We’ve all been there. A few cheeky wines on a Saturday night, then chips on the way home. Toast when you wake up starving on the Sunday, followed by crisps and dip and lasagne and more chips.
All of a sudden, you’re comatose on the sofa with a ginormous carb-baby and a belly that’s swollen to three times its regular size. Your dad asks when you’re due. You can’t find the remote but you also can’t roll over. Have you hit rock bottom? Yes, quite possibly, you have.
Committing carbicide is not cool. But it happens. So how do we deal with it? Here’s how to beat bloating, and what type of carbs to eat if you find your belly ballooning on the reg.
What is bloating? What causes it?
If you’re reading this, we’re guessing you don’t need us to tell you what bloating is.
For the lucky ones who don’t suffer from the dreaded bloat (we’re looking at you Megan from Bridesmaids) it’s basically where your belly swells up after eating.
It’s super common – apparently up to 30% of people say they get bloated regularly. Sounds about right. So what causes it?
Most often, bloating is caused by digestive issues or gas. That’s right, flatulence. Farts. Trumps, pumps, love puffs. Whatever you wanna call ‘em. You’re probably bloated because you’re full of farty-air, just waiting to escape.
This can cause increased pressure in your gut and lots of discomfort. It’s basically the food-baby feeling of ‘too-stuffed-to-move’. That lasts too long. And makes your jeans too tight.
That button isn’t getting done up anytime soon, that’s for sure.
It’s not the same thing as water-retention, but sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably. Occasionally, bloating can be caused by a food intolerance or medical condition, but more often than not it’s down to something you’re eating.
Looking to beat the bloat? Here’s how:
1. Don’t stuff your face!
When something tastes good, it can be hard to stop. But eating too much in one sitting OR eating too quickly can lead to that ‘stuffed’ feeling. But that’s not actually bloating – the problem here is that you just overdid it.
If you’re eating fairly big dinners and then feeling discomfort, try smaller portions. Eat slower, and you won’t feel deprived either.
Banish that bloated belly: Different people are more prone to bloating. Those who experience it a lot are much more sensitive to the food in their stomachs. For you guys, eating smaller meals can make a huge difference – and as you feel it more, you’ll probably still be satisfied.
2. Try not to swallow air
This sounds silly. But it’s true.
Basically, there are two reasons we produce gas (prrrp!) in the gut. One is the bacteria that breaks food down, which is totally unavoidable. It’ll always be there. The other? The air that we swallow when eating or drinking.
The answer is simple - and it’s all about improving your chewing technique. This is double-bubble beneficial – it reduces the amount of air you swallow and makes you eat slower, which means you’ll eat less! Win-win!
Check that chew: Avoid drinking from a straw, chewing gum, talking whilst eating or eating too quickly. All of these things lead to more swallowed air – as do fizzy drinks.
These are by far the worst offenders, so put down that lemonade and swap it for water. Boring choice? Infuse with your favourite fruits. Yum!
3. Rule out any food allergies
Food allergies and intolerances are relatively common. When you eat something that you’re intolerant to, your body is (quite rightly) not going to be very happy about it – and bloating could be a sign that it’s telling you to stop.
We’ve listed some common food groups that people find they’re allergic to. These include:
- Lactose: Lactose is the main carbohydrate in milk – and it’s associated with loads of digestive symptoms, including bloating.
- Eggs: Eggs are renowned for causing tummy troubles – bloating included.
- Wheat and Gluten: Many people are allergic to wheat or gluten. Gluten is a protein in wheat, spelt, barley and some other grains. Gluten intolerance is known as coeliac disease and can lead to various nasty effects on digestion, including bloating.
You can try avoiding these foods to see if it helps – or keep a food diary and note down when your belly blows up. If you strongly suspect you have an allergy, it’s best to see your doctor – they’ll be able to help and offer advice on how to combat an intolerance.
Back away from the biscuits…But hooray, you can still eat carbs!
Alas, but it’s best to put down all those carb-laden naughty treats. Lose all refined white pasta and bread, bagels, sugar-loaded cereal and crisps from your shopping basket, and you should soon feel less bloated.
So what can you munch on instead?
Opt for carbs that are low in wheat or, even-better, try a gluten-free diet for a few weeks. If your body is having problems processing gluten, you’ll soon see a difference.
What to eat: There are loads of gluten-free alternatives to wheat, including pure oats, quinoa, buckwheat, almond flour and coconut flour. Love baking? Try creating your own batch of baked goods using gluten-free ingredients. Even better taste-wise and you’ll banish the bloat.
Final (food for) thought
Carbohydrates give us energy, which is why our bodies crave them quite unlike any other.
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is a healthy way to help meet your carbohydrate needs without consuming wheat or gluten. Go for starchy veggies like squash and sweet potato or choose fruit for a snack. Getting your five-a-day is definitely a great way to beat the bloat… You can fruit your way to a flat tummy, for sure!
Committing carbicide isn’t a cardinal sin.
Ok, so gluttony, greed and sloth are, but you can repent. Next time you’re feeling bloated (and by bloated, we mean doing your best beached-whale impression on the sofa) get up and go for a walk. Light exercise will help to get everything moving, and you’ll soon feel flatter and more fit to boot!
If you need a little exercise-inspo, check out our social pages. We’re always posting fun (and quick!) workouts on Facebook and Twitter, as well as health hacks and tasty recipes. Got something you wanna share? We’d love to see it!