An introduction to bloating after eating
There are many causes of abdominal bloating or distension, but perhaps the most common of these relate to abdominal bloating after eating because of the production of excess gas in the digestive tract.
Gas is normally produced in the gut. It has been estimated that more than 5 litres of the stuff is produced each day, which is gently released downwards as flatus (wind) or alternatively, upwards when burping.
An excess of gas, either immediately or a few hours after eating, gives rise to bloating and discomfort in the abdomen. Some of the more common reasons for excessive digestive gas are described in our page on what causes bloating.
Chew your food
There are certain lifestyle changes you can make to help yourself avoid the bloat after eating.
The first, described in this page, is perhaps the most important. It is very simple advice but paradoxically, in our rushed modern world, it is perhaps one of the more difficult things to achieve successfully.
Take care when chewing your food - chew each mouthful a minimum of 30 times. This takes time to do and you won’t be able to eat quickly. However, taking the requisite time means that your stomach will be allowed to produce good amounts of digestive juices. In addition, every time you swallow, you will be introducing food into your stomach that is properly mashed up.
The result is that food is broken down naturally, easily and more efficiently. This improves symptoms of indigestion you may be experiencing, acid reflux as well as reducing gas and bloating after eating.
Other lifestyle changes
There are other things in your lifestyle you can look into, including:
- If you smoke, cut this out – it is not only your digestion and bloating that will improve
- Drink plenty of water as it will help your general health. However, avoid drinking water 30 minutes before your meal and try to limit the amount of fluid consumed during each meal so as not to dilute your digestive juices
- Reduce or cut out alcohol. If you do feel a need for a drink, do so in moderation and stick to wine rather than spirits
- Avoid stress. Remember that stress (‘fight or flight’) hormones increase the amount of acid in your stomach, giving you indigestion or worse, ulcers
- Learn to handle stress better. It is not always possible to avoid stress, so managing it better is the logical next step. Ask yourself – what were you like the last time you were late for an appointment because of being stuck in a traffic jam?
- Exercise more. Not only will this help you relax, it will also improve your digestive function in general
Watch what you eat
Certain foods can make bloating worse:
- Fizzy drinks (including fizzy water) – they contain a lot of carbonated gas
- Sugary drinks - high levels of sugars will encourage gut bacteria to produce more gas
- ‘Diet drinks’ – contain sugar substitutes such as sorbitol and also leads to an increase in production of gas as the body cannot absorb these well
- Dark beers or real ales
- Vegetables are good for you, but avoid Brussel sprouts, leek, onions, turnips, cabbage, beans
- Fatty foods, if your bloating after eating is due to indigestion or acid reflux
- If you are intolerant to certain foods such as lactose, avoid them
- Avoid dairy cream or dishes made with lots of the stuff, even if you are not lactose intolerant
- Avoid using straws, drinking from bottles or chewing gum as they can introduce an excessive amount of air into your digestive system
Depending on the cause of your bloating, there are certain foods you can eat to help yourself:
- Live, natural yoghurt
- If you are constipated, foods rich in fibre as well as prunes can help
- If you suffer from IBS, drink peppermint tea
Many people reading these pages will be interested to know how complementary remedies can help those experiencing digestive bloating after eating:
- Try using a bitter herb such as centaurium to ‘wake up’ your stomach
- Or take Digestisan, a licensed herbal remedy for symptoms of indigestion or flatulence containing cynara or dandelion, before each meal
- Use a prebiotic such as Molkosan – it should be considered before using any probiotic supplement or taken together with probiotics
- If you are having difficulty managing your stress, try a licensed herbal remedy containing valerian herb.