How To Manage a Bloated Stomach After Eating

After a wonderfully delicious meal, you’re ready to relax then go on with the rest of your day being productive. But sometimes, after a meal you realise your pants become tighter and your stomach grows two sizes too big. This is a result of bloating. Sometimes bloating happens because of underlying health issues, while at other times, it’s due to your choice of diet.

 

What is a bloated stomach?

A bloated stomach is the feeling of tightness, pressure, or fullness in your stomach. Sometimes, a bloated stomach may be accompanied by a visibly extended stomach. A bloated stomach can lead to feelings of mild discomfort to intense pain. For some people bloating goes away after a while, while it can be a recurring problem for other people. If your bloated stomach doesn’t go away after a while, you might need to seek professional help.

 

Why is my stomach bloated?

A bloated stomach is often a result of excessive build-up of intestinal gas which can be quite uncomfortable, sometimes even severely painful. This gas is generated by bacteria in the intestinal tract from the food you’ve consumed that hasn’t been absorbed or properly digested. Sometimes bloating results from underlying health issues and can be fixed using a change in the diet.

There are so many causes of stomach bloating after eating some of which include;

Eating too fast

When eating or drinking, we naturally swallow gas. When you eat too fast, it leads to swallowing lots of gas which can lead to a build-up of gas in your gastrointestinal tract resulting in a bloated stomach after eating.

Gas

The intestines naturally produce gas when digesting food. But when you have too much gas in your belly it means that digestion has gone awry. Even though you can ingest gas through drinking carbonated drinks, this type of gas normally leaves the body even before reaching the digestive tract through belching. Most of the time bacteria in your stomach produce gas when it ferments food. Too much fermentation in the stomach means that you ate too many carbohydrates too fast, have an intolerance to certain foods, or have gastrointestinal disease.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Even though not all people suffer from IBS bloat, it is still a common symptom of the disease.
  • Food intolerance: If your stomach feels bloated regularly after eating, it might be due to food intolerance. Food intolerance causes bloating by too much production of gas being produced in the reaction of food, bowel not emptying properly, or food causing gas to be trapped in your stomach.

 

Hormones

3 in 4 women experience bloating alongside or before their menstrual cycle. Oestrogen results in water retention leading to bloating. Also, just before menstruation, the size of the uterus increases and this, in turn, leads to a bloated stomach. The hormones oestrogen and progesterone tend to affect gas in your gastrointestinal tract leading to periods of bloating when they aren’t balanced.

 

Excessive fibre

Fibre is important in regulating blood sugar and sugar consumption. It is available in plant-based foods and can’t be absorbed into the body. When you consume too much fibre and your stomach isn’t used to it, it tends to lead to bloating. Some of the foods that are high in fibre include; lentils, beans, fruits, whole grain oats, Brussel sprouts, split peas, and broccoli.

 

High-fat foods

Fat is an essential part of any diet as it is a good source of energy. Naturally, the body takes a lot of time to digest fats and this can lead to bloating in some people. For those who experience bloating due to high-fat foods, a diet with fewer fats will help solve this problem.

 

How to get rid of bloated stomach

A bloated stomach after eating can make you feel sick and tired. To relieve stomach bloating in the long-term depends on the cause of your bloating. But if you are looking for a remedy for a bloated stomach, here are some:

 

Exercise

If your stomach feels bloated after eating, you can take a quick walk or do any light exercises like stretching. Light exercise helps relieve gas trapped in the intestines. Also, if you work out regularly, incorporate core strengthening exercises and they will help alleviate abdominal bloating.

 

Treating heartburn

Heartburn causes a burning sensation that’s uncomfortable caused by acid from the stomach travelling back up the throat. Most of the time heartburns result in bloating, treating it can help rid bloating.

 

Ginger

Ginger root contains carminative which is great in reducing excess gas in the gastrointestinal tract. You can consume ginger as a remedy for bloating.

 

Herbal tea

Drinking peppermint, ginger, turmeric, and fennel tea can help improve digestion and help process gas. If you have water retention that’s leading to bloating, dandelion tea can help alleviate that.

