Being bloated after a meal is a feeling that most people experience occasionally. It can cause the stomach to feel swollen and uncomfortable, which may be accompanied by flatulence or burping.
While bloating after eating is not unusual, there are several ways to avoid it. In this article, we look at 10 ways to prevent bloating.
What causes bloating after eating?
Bloating is common after eating, but avoiding certain foods can help to prevent it.
Bloating occurs in the abdominal area. It happens when large amounts of air or gas build up in the gastrointestinal tract.
Eating is a common cause of bloating because when the body digests food, it produces gas. People also swallow air when eating or drinking, which then enters the gastrointestinal tract. Flatulence and burping usually help to relieve buildups of gas and air in the gut.
Bloating is a symptom of many health conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or a food intolerance. However, most cases of bloating are avoidable.
Ten ways to avoid bloating after eating
The following tips can help reduce or prevent bloating after eating:
1. Do not eat too much fiber
Fiber is a carbohydrate found in plant-based foods that the body cannot digest. It has some important functions within the body, such as helping to regulate blood sugar levels and sugar consumption.
Examples of high-fiber foods include:
- fruits, such as apples and oranges
- whole grain oats
- split peas
- Brussels sprouts
2. Be aware of food intolerance and allergies
Bloating is a typical symptom of a food intolerance or allergy. Intolerances and allergies can cause excessive gas production or gas to become trapped in the gastrointestinal tract. The foods most likely to cause this are wheat or gluten.
No reliable tests exist to identify a specific food intolerance or allergy, so the best way to identify them is through trial and error. It can help to keep a food diary to track which foods are causing symptoms, such as bloating.
3. Avoid high-fat foods
Fat is an essential part of any healthful diet and is an important source of energy. The body digests fats slowly because they take longer than most other foods to pass through the digestive tract, and can delay emptying of the stomach. In some people, this can cause bloating to occur.
For people who experience this, avoiding foods that are high in fat might help to reduce bloating. For example, a study in people with stomach-emptying problems found that high-fat solid meals caused an increase in symptoms, including bloating.
4. Drinking and eating slowly
The carbon dioxide contained in carbonated drinks can cause bloating.
Drinking or eating too quickly increases the amount of air a person swallows, which can lead to more gas building up in the gastrointestinal tract.
For people who eat or drink quickly, this may be a cause of bloating; slowing down the rate at which they eat might help to reduce the problem.
5. Avoid carbonated drinks
Carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide, a gas that can build up in the gastrointestinal tract and cause bloating. This can also occur with diet versions of fizzy drinks.
Still water is the best alternative to carbonated drinks for lowering the risk of bloating.
Ginger is a traditional remedy for digestive issues. It contains carminative, which is helpful for reducing excessive gas in the gastrointestinal tract.
A 2013 review suggested that ginger has some health benefits, including alleviating gastrointestinal issues, such as bloating.
7. Avoid chewing gum
Chewing gum causes a person to swallow more air. This air can build up in the gastrointestinal tract and cause bloating in some people.
8. Light exercise after eating
Light exercise after eating, such as going for a walk, may help reduce bloating for some people.
One study found that light physical exercise helps remove gas from the gastrointestinal tract and relieves bloating.
9. Avoid talking while eating
Talking while eating increases the opportunity of swallowing air. This can cause a build-up of air in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to bloating.
10. Treating heartburn
Heartburn occurs when acid from the stomach travels back up the throat, which can cause an uncomfortable burning sensation. It is also a common cause of bloating.
Treating heartburn can be an effective way of reducing bloating for some people. A person can treat heartburn using over-the-counter medications such as antacids.
When to see a doctor
If abdominal pain accompanies bloating, a person may have an underlying health issue.
Bloating after eating is a widespread experience and usually not a cause for concern. People with bloating can often treat their symptoms at home, such as by using one of the methods highlighted in this article.
However, bloating can sometimes also be a symptom of an underlying health condition that may require medical attention.
Anyone with bloating accompanied by other symptoms should see a doctor. These symptoms might include:
People who are experiencing bloating after most meals should also speak to a doctor.