The discomfort of bloating can quickly turn a good meal with good company into a reason to pack it in for the night. While bloating is commonly achieved by overeating, it is also impacted by the kinds of food you eat. Whether its food that’s difficult to digest, a carbonated beverage, or foods with high water content, it doesn’t take much to start feeling bloated. These tips on what to ditch and what to grab from Greatist.com can help avoid that uncomfortable gassy feeling and get you back to feeling like yourself again.
1. Beer: Beer is full of bubbles, which will leave you with a bloated belly. (It’s also worse than other carbonated beverages.) Research has shown that alcohol can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, which can leave you feeling inflated.
2. Frozen Dinners: When you’re buying processed food, check the label to see how much sodium it has. Frozen dinners and canned soups are often packed with salt. It’s added to boost flavor and lengthen shelf life, but it may cause you to retain water and feel bloated.
3. Broccoli: Veggies are full of fiber, which means they can be difficult to digest and tend to produce gas in your GI tract. Cruciferous veggies (like kale and broccoli) contain raffinose, a sugar that produces extra gas as it breaks down and can make you feel like you’re carting around some extra fluff. But veggies also bring a ton of nutritional benefitsto the table, so there’s no reason to swear off them completely. If you’re prone to bloating, cook your vegetables—the heat will help break down some of the fibers so your body doesn’t have to.
4. Dairy: If you’re lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy (many of us are to some degree), you may notice that milk products cause you to feel bloated. When your gut bacteria breaks down milk, it releases gas, which can lead to that uncomfortably full feeling. There’s an easy way to figure out if milk and cheese are the culprits behind your bloat: Try an elimination diet and see if you feel better eating dairy-free.
5. Diet Soda: Besides the bubbles, diet sodas are laced with artificial sweeteners that your body doesn’t know how to digest. Research has found these sweeteners disrupt the microbiota (your body’s natural balance of gut bacteria), which can lead to a bigger belly, both short and long term.
6. Legumes: They don’t call beans the musical fruit for nothing. Legumes require a big effort to break down. As your body works overtime digesting the sugar and fiber, it produces more gas in your gut, which can leave you with a bad case of bloat. But that shouldn’t be a reason to completely cut the superfood out of your diet. After all, it’s a great source of protein, iron, and folate. If you’re having a big meal, which can already lead to swelling, it’s probably best to steer clear of things like beans and edamame.
7. Gum: Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy causes most people to swallow more often—and part of what you’re swallowing is air. All of that extra air can back up in your digestive tract and leave you feeling bloated. Sugar-free gum is a particularly bad offender. Like diet soda, most sugar-free gum contains artificial sweeteners that are difficult for your body to break down and can cause you to feel gassy.
2. Fennel: Fennel seeds are your friend when it comes to digestion. In addition to being a diuretic—meaning they cause you to pee and flush out excess water weight—they also have a compound that may quiet digestive issues. If you’re not into the idea of brewing a cup of fennel tea, you can easily sneak it into just about any meat or pasta dish as a stomach-soothing spice.
3. Watermelon: Bloating can also be caused by water retention, which your body does when it’s in fear of dehydration. Ironically, the way to flush the excess water is by drinking more and eating water-filled foods. Watermelon is not only flush with the stuff (duh), it’s also a great source of potassium.
4. Peppermint: Peppermint is a great stomach soother, and studies have shown that peppermint oil can help fight cramping and gas. So next time you eat food that you know makes you gassy, try sipping on a cup of peppermint tea afterward.
5. Cucumber: Cucumbers are your belly’s best friend when it comes to bloating. These watery veggies contain quercetin, which is anti-inflammatory and may reduce the swell.
6. Papaya: Papayas are packed with an enzyme called papain, which has been shown to put a stop to tummy troubles. Papain can help break down proteins in your GI tract, making it easier to stomach food that’s tough to digest.