- Bloating and stomach distention are the two most common GI symptoms after eating.
- A small amount of bloating after meals or drinks is normal.
- Many things can cause painful or excessive bloating, and a registered dietitian can help you solve your bloating issues.
After eating, bloating and stomach distention (enlarged stomach) are the two most common gastrointestinal (GI or stomach) symptoms. Other symptoms associated with bloating are nausea, heartburn, or burping. Bloating affects 30% of the adult population.
Bloating is trapped gas or air, stomach pressure, and fullness. Distention is a measurable increase in abdominal size; these symptoms can occur together or alone. Some people may need to loosen their belts or switch to looser-waisted clothing to feel better after eating.
A small amount of bloating is normal and shouldn’t necessarily bring alarm. When you wake in the morning, there is usually minimal bloating as the stomach and GI tract are relatively empty.
Painful or excessive bloating may develop due to food intolerances or allergies, a change in gut bacteria balance, side effects from a new medication, a sudden increase in fiber intake, or stress.
Pinpointing the cause of bloating can take time. Bloating and other GI side effects can occur for many reasons. Seeking expert and customized care can help you explore possible reasons, understand why bloating happens, and find effective solutions.
In this article, you’ll learn how a registered dietitian (RD) can help with bloating and five tips to prevent and manage the condition.
Nourish can connect you with a registered dietitian specializing in bloating and GI symptoms. If you need help finding the cause of your bloating and getting relief, consider booking a virtual appointment today.
Can a Dietitian Help with Bloating?
Registered dietitians are uniquely trained to help with bloating. Food and digestion seem like a straightforward process of eating, digesting, and absorbing nutrients without excessive GI symptoms. Our bodies respond differently to stress, foods, drinks, illness, or travel, which can disrupt the process.
A registered dietitian can help you determine if bloating can be managed by changes in diet, drinks, meal timing, adding pre and probiotic-rich foods, or exercise. Additionally, they can guide you to supplementary medical help if needed.
Benefits of Working with a Registered Dietitian for Bloating
Registered dietitians have extensive training.
A four-year degree with a specially designed nutrition curriculum is required. RDs take courses on digestion, biology, chemistry, health conditions and how they relate to food, counseling, reading research studies, and nutrition.
They work with other healthcare providers to help you.
RDs complete 1,200 hours of supervised practice with other healthcare professionals and experienced registered dietitians before becoming a dietitian. This experience equips them to help you specifically!
Most dietitians have graduate degrees and special certifications.
More than half of dietitians have a graduate degree, and all must complete continuing education which allows you to get the best information and care. Dietitians love to dig into the ‘why’s’ for you and get you answers.
How a Dietitian Can Help With Bloating
Since learning why an RD can help you, you may wonder what a visit looks like. A visit includes looking at your medications, health history, conditions, and typical lifestyle and diet. This information and clarifying additional questions allow an RD to look at the whole picture.
A dietitian then partners with you to create a custom, realistic eating plan to reduce your bloating (along with any other nutrition-related issues). You trial the eating plan and provide feedback to the dietitian on what went well and what could be improved.
The eating plan is changed based on your response and needs. Working together may take several sessions to lessen your bloating and find the best plan for you. It also takes time to put new eating plans into practice.
A dietitian will use creative and compassionate strategies to help with meal planning, grocery shopping, label reading, mindful eating, and tips for staying motivated.
5 Tips to Reduce Bloating
Here are some tips to help you find relief from bloating.
1. Choose the Right Foods for Relief
If you are experiencing uncomfortable bloating, try some of these foods for relief. A 2019 study compared a low FODMAP diet to a simple reduction of common trigger foods among individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Participants following the low FODMAP diet reported reduced bloating, stomach pain, and discomfort.
FODMAP is an acronym for common problematic foods for those with GI issues. The elimination diet is meant to be followed anywhere from 2-6 weeks, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Foods on a low FODMAP diet include eggs, meat, certain cheeses, dairy-free milk, grains like rice and oats, vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, green beans, lettuce, and fruits including grapes, berries, and citrus.
Remember, a low FODMAP diet isn’t meant to be followed long-term and is best done with the support of an experienced dietitian. Follow the diet to remove common triggers while eating foods that typically provide relief, and then add common trigger foods back with the guidance of a dietitian.
Nourish offers customized nutrition counseling to help you reduce bloating while maintaining a balanced and long-term diet. If you’re ready to take the next step in your health, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian.
2. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating involves being aware of the present eating moment and shifting attention to the food and mind-body connection. Simply changing how you eat can reduce bloating significantly. Many of us multi-task while eating and may barely chew before swallowing our food.
Taking time to eat slower can help you to chew your food well and reduce the workload needed for your GI tract to digest your food. Try chewing each mouthful 30 times and set your utensil down between bites.
3. Eat Smaller Portions More Often
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that Americans eat most of their food after noon (62% of their daily intake). Spreading your daily intake into smaller meals and snacks can lessen digestive work leading to less bloating.
Consider trialing three meals and two to three small snacks to see if you see improvement in bloating. A timing change rather than a complete diet overhaul may allow for a comfortable bloat-free day.
4. Keep a Log of Foods That May Cause Bloating
Nutrition changes are introduced at the beginning of a treatment plan for bloating. Keep track of foods that seem to trigger or increase bloating.
Often, dairy or lactose can cause excessive bloating in individuals who are lactose intolerant. Around two-thirds of the world is lactose intolerant.
Some foods can cause more bloating than others. Included on this list are:
- Wheat products such as bread, pasta, and cereal.
- A type of carbohydrate called fructans can increase bloating. Some high fructan foods include most forms of onions, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, artichokes, and asparagus.
- High-fat foods.
- Fiber-rich foods or increasing your fiber intake rapidly.
- Poorly digested and absorbed carbohydrates such as those high in fiber or containing sugar alcohols.
Not all individuals experience bloating after these foods, so it’s best to simply observe your symptoms after eating to see if you have a tolerance issue. Prematurely avoiding these foods is not recommended; instead, start by keeping a list of foods that cause bloating.
5. Eat More Soluble Fiber
Health professionals recommend increasing fiber intake to help with GI conditions. Research shows that certain types of fiber result in lower gas production (less bloating). In contrast, short-chain and fermentable dietary fiber (high FODMAP and the foods listed in the point above) can cause rapid bloating and discomfort.
Most foods have a mix of soluble and other fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber, including oats, bananas, strawberries, chia and flax seeds, nuts, green beans, and carrots, usually reduce bloating.
Finding the cause(s) of your bloating will likely take patience and several approaches.
Start by trying the five tips above to reduce bloating and connect with a dietitian specializing in gut health. Working with a registered dietitian will speed up your relief with expert advice and customized strategies.
How Nourish Can Help
Partner with a professional in managing GI health. Gut health dietitians are uniquely trained to help you reduce bloating with a custom diet and lifestyle plan and incorporate other nutrition-related health conditions.
Nourish has a team of dietitians available for online appointments. Every dietitian is covered by insurance, and many are specialized in gut health. Get started now.
Frequently Asked Questions
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