It really isn’t nice to feel bloated and full and your hormones may be the reason, or it could be be down to your diet or a potential health issue so have a look at what might be causing you to ‘blow up’.
Many women recognise this just before their period, but it doesn’t necessarily go away as you enter peri/menopause.
A bigger belly is a feature of this time of life and may be related to excess oestrogen being laid down in the fat cells of the abdomen, stomach and thighs so help yourself by checking you have sufficient progesterone to oppose it.
Blown up with air?
This is a common belief, but it is not so much the amount of air as the fact you may be more sensitive to it than others are.
It is more likely to be related to a health condition such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), acid reflux and surprisingly enough also to haemorrhoids so check with your doctor.
Forget the fizz
Related to this are carbonated drinks such as colas and anything that bubbles such as water, beer, champagne, and prosecco as those are all filled with gas.
Drinking them fills up your digestive system, and that’s why they can make you burp, but once the gas reaches your intestines, it stays until you pass it.
Also most carbonated drinks are full of sugar, which can make you hold on to water and feel bloated.
Salt is necessary, but as it makes you hold on to water you need it only in moderation as too much may lead to increased blood pressure as well as bloating.
It is present inmost processed food keep an eye on how much you are having.
These provide fast acting fuel for your body but if you have too many at once then that can also make you retain water.
Simple carbohydrates such as white bread, sweets and cake get into your bloodstream almost instantly so water retention is more likely.
Stick to complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruit and vegetables as they take longer to digest and so less likely to make you bloat.
There is also another group of carbohydrates called FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-saccharides Di-saccharides Mono-saccharides and Polyols) and these are digested near the end of your intestine, where bacteria feed on them.
For some people, this can cause gas and fluid buildup, stomach pain, and bloating. They are found in some fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy. Asparagus, garlic, pears, mangoes, peaches, wheat pasta, and rye bread are examples and onion and garlic are particularly bad trigger.
If you think this may be a factor for you then keep a food diary to keep track of foods that affect you, and ask a dietitian for help.
Foods like milk and ice cream can cause gas, stomach ache and bloating if your body can’t easily digest a dairy sugar called lactose. This is one of the most common allergens in the UK, so it’s a good idea to avoid milk products if you notice any of those symptoms after eating or drinking dairy products.
This is not the same as an actual allergy to dairy, where your body’s immune system treats it like a dangerous invader and results in more serious symptoms such as vomiting, and bloody stools.
This is a kind of sugar, and it’s harder for your body to break down than other kinds. That can lead to gas, bloating, and pain.
It’s in lots of foods in the form of “high fructose corn syrup,” and it happens naturally in some like fruit (especially dried fruit) as well as honey, onions, and garlic.
This is an essential element in a healthy diet as your body needs it to make cell walls, nerve tissue (like your brain), and your hormones.
In excess it can make you bloated because your body takes longer to break it down than other types of food so it stays in your system longer.
Too much food
Tempting though it may be to just keep eating, your stomach is only about the size of your fist. It can stretch, but that can make you feel bloated, especially if you eat lots of salty food and carbohydrates.
Keep servings small and it can take 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain you’re full so try to stop before then, not after.
Eating too quickly
This is another trigger as the faster you eat, the more air you swallow and once that air passes to your intestine, it can make you feel bloated.
This type of eating is often a habit from childhood, or having rushed meals or snacks, so slow down and chew each mouthful thoroughly.
Most people are a little irregular from time to time, and that can make you feel bloated. Some foods can cause it, along with not drinking enough water, sudden changes in your diet, or stress.
It usually passes on its own and eating grated raw carrot and beetroot is an effective naturopathic remedy, but see your doctor if it lasts more than a few days.
This is when your body responds badly to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and many prepackaged foods. The body then attacks the lining of your intestine and this can cause diarrhea, weight loss, pain in the belly area, and lots of gas, which can make you feel bloated.
If you feel this may be you then test the theory by cutting out foods with gluten to see if your symptoms improve as there is no treatment other than managing diet for this.
It is really not fair, but if you’ve gained 10 or more pounds in the past year, you may feel bloated because that weight often goes on around your belly.
That takes up space and leaves less room for your stomach to stretch so check the reasons for the weight gain whether hormonal, lack of exercise of your diet to start tackling it.
Once you can isolate what is causing your bloating, whether hormonal, dietary or related to conditions such as stress or IBS, then you can start designing a plan to minimise their impact.