Written by: Mutshidzi Kwinda
If I had known any eating parade during my teenage years, I would have joined and possibly won without a doubt. Although I am a selective eater. I am a food lover and for a long time, food loved me back. It was not long though, that I had an unmerited swerve in my life, and I started to try new diets including vegetarian and pescatarian – which by the way, were a massive fail.
The switch in diets helped me examine my body and how it performs with certain foods. And one of the obvious discoveries I made was the way my stomach would tend to bloat when I ate fast as if I was in a competition and ate too much junk and unhealthy meals. Compared to when I ate smaller healthier meals and at a slower pace.
In addition to enjoying the benefits of a non-bloated stomach. I was able to focus more and better on my reading, writing and other activities that require an optimum level of alertness. Which is why I decided to write this article to enlighten you on reasons why we often become bloated and how to avoid it.
Bloating is defined by Mayo Clinic as “a build-up of gas in the stomach and intestines which usually occurs in response to certain foods we eat, lifestyles, and sometimes due to underlying medical conditions.”
Some of the common preventable causes of bloating include:
- Drinking carbonated drinks like sodas and beers
- Swallowing air from drinking through a straw or chewing gum
- Eating large meals and eating too fast
- Eating too many fatty foods
- Consuming certain foods that cause gas such as beans, lentils and some vegetables (such as broccoli and cabbage, wheat, etc.)
How to avoid bloating
It is important to know that people are different and what makes me bloated might be an okay food/drink for you. To avoid bloating, you need to first identify foods or drinks that cause you to bloat and eliminate them from your diet. Especially if the bloating is severe, painful and makes you toss at night. Start by paying close attention to your stomach after each meal and see how you feel. Take note of any discomfort and any foods you may have consumed.
Another way to prevent bloating is to exercise and stay active. This will help your body carry out the digestive functions with ease.
Substitute your fizzy carbonated drinks for water and fruit/vegetable juice. You can also add some tea now and then. Peppermint tea, and chamomile tea are also known to play a crucial role in facilitating the digestive process.
And last but not the least, eat small portions at a time. Chew your food, and allow your food to go down without unnecessary peristaltic pressure. Unless you are sharing a plate with your siblings like I used to, slow down. It is your food, and it is not going to run away.
As I have mentioned above, sometimes bloating may be due to underlying medical conditions. These may include inflammatory bowel disease, celiac infection, constipation (as a side effect of medications), lactose intolerance, and cancer. For such situations, medical interventions are critical. Let your doctor know and they will be able to give you the professional help you need.