 

Magnesium

Magnesium supplements help relax the intestinal muscles and neutralize stomach acid. It also naturally has a laxative effect on your stomach which can help relieve bloating. Due to its laxative effect, you shouldn’t use it too frequently.

 

Peppermint oil

You can take capsules containing peppermint oil. This oil is naturally antispasmodic {1}. Naturally, this oil helps you pass gas and poop trapped in your gut.

 

Probiotics

They help rebalance your gut bacteria {2}. Some help absorb gasses in your stomach, while others are helpful in rebalancing your gut bacteria. To notice the difference, you will have to take them for a few weeks or days.

 

Fibre supplements

There are lots of fibre supplements in the market that can help you poop more regularly. Always ensure you introduce fibre supplements slowly and drink lots of water.

If you frequently experience bloating, it might be wise to consult your GP. But if it keeps on going, consider your diet as it might be the issue.

 

Diet for bloated stomach

If you suffer from a bloated painful stomach after eating, it is best to check your diet since that’s where it all begins. Some people experience bloating because of consuming too much fibre while others experience bloating due to too little fibre. Once you know what’s really causing bloating after eating, you can incorporate these foods;

  • Fruits like pineapple, kiwi, apple, papaya, bananas, berries, and avocados contain lots of fibre which helps get things moving in the intestines.
  • Vegetables like fennel, cucumber, celery, asparagus, and rhubarb contain lots of fibre and other nutrients that help clear your tummy.
  • Herbal teas like green tea, and peppermint are natural laxatives helping speed up things in your intestines.
  • Beverages like yoghurt and kombucha contain probiotics that help in gut health.

 

What you should know about FODMAPs foods

FODMAPS (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) are a group of foods that the body absorbs poorly and mostly causes issues such as bloating and diarrhoea. There are foods that are high up in this FODMAPs group like onions and garlic which interfere with your gut causing lots of bloating and other irritable bowel disease symptoms. Consuming a low-FODMAP diet can help reduce IBS symptoms like bloating {3}. Other FODMAPs include;

  • Foods high in fructose (fruit sugar)
  • Cabbage
  • Foods high in fructans (like wheat and vegetables)
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Foods high in lactose (milk sugar)
  • Foods containing alcohols (like artificial sweeteners and some fruits)
  • Foods based on galactans (legumes like beans and peas)

Knowing what foods cause your bloating can be a great way to start your healing journey. You also need to heed that food intolerance can also result in bloating and knowing which food you’re intolerant to can help solve that issue.

 

Can a food intolerance test help with a bloated stomach?

Yes, it can. Knowing which foods cause intolerance can help you eliminate them from your diet, then maybe add them back slowly into your diet later on with the help of your doctor. You can easily get an intolerance delivered to your doorstep if you feel as if that’s the main cause of a bloated stomach. Test Your Intolerance will compare your sample against many other common food intolerances and will come up with a list of foods that could be causing you to have a bloated stomach and cramps. Eliminating foods that result in a bloated stomach can leave you feeling better and living a little happier than before.

 

About the Author

Kate Young is a clinical bio scientist and embryologist in both clinical NHS hospitals and private laboratories in the UK and Japan. She graduated with a BSc in Human Biological Studies from Leicester University, moved to Japan in 2006, where she specialized in IVF and embryology.

The early years of her career included Lab supervisor at Nottingham City Hospital’s Sperm Bank and Product Research and Development Technician at Boots PLC in Nottingham, testing sunscreen SPF’s and non-irritant baby products before focusing her expertise in ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) and Genetics, which became her passion. You can find more about Kate, Healthy Stuff Lab Manager, here.

 

References

  1. Alammar, N., Wang, L., Saberi, B., Nanavati, J., Holtmann, G., Shinohara, R. T., & Mullin, G. E. (2019). The impact of peppermint oil on the irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of the pooled clinical data. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-018-2409-0
  2. Sanders, M. E., Merenstein, D. J., Reid, G., Gibson, G. R., & Rastall, R. A. (2019). Probiotics and prebiotics in intestinal health and disease: from biology to the clinic. Nature reviews. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 16(10), 605–616. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41575-019-0173-3
  3. Magge, S., & Lembo, A. (2012). Low-FODMAP Diet for Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 8(11), 739–745. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3966170/
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