“No, I’m not pregnant. I’m just bloated.” Has this ever happened to you?
If you have IBS or experience bloating, you may relate to the awkwardness of having a distended, uncomfortable stomach on show for the world to see.
Worse yet, bloating usually strikes when we really don’t want it. Often it’s during social occasions where we can’t control our normal food intake and our belly’s fluttering with nervous excitement.
Thankfully, there’s really no need to trade in your favorite LBD for a muumuu next time you head out! Check out these 10 handy tricks to keep bloating in check.
This wonderful herb is naturally anti-spasmodic and can settle the stomach cramping that usually precedes bloating. Take it as a tea or in food-grade capsule form; even a little pure essential oil mixed in a carrier lotion can effectively drop tummy bloat.
2. CHARCOAL CAPSULES
Carry a little tub discreetly in your handbag for a natural, emergency remedy once you feel the bloating build. Charcoal effectively captures the gas and can also help with embarrassing flatulence. Just be careful not to use with certain medications (it can block absorption) or rely on charcoal for long-term use. It will also make your poop turn temporarily black!
3. KNEEL A WHILE
According to ancient Chinese acupuncture, we have powerful energy meridian lines which run along our shins and support digestion. If your knees and hips are okay, try kneeling with your shins folded under you for a while. The ground will naturally apply pressure to these digestive acupuncture points.
4. RUB YOUR BELLY CLOCKWISE
All day long, our digestive tract is making smooth, muscular movements called ‘peristalsis’. This propels food along our gut for digestion and ultimately, expulsion! You can, therefore, speed up the movement of gas through your gut by massaging your tummy in the same direction as peristalsis. Simply look down at your belly and use the flat of your hand to massage your belly in large, smooth, clockwise circles.
5. IF YOU CAN, EXERCISE GENTLY
Just like the trick above can support peristalsis, so does gentle exercise. Moving your abdomen and heightening your breath rate gently massages your internal organs and moves gas along. A kind word of warning - don’t engage in anything too extreme, as higher intensity exercise will temporarily divert energy away from digestion. Aim for something more gentle like walking or yoga.
Juice it, chew it or drink it in a tea! Ginger is a powerful digestive aid and can provide relief from a wide range of gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, vomiting and bloating. You can carry powdered ginger capsules or crystallized ginger in your handbag as an on-the-go solution.
This herbal remedy is now even recognized by mainstream science for its efficacy in treating IBS! Comprised of nine medicinal herbal extracts, Iberogast can provide quick relief from bloating and other uncomfortable digestive complaints.
8. LIMIT FERMENTABLE SUGARS
If you are prone to bloating, it may be helpful to temporarily reduce your intake of foods that are naturally high in fermentable sugars. Whilst this fermentation process is good for the gut under normal circumstances, it can produce excessive bloating if we are nervous, excited, out of our normal dietary routine or leaving longer periods of time between eating. You could experiment with limiting dried fruit, stone fruit, apples, garlic, onion, legumes and wheat before a big event and see if that makes a difference!
9. SKIP FATTY MEALS
Have you ever wondered why fatty meals make us feel so full? One reason is that fat sends delicious, “feel-good” and satiating messages to our brain after we eat it. Another reason is that fat delays gastric emptying or in other words, it slows down the speed at which food can leave the stomach and enter the small digestion. In fact, the stomach can take up to six hours to empty after a fatty meal! This plays havoc with digestion, so best to skip deep-fried or fatty offerings if you’re wanting to beat the bloat!
Ultimately, you can thank the friendly little bugs in our gut for gas. These guys are little gas-pumping, fart-producing factories! All the fermentable sugars and dietary fibre that our bodies can’t digest form a buffet for the flora in our gut, and as these bacteria munch away they produce gas as a by-product. This in and of itself is a normal, healthy process that supports gut health. It’s just embarrassing or downright uncomfortable when excessive!
Many people find relief from bloating by restoring more ‘good’ bacteria to their gut with a good quality probiotic. However, a small minority find that probiotics actually make their gas worse - it all depends on your unique gut flora to start with. Therefore, this tip is probably best trialled before you head out for a hot date!