A bit of bloating can cause a lot of discomfort, but everyone experiences it on occasion. Stress, anxiety, smoking, hormonal shifts, sitting too long and medical conditions, such as celiac disease and lactose intolerance, can all make you retain water. But you can start managing this condition quite simply by eating a healthy diet that is limited in bloat-inducing foods. If you experience severe or long-lasting symptoms, consult your doctor to determine a possible underlying condition.
One teaspoon of salt contains 2,325 milligrams of sodium, more than the recommended maximum of 2,300 daily milligrams. Excessive salt intake, which is the norm in the United States, according to the Mayo Clinic, can cause or worsen fluid retention, because sodium influences fluid balance in your body. To cut back on salt, season dishes with natural herbs or spices instead. When purchasing canned foods, such as soups, beans and veggies, choose low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties. Other salt-rich foods worth limiting include pretzels, potato chips and processed meats and cheeses.
Refined grains lack fiber, a type of carbohydrate that promotes digestive function and staves off constipation -- an all-too-common condition that can cause and worsen bloating. If you're currently eating a low-fiber diet, gradually increase your intake of high-fiber foods, such as whole grain breads and cereals, to prevent gas. Dr. Terry Bolin, a gastroenterologist and president of The Gut Foundation, recommends replacing white bread with rye or spelt bread for reduced bloating. Brown, basmati and wild rice are whole grains that do no stimulate gas during digestion.
Certain Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Certain varieties, however, cause gas and bloating in some people. If you're prone to gassiness, Joy Bauer, a registered dietitian and author of "Food Cures," recommends avoiding common triggers, such as cabbage, beans, brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Fruit juices and sweetened fruits may also contribute to gas and bloating. Safe alternatives include berries, melon, mushrooms, bell peppers and carrots.
Fatty foods make your stomach empty more slowly, making bloating a near given if you eat them in excess. The saturated fats in red meat, fried foods and high-fat dairy products can increase inflammation throughout your body, worsening stomach swell. To prevent these effects, the Mayo Clinic recommends eating small, frequent meals and emphasizing complex carbohydrate sources, such as whole grains, and lean protein sources, such as fish and skinless poultry. Using low-fat cooking methods, such as baking, broiling, steaming and poaching, can also help keep bloating at bay.
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media. augustmclaughlin.com