7 Healthy Foods That Cause Bloating
Bloat. It's that annoying feeling of fullness or pressure in the abdomen that has become all too familiar for many of us. Ever since I was a young teen, I remember being cautious about what i'd eat in the hopes of not blowing up like a balloon and feeling super uncomfortable.
Over the years, experience (wayyy too much experience, if you ask me) taught me that sugar, salt, and chemical-laden packaged junk foods were the main culprits. And so, the the disappointment of my young self, I avoided them.
It was around the same time - thirteen, I think it was - that I become vegetarian. I'd swapped most of my meals out with raw salads, lentil patties, and more dairy. Despite feeling lighter and more energized than I did when consuming all the junk, I'd still find myself getting bloated very often.
Over the last 3 years, I've been diagnosed with IBS, mild ulcerative colitis, endometriosis, and was informed of my elongated colon. Doesn't sound fun, huh? The experience was definitely painful and the healing process was frustrating. But it is also what encouraged me to become a certified Health & Wellness Coach specializing in Gut Health.
During my studies, I learned the ins and outs of our digestive system and, ultimately, the mystery behind WHY WE GET BLOATED.
To simplify, bloating is usually attributed to trapped gas or air within our digestive tract. It can become trapped by swallowing air while eating too quickly, eating foods that fee the bad bacteria in our digestion, or a slow metabolism, which allows for food moving through our GI tract to ferment causing gas.
Our digestive systems are way more interesting and complex than that but without further ado, here are 7 healthy foods that you should avoid if you're headed to a pool party or trying to fit into that tight dress this summer:
1. Beans & Legumes
Beans and Legumes are a common staple for many of us that follow a vegan or vegetarian diet and with good reason! They're an awesome source of fiber, nutrients, proteins, and healthy carbs.
However, beans are also high in FODMAPs, an acronym for a number of short chain carbohydrates that can't fully be digested and, instead, are fermented by gut bacteria in the colon, causing gas. It also contains a starch calls raffinose, which causes similar symptoms as foods high in FODMAPS.
A good protein alternative is fish or if you're vegan, unsweetened nut butter. However, if you absolutely can't resist beans, try soaking them in water and changing the water regularly during soaking time. In terms of lentils, opt for lighter colored ones like orange.
2. Raw Veggies
I really do believe that vegetables should cover a good majority of each of our plates. They're packed with vital vitamins and minerals and packed with fiber.
If you ever get constipated, the first thing a doctor (or google) will tell you to do is load up on fiber. This is because fiber isn't absorbed in the body, but rather sweeps out and hydrates our gut bacteria, encouraging bowel movements.
However, if you have a slower metabolism, the healthy fiber is moving too slowly through your digestive tract, leaving time for fermentation, and therefore, production of gas.
You should especially watch out for kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, a group of veggies referred to as cruciferous, as they contain the aforementioned raffinose and an easily fermentable fiber called pectin.
One thing you can do to ease bloating is cook your veggies. I like to think of cooking as a form of pre-digestion, because it starts to break down food before even entering your stomach. You can preserve a vegetable's nutrients by steaming or roasting rather than boiling or sautéing.
3. Garlic & Onion
If you happen to be a monk or embarking on a yoga teacher training, you'll know to refrain from garlic and onion. These two flavor-packed foods are super pungent and known to aggravate our sense of peace and balance, hence why the 'chillest' of people avoid them.
However, it seems that it's not only our mental/emotional state that garlic and onion aggravate. Both garlic and onion are extremely high in fructans or fructo-oligosaccharides (FODMAPs) that are very easily fermentable. In fact, if you're ever diagnosed with IBS or if you're simply suffering from a bout of extreme bloating, these foods should be one of your first to eliminate.
Cooking onions and garlic do ease symptoms but eliminating them completely is the best option, especially if you flavor your food with fresh herbs and spices like ginger, tumeric, and fennel. These spices don't only add great flavor but also ease digestion, in and of themselves.
4. Yogurt & Other Dairy Products
Dairy can be an awesome source of protein, however, most people can't digest the protein found within dairy called lactose. If this is you, consuming dairy products can cause extreme bloating. Having said that, many who are lactose-intolerant can still digest fermented dairy like yogurt.
While yogurt is full of gut healthy probiotics, it is often jam-packed with sugar that feed our bad bacteria, counteracting all benefits.
If you aren't lactose intolerant and wish to have yogurt, check ingredients to ensure there is no added chemicals and unnecessary sugar. If you think you may be lactose intolerant, there are many non-dairy and probiotic-filled yogurts on the market, such as coconut yogurt or almond-milk yogurt.
5. High-Fructose Fruit
Fruits that are especially high in fructose, such as apples, cherries, mangos, watermelon, and pears may be causing you some serious bloating. For me, watermelon seems to be the main culprit.
Many people who face chronic bloating have a condition called fructose malabsorption, which is when one can't digest fructose, causing gas and bloating. Fruits high in sugar, as well as the aforementioned foods high in fructans and FODMAPS, trigger that response.
As an alternative, consume low-sugar fruits such as berries and fruits that contain less than half of their natural sugars as fructose (cantaloupe, kiwi, clementine, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries).
6. Kombucha & Soda Water
Both Kombucha and soda water contain carbon dioxide which gives it the bubbly sensation. Although a good replacement for sugary drinks, the bubbles add extra gas to the body, which causes bloat.
In terms of kombucha, despite being full of healthy probiotics, they're also full of sugar, which feed the healthy bacteria in the kombucha itself, but also the bad bacteria in our gut.
Instead, stick to flavored water and herbal teas.
7. Sugar-Free Chewing Gum
Although not a health-food, many regard chewing gum as a great way to prevent themselves from eating when not hungry. It gives our mouths something to do.
This is true but it also contains sugar alcohols, which can cause digestive upset since our bodies don't know how to break it down. And on top of that, while chewing the gym, we also tend to swallow air, which adds even more gas to our stomachs.
Instead, sip on water throughout the day for better digestion and breath. For the minty flavor, add mint and lemon to your water.