Bloating happens to everyone at some time or another.
Bloating is a common problem, but one that you have some ability to control by changing what you eat and drink.
Abdominal fullness or bloating often occurs when excess gas builds up in the digestive tract, causing discomfort and digestive distress. Certain foods are more notorious for creating gas.
FODMAPs commonly trigger bloating.
“One of the most common sources of bloating is a type of carbohydrate food known as FODMAPs,” says Matthew Black, a registered dietitian with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “This is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These types of carbohydrates can be harder to digest and, in certain individuals, create IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) symptoms including gas, bloating, cramping and diarrhea.”
Because FODMAPs and certain other foods can cause bloating, you may want to limit the following foods:
Cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk (and products made from these items) contain lactose, which is a FODMAP.
Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a gynecologist with special expertise in human nutrition based in Westchester County, New York, says that lactose intolerance can also contribute to uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms, and you should avoid or limit lactose to keep side effects manageable. “Some prefer to take Lactaid on demand, an enzyme available over the counter to combat the GI effects of dairy in those who are intolerant.”
Instead of reaching for dairy products, Black recommends opting for “lactose-free milk, almond milk and any products such as ice cream or yogurt made from these types of milk.”
Fruit, high fructose corn syrup, honey and agave syrup all contain fructose, a type of sugar. Black says the following are high in fructose, and they may contribute to bloating:
— Ripe bananas.
More commonly known as sugar alcohols, polyols are carbohydrates that occur naturally in certain fruits and vegetables or as additives in packaged foods.
Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates.
“Other food sources of polyols may contain more than one type of FODMAP, such as pears, apples, apricots, peaches, blackberries, cauliflower, mushrooms, celery and sweet potatoes,” Black notes.
“Wheat, rye and barley are common food sources containing fructans,” Black says. “Those who experience bloating when eating wheat products often conclude they’re sensitive to gluten, but could actually be sensitive to the fructans, which are also present in most gluten-containing foods.”
Additionally, some fruit sources contain multiple FODMAPs, Black says. Culprits include apples, apricots, peaches and blackberries. “Instead, choose fruits lower in FODMAP content, such as blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, oranges, strawberries, honeydew and pineapple, to name a few.”
Garlic and onion can also be problematic sources of fructans. Check for garlic and onion powders in the ingredients list if you’re sensitive, Black says.
Beans and lentils contain galactans, which can cause gas and bloating. “People following vegetarian or plant-based diets often turn toward beans, legumes and lentils as their primary source of dietary protein. Obviously, this will not bode well for those who are sensitive to these FODMAP sources,” Black says.
If you do eat beans or other foods that contain higher levels of galactans, Dweck recommends using the over-the-counter product Beano to help alleviate some of the gas and bloating that can result.
And Black recommends limiting legumes to 1/4 cup per day and using canned versions that have been drained and rinsed, as that can remove some of the excess FODMAP content. “Edamame should be limited to 1 cup daily, and lentils should also be canned, drained and rinsed with a limit of about 1/2 cup daily.”
Besides FODMAP foods, there are other foods that can cause bloating.
Black recommends reducing the amount of added sugars in your diet, “as these can also contribute to bloating, by altering the microbiome in your gut. Try aiming for a limit of 10 grams of added sugars per meal.”
Sodas and seltzers that contain carbonation can also add air to the gut, and Dweck notes that “artificial sweeteners in diet soda or even gum might cause bloating for some. Avoidance is best in these cases.”
Instead of reaching for another soda water or diet drink, plain tap water may be the way to go. You can add a twist of lime or lemon for a bit of additional flavor.
Certain high-fiber foods can contribute to bloating, but you should still make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet, as it’s an important key to maintaining good gut health.
“Fiber in tolerable quantities will help maintain regular bowel habits and minimize bloating. Fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good sources,” Dweck says.
Black adds that you should aim to consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily. “Whole grains are an excellent way to include fiber in your diet.”
Salty and highly processed foods
Dweck notes that some women experience bloating and other GI symptoms around the time they get their period in particular. “What I hear from my patients day-to-day is that bloating is an issue related to PMS since the salty foods that are so often craved during the premenstrual time can cause water retention and a feeling of abdominal and pelvic bloating.”
If that’s the case for you, pay close attention to your diet in the days leading up to menstruation. Instead, she recommends “avoiding highly salted or processed foods, drinking plenty of water and using Midol Bloat Relief for multi-symptom relief” during the days prior to your period.
Foods that cause bloating:
— Lactose Fructose.
— Polyols. Fructans.
— Added sugar.
— Carbonated beverages.
— High-fiber foods.
— Salty and highly processed foods.
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Update 01/10/22: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.