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4 Ways to Stop Bloating Before It Starts

Say goodbye to that ballooned feeling in your belly.
FACT CHECKED BY Samantha Boesch

We have all been there: the uncomfortable bloat that leaves you distended and feeling pretty bleh following a meal. While the sensation of bloat is usually due to a build-up of intestinal gas, there are many factors that can cause abdominal bloat.

We each have our own unique sensitivities and triggers that may lead to that ballooned feeling in our belly, and luckily, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of the dreaded bloat. And, even better, you may even be able to avoid bloat all together. Here are 4 ways to stop bloating before it even begins.

Read on, and for more healthy eating tips check out 6 Foods That Heal Your Body.

Slow down.

slow down eating

How often do you sit down to a meal, starving, and ready to devour your plate in minutes? Well, one of the common causes of bloat is eating too fast, so if you are known for quickly devouring meals, you may be setting yourself up for bloating.

Swallowing excessive amounts of air, a condition called aerophagia, is known to produce uncomfortable digestive symptoms, like bloating and flatulence. While swallowing too much air can be caused by several factors, like intense exercise, smoking, and chewing gum, eating too quickly is a top culprit. There may not be an exact time goal to meet while eating a meal; however, if you are taking another bite of food before your first bite is completely chewed and swallowed, you are likely eating too quickly.

In addition to fully chewing and swallowing each bite before taking the next, also try taking smaller bites, eat with your mouth closed, and limit talking while eating to reduce the likelihood of bloat.

Know your sensitivities.

food sensitivity

Food sensitivities are a main culprit of digestive upset, including symptoms like bloating. Carbohydrate malabsorption is a cause of bloat and can occur with a wide variety of foods. For example, those with lactose intolerance may experience bloat after eating dairy products, and others that do not digest fructose well may experience abdominal distention after eating certain fruits.

Additionally, many individuals experience bloat after consuming sugar alcohols, which are often found in sugar-free and low-sugar products. It can sometimes be challenging to narrow down the foods that cause bloating and other uncomfortable digestive symptoms, but food sensitivity tests and elimination diets are two options to explore if you commonly experience bloat and other gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms after eating.

Once you have a good understanding of the foods you don't digest well, simply avoiding them should reduce the amount of bloating your experience.

Increase your fluids.

woman drinking water

Water is essential to every system and cell in your body, and is especially important for your digestive tract. Fluid keeps your digestive organs lubricated to allow for smooth passage of materials, and also is essential for digestive regularity.

When you do not drink enough fluid you may notice several symptoms throughout your body, like headaches, dry skin, and lethargy, and in your digestive tract, bloat and constipation may become more apparent. It is especially important to drink enough fluid relative to your fiber intake. While fiber adds bulk to your stool and aids in regularity, too much fiber without enough fluid is a recipe for bloat and potential constipation.

You may have heard recommendations to avoid drinking water during a meal because it can dilute important enzymes necessary for digestion. However, current research suggests drinking water during or after a meal may actually aid in the digestion process.

Fluid recommendations vary from person to person based on many factors, but the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommend adult women consume at least 11.5 cups of fluid daily, while men should drink at least 15.5 cups.

 The Absolute Best Drink For Bloating, Says Dietitian

Try a supplement.

health supplements

There are so many factors required for normal digestion- the proper functioning of organs, digestive enzymes, the pH of your stomach, and microscopic intestinal bacteria are just some of the factors required for proper digestion. When some of these factors, like the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract, get out of whack, bloating after a meal may become more common.

Probiotics, the healthy bacteria in your intestines, aid in digestion and a slew of other bodily functions, but they can become imbalanced over time due to illness and medications, amongst other factors. One way to stop bloating before it starts is to take a probiotic supplement. These products can increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut that will aid in proper digestion.

In order to get the most out of your probiotic supplement, make sure you are taking it every day and know it may take a few weeks before you notice an improvement in digestive symptoms. In addition to taking a probiotic supplement, you can also eat more probiotic-rich foods, like yogurt, kefir, and kombucha.

Kelsey Hampton Abdullah, MS, RDN
Kelsey is a Texas-based dietitian and professor who specializes in sports nutrition. Read more about Kelsey