Avoiding and Managing IBS Bloating
Bloating can be one of the most frustrating parts of living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It can feel uncomfortable, unflattering, and even painful. Unfortunately, bloating is one of the most common symptoms of IBS, but understanding its causes and how to prevent it can help.
Causes of Bloating
Bloating is when your stomach feels distended, which is often worse after eating for those who have IBS.
Some causes of this condition include excess gas production and abnormal functioning of the muscles of the digestive system. Both of these can be affected by many factors.
Bloating is often caused by how and what you eat.
Eating too much or too fast can result in a bloated tummy. It can also be attributed to dietary causes, such as fiber, dairy, or fatty foods. And if you have IBS, eating foods to which you have sensitivities is a common culprit of bloating.
Fortunately, by paying close attention to your eating habits and recording everything in your IBS symptom diary, you can prevent bloating from happening. And if you are already experiencing its effects, there are many ways to soothe it.
How to Prevent IBS Bloating
The best-case scenario with bloating is to prevent it before it happens. Managing these diet and lifestyle factors can help you avoid having to deal with a swollen belly.
Eat Small, Regular Meals
Eating too much at once can lead to bloating after a meal. Eat small meals regularly throughout the day to allow your body to more easily digest food.
It takes 20 minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is full, so if you’re scarfing down a meal more quickly than that, you risk overeating and feeling bloated.
When you eat too quickly, you also swallow more air along with your food. This produces gas, expanding your belly.
When eating too fast, you may not chew your food enough and could end up eating larger pieces of food. These are harder for your digestive system to process than small pieces of food.
These large pieces of food sit in your digestive system longer, adding to the distended feeling that comes with bloating.
Scheduling at least 20 minutes for each meal you eat will allow you to thoroughly chew your food and give your body enough time to realize it is full so you don’t overeat.
Use Dietary Fiber Wisely
While dietary fiber can assist with constipation, it also causes gas and bloating. Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grains, which are all foods that are high in dietary fiber.
If you would like to use dietary fiber to lessen the effects of constipation, you can try gradually increasing it in your diet over several weeks. You can also test out taking a fiber supplement, which may not have the same negative impact as dietary fiber on bloating.
Avoid Dairy Products
If you are lactose intolerant, dairy products can cause painful bloating and gas as your body struggles to digest lactose. You can try substituting dairy products with lower lactose percentage, or you might want to cut out dairy products altogether.
Don’t Eat Fatty Foods
Foods with a higher fat content take longer for your digestive system to process. Although fatty foods can help you feel more satisfied after eating, you should avoid them if you have a tendency toward bloating.
Exercise promotes healthy digestive function, so building a consistent exercise routine can help prevent bloating. If you spend most of the day sitting, you may also want to build regular movement breaks into your routine.
How to Soothe Bloating with IBS
Even with your best efforts to prevent it, you might still end up being uncomfortably bloated for one reason or another. Fortunately, there are many ways to soothe bloating when you experience it.
Water aids in digestive processes, so staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the day is a must, especially when you’re feeling bloated.
Drink Peppermint Tea
Peppermint has antispasmodic properties, which soothes the smooth muscle in the digestive tract. Drinking peppermint tea or taking peppermint oil in the form of a supplement can reduce the effects of bloating.
Ginger is a carminative, or an herb, that is known to lessen bloating and gas, as well as to calm the digestive tract. Ginger is especially helpful in alleviating bloating because it contains pain-relieving properties, which help combat the discomfort of abdominal swelling.
Some clinical trials have shown that probiotics decrease the symptom of bloating for people with IBS. Probiotic supplements are available, and probiotics are present in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
If these suggestions don’t work, your doctor or nutritionist may be able to recommend an effective solution. There are many supplements, over-the-counter medications, and prescription medications that a doctor could recommend.
A medical professional may also be able to identify an underlying cause, such as a food sensitivity or bacterial overgrowth, of which you are not aware.