It's a familiar scenario. You're tucking into your favourite meal, But within about 0.5 seconds of your final mouthful, the enjoyment is replaced soon with that familiar feeling of regret. Your belly feels swollen, distended and like you're three months pregnant. Yes, it exactly feels same.
It's nothing but just the post-meal bloat.
If I explain it in simple words, bloating involves excess amounts of liquids, solids and gas in the digestive system which causes discomfort, sometimes pain and stuffed kind of feeling..
As a society, we seem to have a phobia of bloating. Everywhere we look, there are well intentioned guides on how to naturally reduce bloating.
But here's the thing: a little bloating is completely natural.
Our stomach naturally distend after eating to allow for digestion, even if you've eaten something perfectly healthy.
How to deal with bloating
When bloating is purely a superficial issue (i.e. there's no pain or major discomfort in your stomach), the best thing you can do is change your mind-set around it. It helps to remind yourself that it's normal, your body's natural processes at work. Your body is just digested and using all those glorious nutrients to fuel your body.
Often, what we hate so much about bloating is the fact that it makes us feel like we've literally gained 5 kilos in one meal.
Also, when was the last time you noticed that someone else was bloated? I'm willing to bet the answer is never.' Remember, you're probably the only one who's going to notice your food baby.
When is bloating actually an issue?
That's not to say that bloating is always something to be ignored. Some people have genuine food intolerances which when left untreated, can lead to severe discomfort and other health issues like a compromised immune system.
So, when should you be worried about bloating? If that swollen feeling is accompanied by pain or other digestive issues (for example, constipation, diarrhoea, or needing to run to the bathroom) it's important to see your doctor.
Another sign is Gassiness
Gas is actually a natural, healthy reaction as it means fermentation is happening within the gut. So, a little gas, can be a good thing.
However, if the odour is so bad that your dog won't even look you in the eye, you're going to get that checked out.
What to do when bloating is an issue
If bloating is an issue for you, there are a few things you can do to deal with it:-
Identify which foods are causing it
Eliminating all foods unnecessarily is a bad idea, as you can miss out on valuable nutrients. Plus, it makes it hard to pinpoint what is triggering the issue.
Incorporate more of fibrous foods like seasonal fruits, vegetables, salads and whole grain cereals in your daily diet. Make sure, you increase your fibre intake gradually in order to let the body adjust these diet changes.
Sometimes abdominal massages and exercises or yoga poses are of great help to reduce bloating fast. It helps in relieving flatulence.
Ultimate solution to prevent reoccurring is to make simple lifestyle changes in your daily routine.
Consider the not-so-usual suspects
People are quick to point the finger at gluten or dairy when it comes to bloating. And while these are common food intolerances, it can sometimes be certain ingredients in them that cause the symptoms.
For example, lectin is a carbohydrate-binding protein found in everything from dairy products and grains to legumes and certain vegetables and many people have been found to be intolerant to them.
Similarly, some people think they're intolerant to rice (which is gluten-free, by the way!), but the problem is actually the garlic or onion that's served with it.
Some people believe they have food intolerances, only to discover that they actually have a gut infection like H. Pylori, which causes similar symptoms.
Bottom line is to start by having a chat with your doctor who can refer you to a dietitian.
Don't break up with beans
Beans and other legumes like chickpeas are Amazing for you. They're naturally high in protein and rich in fibre to help keep you full for longer.
Unfortunately, they're also a major source of bloating in some people. Try switching to tinned beans, as these can be easier to digest than dried. Rinsing them twice before using can also help.
The portion size is also important. So, start with small amounts, eating them more regularly before you up your potion size. Many people rarely eat legumes, eat a whole serve, then wonder why the feel average.
If you eat them frequently, chances are your gut will get used to eating them. And If your gut doesn't get used to eating legumes, that's okay! They're not for everyone and there's plenty of other delicious foods out there you can eat instead.
Regular fibre , prebiotics (found in vegetables, legumes and fruits), probiotics (found in yoghurt with live cultures) drinking adequate water and mild exercising are the key things which are required for good gut health. Incorporate both Soluble as well as insoluble fibre in diet as it speeds up the time food passes through the gut. Making out some dietary changes with the help of health expert would be an effective way to manage bloating.