Occasional bloating is completely normal, especially if you've just eaten a big meal. Although it's normally harmless, for some people it can be unpleasant, uncomfortable or embarrassing. It's also fairly common, with around 60% of women in a large study reporting they experience bloating, and around a quarter of these indicating that bloating impacts their quality of life.
Bloating is a usually just a build-up of gas produced when your gut bacteria ferment undigested carbohydrates (such as fibre), which basically just means that they're doing their job. Other factors can however, contribute to or worsen bloating, including stress, anxiety, tight waistbands, swallowing excess air from chewing gum or eating rapidly, or consuming carbonated drinks.
If you experience bloating which is accompanied by pain or other gut symptoms (such as diarrhoea or constipation), or if it impacts your quality of life, it's important to see your doctor to rule out any underlying causes such as coeliac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, or food intolerances. You should not self-diagnose or start eliminating foods from your diet without proper guidance, this is important both because some tests, such as that for coeliac disease, need to be taken while you still have the trigger food in your diet, but also to avoid negative consequences such as dietary deficiencies.
If you do experience occasional bloating, these tips may help:
🍽 Eat mindfully: chew your food slowly and thoroughly, eat smaller portions, and eat until you just feel full
🧅 If high fibre foods are new for you, introduce these slowly and increase amounts gradually, or eat in smaller portions if they trigger your bloating
🧘🏽♀️ Include regular physical activity and calming activities each day (eg. yoga, deep breathing, meditation) to help reduce stress
🛌 Get enough good quality sleep
☕️ Limit caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks (eg. soft drinks, beer)
🍬 Sugar alcohols (a type of sweetener) can cause bloating in many people. These are often found in chewing gum, sweets, and some soft drinks.
For more tips, check out my reel on bloating: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CckKRHvq3X0/