Bloating Causes and Cures

Answered by Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

Q: I have quite thin arms and legs and am not a big eater. However, I feel constantly bloated and have a bloated stomach. I’m enjoying using WLR but don’t feel it’s helping with the bloating. What do you recommend?

A: There could be many reasons why you feel bloated and so it’s difficult to give you specific advice. I’d start by making sure that you’re not frequently constipated as this is one of the most common causes of bloating and discomfort. If constipation is a problem, gradually increase the amount of fibre-rich foods you eat such as fruit, veg, wholegrain cereals and bread, wholewheat pasta, brown rice and beans. These high-fibre foods also have the added benefit of preventing hunger from kicking in, which is important if you want to lose weight. And always drink up to eight glasses of water a day, as a lack of fluid can make constipation worse, especially if you’re eating lots of fibre. You’ll find more about constipation and how to prevent it by clicking on: Related Question

Some foods are also known to cause bloating so you might want to eat fewer of these. Typical culprits include beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, sprouts, onions and garlic – however, remember these are good sources of fibre and you should eat five portions of fruit and veg a day.

Swallowing too much air can also give you a bloated tummy and surprisingly, there are several habits that can result in this. Simple things such as talking while eating, using a straw or sports bottle, chewing gum, eating when you’re on the move, drinking from a water fountain and eating when you’re upset are all common culprits so try and eliminate as many of these things as possible.

You may also find it helpful to cut out fizzy drinks, including sparkling water. Many slimmers fill up on these types of drinks, but the gas they contain simply ends up in your stomach. It’s also worthwhile avoiding too many ‘diet’, ‘sugar-free’ or ‘low-carb’ products that contain sorbitol, mannitol or maltitol. These sweeteners, which are used in place of sugar, have a laxative effect which can leave you feeling uncomfortable and full of wind.

Some people blame bloating on an intolerance to a certain food such as wheat or dairy products. However, food intolerances are notoriously difficult to diagnose as the symptoms can be so wide ranging, including everything from bloating, fluid retention, headaches and tiredness to constipation and diarrhoea. If you really think you might have an intolerance I suggest you keep a food and symptoms diary to see if there’s any pattern and then see your GP for a proper diagnosis.

Irritable bowel syndrome is also often associated with bloating. Generally a healthy diet will help you lose weight and keep the symptoms of IBS at bay. But again, if you think this is a problem, you should see your GP.

Finally you could try drinking chamomile or peppermint tea. It might not be your usual cuppa but drinks like these are good for the digestive system and can help to ease that bloaty feeling.

If all this advice fails to stop you feeling bloated I suggest you see you GP to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

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