Each afternoon I become incredibly bloated and uncomfortable. How can I stop this from happening?
This has been my most popular question these past two weeks from clients so if this is on your mind right now or you know someone in your office, friendship group or a member of your family that complains of bloating, I hope these actionable tips help you to lead a healthy lifestyle, bloating-free.
Bloating can be caused by a number of things. One of the first is stress. The production of stress hormones causes blood flow to be diverted away from digestion to more important tasks and functions so that your limbs and brain are powered with a good blood supply and oxygenation to get out of danger should they need to during this stressful period. In theory, when the stress goes, our gut function should return to normal which explains why when you go on holiday and relax, your symptoms might get better. If this is something you resonate with, then unless you can go on holiday at the drop of a hat, I would recommend practicing some deep breathing or getting involved in a yoga class to teach you the skills to allow your body to stop and pause.
Bloating can be caused by diet, but also by other things going on in your life. Too many people are often stressed regularly due to their pace of life or perception of pressure and urgency. Do you feel you are go go go most of the time? When we eat in this rushed state there may not be an efficient blood supply supporting the digestive system and this is felt with a reminder from our body to tell us to s-l-o-w down.
Top tip: before you enjoy your meal, put your phone on timer for 15 minutes and try and enjoy your meal over a 15 minute window. I found this SO hard to do when I first did this exercise, but it showed my fiancé and I that we eat a record setting speed and we needed to seriously s-l-o-w down! Give it a go, it’ll be a real eye opener. I was twiddling my thumbs having finished my meal after 5 minutes the first time I did it. I put it down to growing up with two brothers who ate at lightning pace, but it can easily be un-learnt so the timer exercise is simple but brilliant.
During stressful periods – or every day of some people’s lives – stomach acid production can be compromised and this can cause digestive disturbances right from the outset. Think of your food as a big long string of circles, or pearls on a string. Your teeth and saliva go to work first on breaking the circles apart. Stomach acid then continues that break-down process.
Poor stomach acid production alone can lead to bloating. When food is not broken down sufficiently it may arrive in the intestines in a form that is still too large. Here the bacteria that inhabit the large intestine will begin to ferment whatever food is delivered to them, and produce gas leading to the bloated feeling.
Proper chewing is the first step to helping reduce bloating. Sit in a calm state and focus on chewing your food properly. You might be surprised at how much of a difference this can make.
Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in water before meals can help to increase stomach acid production, which further helps with proper digestion of food. Just add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in water or use the juice of half a lemon in water pre-meals or watch this video here. It is also a good idea to drink water away from meals rather than with them to maximise the action of stomach acid.
Sometimes bloating is caused by the consumption of foods that your body cannot digest efficiently. Having worked with people for 5 years, I’ve found that many people feel better after the removal of gluten from their diet. However, if there is a food that you suspect may be causing your bloating, see a health professional experienced in this area (moi) and they will likely guide you to trial its removal for a four week period, while still ensuring you obtain optimal nutrition.
What one tip would you share with someone who experiences bloating? Share your positive experiences below if you’ve had one or if you’ve tried any of the above tips and it has worked – how long did it take you to notice a difference?
All my healthy best,