent of the calories you consume a day should come from healthy carbs. Some people, however, have trouble digesting them. Pasta, cereal, white rice and bread are rich on carbs. Because of that, eating more of them causes your body to store more water, leading to the uncomfortably full belly.
Processed foods are the perfect example. They contain a lot of sodium which leads to fluid retention (because it’s trying to prevent dehydration) and a desire to drink more water – bad combination for a swollen belly.
Abdominal bloating is common but easily treatable. Try to eat more lean meat, cooked vegetables, citrus fruits, low-sodium snacks, yogurt (for some extra protein anyway). Drink more water and tea. Studies have found that ginger, peppermint and fennel tea really help.