Advertisement

4 Simple Ways to Beat Bloat

Do you feel swollen and full—a little like an overinflated balloon? Take control with these easy tips.

1 / 6

If you’re like most people, odds are you’re familiar with bloating—that uncomfortable feeling of fullness and tightness that challenges the waistband of even your best-fitting jeans.

Bloating may occur when there’s a buildup of gas or air in your digestive system. It can be caused by a variety of things, including constipation, menstruation, stress, an imbalance of gut bacteria and what you eat.

Feeling bloated on occasion is normal and often treatable. You may be able to prevent it from happening in the first place, too, by making a few key diet and lifestyle changes.

With that in mind, here are some effortless ways to de-bloat.

Medically reviewed in December 2020.

STEER CLEAR OF CERTAIN FOODS

2 / 6 STEER CLEAR OF CERTAIN FOODS

Legumes (beans and lentils) and carbonated drinks are among the foods and beverages that can cause you to feel bloated. Foods containing certain artificial sweeteners such as xylitol and sorbitol may also produce symptoms; these include some gums and candies, as well as products for people with diabetes.

Some people have food intolerances that trigger gas and bloating. They may have a hard time digesting a natural sugar called fructose, found in honey, juice, fruit and some vegetables. Or they could find dairy products problematic, because they contain a different natural sugar, called lactose.

If you feel bloated after eating, it may help to keep a food journal. Record what you have for each of your meals, plus any days you have severe symptoms. You may start to notice patterns and certain foods that trigger the discomfort.

Speak with your healthcare provider (HCP), too. Your HCP may recommend cutting back on the foods triggering your symptoms and making some strategic swaps. If dairy products give you a hard time, you might opt for plant-based milks and cheeses so you can enjoy your favorite dishes, sans lactose. Try coconut yogurts, cashew cheeses and cashew, oat, almond, soy or coconut milks in place of cow-based products.

CHANGE YOUR EATING HABITS

3 / 6 CHANGE YOUR EATING HABITS

Sometimes, bloating isn’t a result of what you eat, but how you eat. If you speed through meals, gulping  your food without fully chewing it, you could be swallowing extra air. This can create a buildup of gas, leading you to feel bloated.

The simple solution? Slow down when you dine, and make sure you chew your food thoroughly. It can be hard to take the time when you’re munching on the run, but it’s worth it to try to eat mindfully and savor your food.

Chewing gum could lead to more air-swallowing, too, as can smoking. If bloating is a problem for you, ditching tobacco may improve your symptoms, not to mention lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and many other chronic illnesses.

GET REGULAR EXERCISE

4 / 6 GET REGULAR EXERCISE

The last thing you probably want to do when you feel bloated is work up a sweat. But exercise can help move gas through the digestive tract, so you feel less tight.

You don’t have to get all of your exercise at one time. Breaking it up into 10- or 15-minute intervals is just as effective. Most people should aim to get at least the recommended 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Resistance training is important, too; try muscle-strengthening exercises twice a week.

ASK ABOUT MEDICATION

5 / 6 ASK ABOUT MEDICATION

Sometimes, over-the-counter (OTC) products containing an ingredient called simethicone are worth a try, such as Gas-X and Alka-Seltzer Anti-Gas. Simethicone helps break up gas bubbles in your digestive tract.

Products like Beano and Gas-X Prevention, which contain an enzyme called alpha-galactosidase, could also be helpful in some situations. Alpha-galactosidase aids in the digestion of complex carbohydrates, such as those found in beans and lentils.

And finally, for those with a lactose intolerance, OTC drugs containing lactase may work, such as Lactaid.

Look for options in your local drugstore. Or, ask your HCP for recommendations.

IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST, SEEK HELP

6 / 6 IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST, SEEK HELP

Bloating can be a symptom of more serious conditions, such as:

  • Functional dyspepsia (indigestion without cause)
  • Gastroparesis (delay in the emptying of the stomach)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Celiac disease
  • Certain types of cancer, including ovarian, stomach and colon cancer

If your bloating doesn’t subside, becomes severe, or happens consistently without an obvious cause, reach out to your HCP. Bloating accompanied by nausea, vomiting or bloody stools—anything gastrointestinal-related—is a sign that you need to see a provider, as well.

Sources:

Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Bloating: Causes and Prevention Tips.” 2020. Accessed November 12, 2020.
Dana Sparks. “Home Remedies: Gas, belching and bloating.” Mayo Clinic News Network. November 25, 2016.
UpToDate.com. “Patient education: Gas and Bloating (Beyond the Basics).” October 2020. Accessed November 12, 2020.
American Cancer Society. “Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer.” April 11, 2018. Accessed November 12, 2020.
Mayo Clinic. “Belching, gas and bloating: Tips for reducing them.” February 13, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020.
FamilyDoctor.org. “Bloating.” January 11, 2019. Accessed December 21, 2020.
Mayo Clinic. “Gas and gas pains.” March 3, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020.
JM Wilkinson, EW Coznie, & CG Loftus. “Gas, Bloating, and Belching: Approach to Evaluation and Management.” American Family Physician. March 1, 2019. 1;99(5):301-309.
Mayo Clinic. “Lactose intolerance.” April 7, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020.
Dairy Australia. “Do Dairy Foods Cause Bloating?” 2019. Accessed December 21, 2020.
Mayo Clinic. “Fructose intolerance: Which foods to avoid?” November 6, 2019. Accessed December 21, 2020.
Gas-X.com. “Eating Too Fast May Cause Bloating.” 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020.
Northwestern Medicine. “Quick Dose: Is Eating Too Fast Unhealthy?” 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020.
TG Cotter, M Gurney, & CG Loftus. “Gas and Bloating—Controlling Emissions: A Case-Based Review for the Primary Care Provider.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings. August 2016. Volume 91, Issue 8, pages 1105-1113.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd Edition.” 2018. Accessed December 21, 2020.
W Stephen Pray. “Strategies for the Relief of Bloating and Gas.” U.S. Pharmacist. December 17, 2009. 34(12):16-22. 
Mayo Clinic. “Functional dyspepsia.” April 3, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020.
Harvard Health Publishing. “What’s causing that belly bloat?” October 13, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020.

Continue Learning about Women's Health

4 Great Foods for Healthier Bones
4 Great Foods for Healthier Bones
Your body needs the right nutrients in the right amounts to maintain bone mass. You already know about calcium and vitamin D. But do you know about ot...
Read More
What women's health services must be completely covered by insurance?
Mercy HealthMercy Health
Health insurance plans must cover the following list of preventive services for women without chargi...
More Answers
6 Surprising Facts About Your Breasts
6 Surprising Facts About Your Breasts6 Surprising Facts About Your Breasts6 Surprising Facts About Your Breasts6 Surprising Facts About Your Breasts
Your breasts are pretty remarkable—you may not know everything they can do.
Start Slideshow
What Are Some Signs of Heart Disease in Women?
What Are Some Signs of Heart Disease in Women?