Bloating can be a real big deal for people with IBS because they may experience it quite often. People usually describe it as if they swallowed a balloon or look pregnant with the belly visibly distended. Sometimes the bloating can be really disturbing causing abdominal pain and discomfort. Bloating progresses as the day goes by, and by end of the day people report that they can’t even button their pants. Excessive bloating may prevent people from doing things they enjoy, such as going out with friends, attending meetings and events or participating in favorite activities.
The cause of IBS is unknown and at this moment there is no cure. But there are some diet and lifestyle changes you can do to beat the bloat. You may reduce or eliminate the symptoms by adhering to the following steps:
- Regular exercise or any daily movement causes the food to be moved down the gut by gravity which reduces the time for bacterial fermentation. Any movement may help to contribute to symptom relief, such as walking, biking, swimming, running or dancing. Do what makes you feel good, there is no need to spend countless hours in the gym.
- Making sure that you have daily bowel movements. Constipation and irregular defecation cause bloating due to the prolong sitting of food in the colon being fermented by bacteria. It leads to excessive gas production and abdominal pain.
- Eating small meals will help with digestion and absorption of nutrients in the gut. It takes longer time for bigger meals to be digested and eliminated giving more time for intestinal bacteria to ferment and produce gas.
- Having regular meals will help to reduce the bloating by making you satiated throughout the day and help to avoid overeating. Skipping meals will promote consuming larger meals and choosing foods that are gut irritants, such as foods high in fat.
- Practice mindful eating making sure that you chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly. When people eat fast, they tend to swallow the air together with food. It may contribute to accumulation of air bubbles in the gut leading to bloating.
- Quit smoking if you do. This includes regular cigarettes, hookah, vapers, or any smoking devices. Inhaled air travels not only to your lungs but down the GI tract contributing to bloating.
- Check for allergies or sensitivities to different foods. For example, you may have lactose or gluten intolerance which may lead to inflammation and bloating. Some food constituents may also cause excessive gas production, so figuring out which chemicals in food cause your symptoms can help to eliminate or reduce the bloat.
- Avoiding fizzy or carbonated drinks may decrease the bloating because bubbles in this type of drinks may travel down the GI tract and accumulate. Choose drinks that are still an not carbonated, such as infused water or flavored tea (Cold or hot).
- Reduce or eliminate sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol and others. Sugar alcohols are added to sweets and confectionery as a low-calorie sweetener and taste enhancer. These polyols are extracted from fruits and vegetables, so knowing which plants naturally contain sugar alcohols and avoiding them, can help to avoid the symptoms and reduce the bloating.
- Stop chewing the gum. It doesn’t only contain sugar alcohols, but also makes you swallow the air when you chew it. You can try either reducing the chewing time or the number of gums per day. If it doesn’t help, avoid chewing the gum completely.
I hope that some of these tips will help you feel better and eliminate or reduce the number of flare ups. Start with lifestyle changes before restricting and giving up your favorite foods. Do one thing at a time to know what’s causing the bloat. Beat the bloat by following these steps and enjoy your food without a fear of being bloated.