How to Prevent Bloating

Three Parts:Eating the Right FoodsEating the Right WayHaving No-Bloat Habits

Any sufferer of bloating knows that a swollen tummy is just one of many symptoms associated with this most unfair of afflictions, some of which can cause real discomfort. Slipping into those skinny jeans is bad enough as it is -- no need to add bloating into the mix. Luckily, with diet and a few tricks up your sleeve, it can easily be avoided.

Part 1
Eating the Right Foods

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    Limit the fatty, processed junk. Apart from it just being bad for you overall, processed food is generally high in all the crap that your stomach doesn't know how to, well, process. High-fat, high-sugar foods take longer for your stomach to digest and thus your stomach is fuller for a longer period of time.[1] And the food from your entire meal builds up in the same place at the same time! No thank you.
    • Sugar-free foods and frozen foods aren't good, either. Frozen foods are high in preservatives and often in sodium (salt), which is an express ticket to Bloatville. And sugar-free foods aren't a good alternative because the sugar alcohol gets going super fast in your stomach and the bacteria in your intestines goes on overdrive, producing more gas. That gas is the bloating culprit (it's rarely water).
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    Pack that fiber. Fiber keeps you regular, like grandma might say. If you're constipated, that gut of yours will not fit into those skinny jeans any easier, that's for sure. So load up on that fiber, hydrate yourself, and poo on the regular.
    • The best fruits for fiber? Raspberries, pears, and apples. Veggies? Artichokes, peas, and broccoli. Grains? Whole wheat spaghetti, barley, and bran. Then there's beans, lentils, and split peas which school that whole list by packing twice as fiber as any of those fruits, veggies, or grains.[2] But they're all good!
    • If you are not constipated, extra fiber can actually make your bloating worse. If you have regular bowel movements, look at temporarily avoiding high-fiber foods, especially if you have episodes of bloating accompanied by large amounts of gas.[3]
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    Go slow on the gassy foods. Yep, gassy foods. That's another way of saying take it easy on the cruciferous vegetable family (see why we called 'em gassy foods?) until your body gets used to them. They're super good for you -- so don't rule 'em out; just ease into it.
    • Those gassy foods are beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, bok choy and cauliflower.[4][5] That being said, ALL of these foods are SUPER (sooo-ooooh-oooper!) good for you. So start getting used to them now. You can up your intake later. Your body will thank you for it eventually.
    • Eat fewer carbohydrates. When muscles store glycogen, a certain type of carbohydrate, they also store water in a ratio of one to three, glycogen to water. Cutting foods with high levels of carbohydrates, like bagels and pasta, reduces the amount of excess water stored in the body.
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    Cook your vegetables before eating them. Cooked vegetables are often easier to digest than raw vegetables.
    • The cooking process removes some of the fiber and enzymes that can cause stomach upset and bloating.
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    • Try steaming your vegetables. Steaming minimizes the amount of lost water-soluble nutrients that leech off into the water when you boil your vegetables.
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    Choose beverages carefully. Water is always your best bet. If that's boring, go for the flavored kinds or infuse your own water with fruit (yum). But tea is good, too; not only does it suppress your appetite, but it also can work as an anti-bloating agent.[4]
    • You know that fizz in soda, pop, or whatever it is you call it? That doesn't go away in your stomach! Those bubbles stay in there and keep on bubbling -- which obviously adds to the gas in your intestines. So apart from them being just empty calories (even the diet ones aren't good for you), they cause you to bloat, too. Need more reasons?
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    • Drinks that are acidic in nature irritate the GI tract. As a result, the tract swells, causing you to feel bloated. Acidic drinks include coffee, tea, juice, and alcohol.
    • You should also avoid drinks made from sugar substitutes. Sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol are sugar alcohols that actually bring on bloat.
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    Limit your salt intake. This is one you've probably heard before: salt leads to bloating. And the reason is because the more salt in your body, the more it desperately clings onto water. Turns out just a teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium and your body only needs 200 a day.[6] Dang. Talk about perspective!
    • Too much sodium in your diet can be hard on your heart and blood vessels (as if you needed more reasons). It all sounds pretty dangerous if we're getting 10x the amount we need in just one teaspoon, but the good news is that most of it comes from the salt we add to meals. So if you cook the majority of your food and don't use much salt, you should be good to go!
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    Avoid hot spices. Black pepper and chili powder stimulate the release of stomach acid. Other hot ingredients, like hot sauces and vinegar, do the same. When the stomach releases acid, it causes irritation, which can worsen bloating.
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    Try anti-bloating foods. Though there's no "anti-bloating" label you can really put on natural foods, there are a few studies that suggest there are foods out there that are good for keeping excess water and gas out of your system. Peppermint tea, ginger, pineapple, parsley, and yogurts are all on this list.[4]
    • Bananas, cantaloupe, mangoes, spinach, tomatoes, nuts, and asparagus are high in potassium -- a mineral that's high in asparagine -- a natural diuretic.[7] Those can beat the bloat, too!
    • Introduce peppermint or parsley into your diet. While most herbs are okay for the stomach, these two can be especially helpful in treating bloating. Parsley is a diuretic, so it helps to flush out the digestive system. Peppermint improves bile flow, allowing fats to be digested more easily.[8]
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    • Search out potassium.[9] Potassium regulates fluids in the body by balancing out sodium levels. High-potassium foods include bananas, potatoes, cantaloupe, mangoes, spinach, tomatoes, nuts, and asparagus.
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    Take advantage or probiotics. Probiotics are a type of "good bacteria" that is commonly used to regulate the digestive system. When the digestive tract is regulated, incidents of bloating are greatly reduced.
    • Bacterial imbalance in your intestines can cause bloating, which is why restoring that balance with probiotics may rid you of your symptoms.
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    • Yogurt is the most common source of probiotics, but you can also take probiotics in the form of health supplements.
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Part 2
Eating the Right Way

