It is rare that I meet with friends or clients who say that they never feel bloated after eating. In fact, feeling bloated is probably the number one reason people are confused as to what they should be eating. Not everyone reacts the same way after a meal. The question to ask is what is the body expressing when the stomach is bloated and why does this happen.
The number one cause of a bloated belly is poor digestion. Digestion is a big job for our bodies because large structures such as protein, fats and complex carbohydrates need to be broken down into smaller elements in order for our cells to absorb them. Protein must be broken down into amino acids, complex carbs into simple sugars and fats to fatty acids. It all sounds simple, but most of the time, digestion, our first pillar of health is compromised.
Why is digestion so difficult? Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth. If we chew our food too quickly, we will not produce enough enzymes to help with the breakdown of the complex sugars to simple sugars. We must chew slowly and never eat when in a hurry or stressed. It is also very important to separate our proteins from the carbohydrates because protein takes longer to digest. The sugars from the complex carbs will ferment in our gut (which is hot and humid) if they have to sit and wait around too long. This fermentation will cause the bloating feeling and look of a swollen abdomen. Try to eat your protein and starches at different times. If you are having a chicken dinner, combine it with cooked vegetables and salad instead of potatoes or rice. These starches have too much sugar and do not mix well with protein. Protein is a very large structure to digest, especially animal protein, and requires healthy stomach cells that can produce good quality HCL (hydrochloric acid), pepsin and gastric juices to help this break down. People that eat too much processed foods and not enough fruits and vegetables will have a compromised digestive system for sure.
There are several foods that can help with bloating. Consuming a plant-based diet filled with raw fruits and vegetables daily is crucial for optimal digestion. All the fiber from raw food helps to move the waste along, keeping our bowels healthy with less time for fermentation. Starting your day with fruit as opposed to a big protein breakfast is the way to go. You will feel light and full of real energy. This is because fruit is a simple sugar and does not need to be broken down. The body has no work to do! Salads with a large variety of vegetables are a good choice for lunch or supper.
Drinking water with your meals can also be the culprit for a bloated tummy. This is because when you drink while you eat, you dilute your enzymes. Be safe and drink your water before and after your meals. Aim to drink at least 3 liters a day to avoid constipation and cellular dehydration. Chewing gum can also cause the bloating feeling as it tends to dilute enzymes as well.
If you do suffer with bloat fairly often, try eating apples, melons, fermented foods such as kimchi, and black or ginger tea. These are wonderful digestive aids. Most importantly, be mindful and take your time. Do not eat on the fly, sit calmly and enjoy your meal.