Bloated? It may be more than your food…

One of the major “gut health” concerns I deal with is bloating, and for good reason. 

Bloating sucks. Regardless of the frequency or severity, it’s something no one wants to deal with. And while yes, food intolerances or sensitivities can definitely play a part, I feel there are a number of factors that are criminally overlooked. 

If you’re wanting to reduce your bloating but you don’t want to cut out a bunch of foods, this is the episode for you. 


Welcome back to the Bite Me nutrition podcast. Today we're going to be talking about ways that you can troubleshoot your Bloating that don't involve you cutting out foods. So if you're struggling with bloating and it's something you haven't looked into before, look, firstly, as is always the case, if you've got gut symptoms that you are not happy about, please speak to your doctor. They'll ask you a few questions. They might recommend a test or two to rule out some scary stuff. Not saying that's what's going on, but it's always good to just rule it out. And if that's been ruled out, then the next thing that you would probably look at is your diet. And I think what everyone jumps to is what food is it that's causing me to blow? What food do I need to cut out from my diet? What food am I intolerant of? What food is poisoning me? So on and so forth. And look, there are absolutely times where someone is intolerant or sensitive to something. That's why the low flood map diet exists. And that's a very legitimate approach that's very relevant for lots of people. However, like I said, I think we do jump straight to what food can I cut out a bit too quickly? So I'm going to go through the list of things that I go through with clients that are non food related or don't require you to cut out any food. And these ones are typically pretty quick to sort of knock off. So I would work through this list, go through them and see if you get any relief from your bloating. Because I've had lots of times where someone has come to see me convinced that they're intolerant of something and we've gone through some behavioral practical stuff and it turns out it's just the way that they're eating or a few other bits and pieces rather than gluten or dairy or other things. The first and by far the most important thing. And if you've listened to my reflux podcast, you can probably guess what this is because the same principle applies here. You need to chew your food. You need to eat slower. If you are not the last person finishing at the dinner table, start with that. Okay? The less well you chew your food, the harder your digestive system has to work, the more likely it is to be grumpy and bloat and be aggravated. So that is one of the simplest ways that you can do that. So chew your food. Put your knife and fork down between every bite or two, or put the sandwich or burger down between every bite or two. Be conscious of the size of the bites that you're taking. Try and finish last if you're eating in a group. As always with that caveat, I know there's scenarios at work or with family and kids and things where you're not going to be able to do that. That's okay. But if you're trying to get to the bottom of your Bloating, that would be a huge one that I would try to implement. The next one, I guess, again, you probably heard from the reflux podcast, is the posture while you're eating similar to with the reflux, we want to be sitting up nice and straight. If you can think about where your stomach and your guts are, your small and large intestine in your abdomen, you want to give them plenty of room to do their thing. So think about sitting up straight during the meal and also for as long as possible after the meal, an hour, maybe even 2 hours, just to give it space and allow gravity to do its thing. Kind of. The next two are related. We're talking about meal frequency and portion sizes. Another mistake I see a lot of people make is they don't eat for five to 6 hours and they eat this massive meal and they feel terrible afterwards. Now some people eat a massive meal and feel fine. If that's you, move on to the next point. If that's not you, it could be just the sheer volume of that food pushing out in your gastrointestinal system, in your gut and making it cranky and that's causing Bloating. I think we can all think about that time, or maybe we can't all think maybe I'm projecting, but you eat a whole pizza and afterwards you're like, oh, I feel kind of Bloated. I think I'm allergic to dairy. No, you're not. You just ate a whole pizza and that's okay. But that's why you're bloated. It's not a pathological reason why you're Bloated. Now obviously you can do that at a smaller scale as well. Maybe you just ate chicken, veggies and potato, but because you hadn't eaten in hours and hours, you were starving and so you had a massive portion of that stuff. So I guess trying to eat every kind of two to 4 hours for most people is a good frequency to help with Bloating. And then the next thing that will probably shift itself anyway based on eating more regularly is bringing those portion sizes down a bit so you're eating smaller meals more often. Cool. The next thing that people often overlook is tight clothing. If you have something tight around your midsection, it's particularly bad with tights workout tights, but any kind of tight clothing around that midsection can aggravate that area. Again, I'm not saying it will aggravate everyone. If you wear tight clothing and feel fine, please don't