As I’m writing this, I am on a plane to Japan, and let me tell you—nothing says bloated like a 10+ hour flight.
Recently, I've noticed a common thread among many of my female clients. Many have expressed concern over constant bloating that isn’t always from premenstrual symptoms or even jet-setting across the country. It seems no matter what they eat, their stomach descends like a hot air balloon.
Bloating can be extremely disconcerting, affecting a person both physically and emotionally. Growing up, I always suffered from stomach problems, where often times, I was rushed to the emergency room due to chronic shooting pains that would stab me like a knife for hours on end. Not only was I frustrated with the fact that my jeans never fit properly, I even feared food because of the constant pain. Don't get me wrong, it didn't keep me from eating, but I never was able to fully enjoy a meal without some level of suffering.
The reasons for bloating are many. It could stem from certain food allergies, poor sleeping patterns, a lack of physical activity, those gotta-love premenstrual symptoms, pregnancy, an imbalance of bacteria in the intestines, dehydration, taking in too much air as you eat, and not chewing enough or well. The list goes on.
Instead of treating my body like the enemy, I’ve realized that my body is in constant communication with me, good and bad. As frustrating as it is, I’ve truly learned to appreciate how my body tells me when something isn’t right—and that it’s time to explore, listen, and learn. It’s an incredible opportunity to become more connected to myself.
After trial and error, with much determination and patience, my body and I have come to place of agreement. Quite frankly, we are in love. After getting tests done, I discovered I am allergic to wheat/gluten as well as some fruit sugars. You can imagine how eye opening this was for me and how grateful I felt.
But no one person is the same, and food allergies aren't always the answer. If you experience bloating, it’s time to pay attention and honor your body with love and compassion—it’s your best friend. Live in health and be vibrant, and in the meanwhile, try these universal tips to help alleviate bloating:
It seems so simple, but it works! Before you sit down to eat, take a few breaths. Close your eyes and think about taking your time, chewing thoroughly and slowly while appreciating the food on your plate. Think about how the food will nourish you, and have gratitude for it. Continue to breathe and promise yourself that you will listen to when you feel satisfied. Breathing will help put you in a meditative state while eating, helping you to connect more to your body.
2. Drink Water
One of the most effective ways to alleviate stomach discomfort is the simple act of drinking enough water throughout the day. I can't say enough about water! It really is that simple. Water is about 60 percent of your body weight, and helps carry nutrients to your cells while flushing toxins out. Adequate water intake throughout the day alleviates dehydration and aids in proper digestion—not to mention regular bowel movements. Different studies vary on how much water you should have, but the rule of thumb is "8 by 8"— eight, eight-ounce glasses a day. The Department of Health recommends getting around 1.2 liters of fluid every day (that’s around 40 ounces). But these numbers vary, depending on how much you exercise, your size, and the weather, among others. No matter what, try drinking in small amounts throughout the day and not all at once.
3. GET MOVING
Exercise is a fantastic way to alleviate stomach bloating! Yes! Yes! Yes! Even the simple act of a 10-minute walk can help reduce stomach pains because it helps push gas through the digestive system. So get moving! Try exercising at least three times a week and if you can, amp it up to five.
4. CHEW SLOWLY (WITH THE MOUTH CLOSED)
Alright folks, this isn't a pie eating contest. Eating too fast can put a large strain on the digestive tract and doesn't give the body enough time and space to digest effectively. When taking a bite of your food, try chewing 30 times before swallowing. I know this sounds like a lot. But your food should be mush before it goes down your throat. It will also help you taste and connect to your food instead of just inhaling it all in. You’ll probably also notice that you might feel fuller faster, with more food on your plate than usual. Make sure to chew with your mouth closed—and this goes for chewing gum as well.
5. NO NEED FOR STRAWS
Have you ever noticed men always throw their straws out of their drinks?! Well, they may be onto something! Drinking out of a straw can cause you to inhale too much air everytime you go for a sip, possibly contributing to an increase in gas. So do like the guys do and toss the straws.
6. GET TESTED FOR FOOD ALLERGIES
Like I mentioned before, no one person is the same. If you experience abdominal pain every time you eat, it might be something that you're munching on. Seek professional help from a doctor to rule out all possibilities. They might suggest getting tested for food allergies or offer additional advice.
7. DRINK PEPPERMINT OR CHAMOMILE TEA
Both peppermint and chamomile tea are believed to relax the body both mentally and physically.They help food pass through the stomach quickly to calm potential bloating and flatulence, and aid in digestion. So before you go to bed, boil some water, relax and take a big sip of goodness.
Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness.