U.S. News & World Report: Foods That Cause Bloating
One second, your stomach is flat…
The next, it’s too swollen to squeeze into your jeans, and you’re burpy and gassy to boot. If bloating sounds like the opposite of fun, well, an army of voices have already made that case. But the good news is we can often take steps to prevent it. Indeed, what we eat and drink plays a direct role in bloating. Experts recommend avoiding these dietary choices.
If you need to fit into a tight dress, steer clear of beans, lentils and peas. Some of the sugars they contain are difficult for the body to break down, which leads to gas and bloating. If legumes aren’t negotiable, stick to small portions or take Beano, a digestive enzyme product, beforehand.
If you have lactose intolerance – which means your body doesn’t have the necessary enzymes to break down sugar – dairy products will trigger bloating. There’s no need to remove milk from your diet, says registered dietitian Keri Gans, an Eat + Run blogger and author of “The Small Change Diet.” Simply opt for the lactose-free variety.
Asparagus, broccoli and cabbage
Sure, the green stuff is nutritious. But these veggies also contain raffinose, a sugar that remains undigested until it reaches the large intestine, where it’s fermented by methane-producing bacteria. Eat these in moderation, and couple them with other foods – doing so will help prevent bloating. And keep in mind: “Your body probably digests them better when they’re cooked, not raw,” says registered dietitian Stephanie Middleberg, who’s based in New York.
Nurturing a gum habit? The bad news is that the sugarless kind typically contains sorbitol, a sugar alcohol known for causing bloating and other gastrointestinal distress. That extends to other artificially-sweetened foods and drinks, too. Try to stick to 2 or 3 servings of these a day, if you can’t eliminate them completely. “The digestive system doesn’t love fake foods,” Middleberg says.
An apple a day may keep the doctor away – but it’ll make your belly look a bit swollen in the process. Some people have trouble tolerating fructose, a sugar found in apples and other fruits. Plus, apples are high in fiber, which can contribute to a bloated feeling, Gans says. Try eating half or a quarter of a serving at a time to minimize swelling.
Frozen dinners and processed food
Watch out for microwavable meals and canned soups, Gans warns, along with bottled salad dressing, condiments and sauces, which are typically high in salt. “Sodium can be a real trigger, especially for women,” she says. “Read labels carefully and search for lower sodium products.”
Used to chugging a few sodas a day? That could explain your bloating problems. The air bubbles in carbonated drinks – even if they’re diet – will expand inside your GI tract, “causing it to swell like a balloon filled with air,” says registered dietitian Cynthia Sass, author of “S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.”
Perhaps it’s not surprising that chowing down on a large quantity of food in one short sitting can trigger GI problems. When your stomach is fully expanded, it can hold about six cups of food – think six tennis balls, Sass says. High-volume meals can cause a bloated look. “That includes salads, so focus on portion sizes,” Middleberg says. “It’s especially important at restaurants, where you have less control.” Aim to leave at least a quarter of your food on your plate, or if you‘re opting for a salad, ask the chef to remove half the lettuce.