panic. But if you're struggling with Bloating, I would do your best to try and choose the looser options from your wardrobe for a while because tight clothing can definitely contribute to that Bloating sensation. Now the next one is about removing something, but it's not food. So I feel like that's a good loophole, right? Removing any supplements that you're taking that's any non food things in your diet. Now I would preface this by saying if a doctor has told you to take a specific supplement, please check with them first before ceasing any of that stuff. And I'm certainly not talking about medications in this scenario, I'm talking about supplements. So if you're taking some multivitamin or you've got a protein supplement or a sports supplement, or Creatine, you've probably heard me rave about Creatine before, but in this scenario, remove anything that has not been prescribed by a doctor and isn't food and give it a few weeks. Because a lot of the time that stuff can contain other things that we're not aware of that are contributing to our Bloating, right? So a couple of weeks removing anything that's not food or prescribed, the next thing is also removal, but again, it's not food. So I'm exploiting that loophole, looking at liquids with meals. So if you are having any fluids with that meal, whether that be still or sparkling, it can still potentially contribute to Bloating. For some people, if you have liquids with meals and feel fine, again, don't panic. It doesn't impact your digestion, but for other people, it can contribute to Bloating. So try and cease drinking about 15 minutes before a meal and give it about 15 to 20 minutes after a meal before you have another drink. The last one is stress. And I say that obviously you can't just stop being stressed, you can't just remove stress. And so I want to make you aware of stress's impact on Bloating. Because A, it is very, very legitimate and documented where you have the gut brain axis, the vagus nerve, which travels from your gut to your brain. And so if you're feeling stressed mentally, that's going to impact your gut symptoms and your gut symptoms. So it's a very real link. So I guess the first thing would be to encourage you to try and manage your stress where you can. I know that's a broad topic and definitely not possible for everyone, but if you're the sort of person that feels like taking a 15 minutes break to go for a quick walk from work is a waste of your time, but you're struggling with Bloating, it's probably not a waste of your time, right? So think about ways in which you can manage your stress. If there's anything you've left on the table that you could try, please do it. Then. Like I said, there's going to be lots of things that we can't manage or that are outside of our control. If that is the case, just know that stressful scenarios can absolutely cause your Bloating to exacerbate. So you might find that you aren't Bloated, but then you have a block a month or two of really bad Bloating or worse than usual Bloating, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if that tracks with a more stressful scenario or period in your life. And so if that is the case, it might be a matter of I don't want to say rolling with the punctures, but at least kind of if you've got an explanation as to why I've been suffering a bit more from that Bloating, it might make it a bit less stressful, the Bloating itself, right? You could be like, oh, it's the stress that's contributing to my Bloating. I'm not intolerant necessarily of anything. It's just this is that phase. And potentially some of the other things I've already discussed could help reduce Bloating that is triggered by stress. Right? Now, if you've gone through all of those things, you've seen a GP and they've either asked you a bunch of questions or gotten you to do some tests and they've ruled out, we're always looking to rule out things like inflammatory bowel diseases, crohn's colitis, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, and then bowel cancer. Those are the big ones that we do want to rule out. So, as you can hear, they're all very serious, so it's important to rule those out. But if they've been ruled out and you've gone through the non food related things I've discussed and you're still struggling with Bloating, that would be when I would be looking at some kind of elimination diet, a low Fodmap approach, potentially. But as always, it would be fantastic for you to chat with a dietitian so they can get a good handle on what you're currently doing, get the lay of the land and recommend you the right approach. But anyway, I see far too many people cut out foods because they're Bloating, and it makes me sad because food is awesome and it makes me even sadder when it turns out they didn't even need to cut that food out, right. So hopefully a few of these suggestions have kind of pricked your ears up and made you think, oh, actually, you know what? I probably do eat too quickly and I'm Bloating all the time. This podcast is for you, and if it's not for you, feel free to share it with someone else and hopefully it will be for them. And if it was for you and you found relief, I would be very grateful if you could. What do we do here? Oh, like, I don't think you can like a podcast, actually rate and review, do that one and I think you can subscribe. You can't like, whatever positive affirmations you can give me via your podcast app, I will take and be very grateful for. So thank you and I'll see you next time.