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    Take your time. With the busy lifestyles that many of us lead it is very easy to get into bad habits that may cause us to rush meals. When you eat quickly you may unwittingly swallow air along with your food, which then gets trapped and causes bloating. Sounds a little silly, but that's actually how it works!
    • Try chewing your food 30 times before swallowing; you may not wish to stick with this discipline but it is a great way to become more conscious of the way that you eat and to adjust it accordingly. And to see if it affects the bloat!
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    Eat little and often. Eating smaller portions is kinder to your tummy -- and your waistline -- so try having 4-5 small meals a day rather than 3 large ones. It keeps your metabolism ticking over nicely and prevents the kind of hunger that can lead to large portions. In addition, to keeping everything running smoothly in there.
    • Ever felt terrible after Thanksgiving? Yeah. That. That feeling needs to go and never come back. Eating little and often keeps you going and energized and prevents you from having to loosen your belt afterward. Eating is supposed to make you feel good, not exhausted!
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    Avoid large meals late at night. Especially carbs. When you load up late at night, you just wake up feeling all puffy-like in the morning. You spend the night retaining water and wake up feeling like a sponge. So if one of your meals is big, make it lunch. Then you have time to work it off!
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    Don't use a straw! Or do anything that ups your air intake needlessly. That means talking while eating, too. The more gulps of air you take in with that food or drink, the more that has to get processed in your body.[7] It has to get rid of it somehow, so it turns into bloating and gas.

Part 3
Having No-Bloat Habits

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    Tackle your monthly bloat. Aunt Flo is the worst. It's bad enough as it is, and then you have to add bloating on top of the mix. But period bloating isn't that different -- it's still a good idea to limit your salt intake, workout, and eat the foods we've talked about. Just take solace in that it'll be over in a few days!
    • If you'd like to go the extra mile, calcium and magnesium can help. Take a supplement when you feel the bloat coming on. And what else can help? Midol.[7]
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    Be aware of how you chew gum. If you're smacking it and popping it, it's just as bad as using a straw or talking while eating -- you're ingesting extra air that has to go somewhere and just winds up resting in your gut for a while. So if you have to chew that gum, keep your mouth shut!
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    Think about possible food allergies. Plenty of people have wheat (specifically gluten) or dairy allergies (lactose intolerance) and don't realize that's why they're bloating. On the other hand, plenty of people self-diagnose and self-diagnose incorrectly, resulting in them missing out healthy aspects of a balanced diet. So if anything seems amiss, in short? Visit your doctor.
    • There are dairy products that are lower in lactose, if this applies to you (or if you'd like to run a few personal experiments). Aged cheeses and yogurts are lower in the stuff -- how might that affect your diet? And if you eat these in combination with other things, the results could be different, too.[4]
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    Avoid stress. Stress can cause so many problems and bloating is just one of them. This is due to the hormone cortisol which leaps into action when we are stressed causing a number of effects - one being cravings for fats and sugars. One of the best ways to control the level of cortisol in the bloodstream is just a few minutes of physical exercise every day. Though you know you better than anyone. What calms you down?
    • If you haven't already tried it, consider meditation or yoga. Both have shown to lower cortisol levels and yoga burns calories to boot! Even just 15 minutes of quality "you-time" every day can prove beneficial for your body and mind.
    • Simple breathing exercises can go a long way in reducing stress. Sit in a quiet space and breathe deeply and mindfully for 10 counts.[10]
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    • Therapy can be used if you have severe issues with anxiety or depression.
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    Quit smoking. When it comes to bloating, you should quit smoking to avoid all that air getting into your system. But when it comes to your overall health, you should quit smoking because it's terrible for you. It can be the cause of breathing problems, lung cancer, atherosclerosis, and heart disease, just to name a few.[11] It's expensive and it's terrible for those around you, too. Need more reasons?
    • It's never too late. Your body starts repairing itself as soon as you stop smoking. Your lungs will show improvements in weeks.[12] So give it a try for you, your budget, and those around you.
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    Exercise regularly. Moderate exercise can help regulate the passage of food and air through the digestive trap, reducing future bloating incidents.
    • Biking for 30 minutes, three times a week or more, might be enough to considerably reduce the frequency of bloating incidents.
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    • Other examples of moderate exercise include walking two miles in 30 minutes, jumping rope for 15 minutes, dancing for 30 minutes, practicing water aerobics for 30 minutes, swimming laps for 20 minutes, and running 1 mile (1.6 km) in 10 minutes.
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    Consider the possibility of food allergies.[13] Oftentimes, mild food allergies and intolerances are the cause of bloating.
    • Possible allergens include dairy, peanuts, nuts, gluten, wheat, legumes, soy, eggs, and corn.
    • Monitor when your bloating occurs. If it happens shortly after consuming a certain type of food, bring it to the attention of your doctor. Your physician will be able to test you further and perform a more accurate diagnosis.


  • Pineapple can help with bloating, too.[14] Just skip the can and go for the fruit!

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