Beat the Bloat: 5 Foods I Limit/Skip
Bloating is a frustrating thing, and what’s even more annoying is that its dietary culprits vary from person to person - no two people bloat quite the same. Its still taking me time to figure out my personal triggers (through classic trial + error) but here are some sure-fire foods I now know to limit or skip in order to beat my bloat. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover they bother you too?
1. Throat Lozenges
Starting off with an unexpected one but yes throat lozenges make me bloat all the time. If you’ve had similar experiences, it’s probably due to the artificial sweeteners and/or added coloring. I make sure to limit myself to 1-2 candies a day. If your throat is really bothering you, opt for a [throat spray] instead. Whenever I was sick as an undergrad, I religiously kept a bottle in my bag 24/7; it worked great. And no bloat!
2. Mixed + Carbonated Alcoholic Beverages
Sugary mixed drinks make me bloat every. single. time. In the event I really want a tequila sunrise or cranberry vodka, I keep it to one drink per night and/or share with a friend. I completely refrain from carbonated drinks; champagne is a big N.O. (this is a common issue I’ve seen in other IBD and IBS patients). In my sorority days, I’d usually bypass the soda and juice mixers for liquor shots chased with water. Not the easiest way to drink, but it’ll keep you hydrated, force you to pace yourself and possibly give you some mad street cred???
Note: Of course, if you do have IBD and are in a flare, I would recommend you skip alcohol altogether. It’s like throwing acid on an open wound. And be mindful for your medications. I will never drink while on corticosteroids or antibiotics, for example.
Ah, as if there wasn’t enough hate in this world for wheat. I've been told that wheat can lead to water retention, hence the bloat some people experience after, say, a giant bowl of pasta. Here are a couple of my tried and true switch-a-roos when I’m looking to limit this food:
- At breakfast restaurants I opt for eggs, bacon and fruit over French toast, pancakes or toast (Bonus benefit: I don’t feel like I need a nap afterwards).
- Taco Tuesday? I make myself a taco bowl instead of tacos in wheat tortillas.
- At In-n-Out, I always order my burger w/ a lettuce bun instead of a bread bun. They call it “protein style.” Ask if your restaurant can do the same for you. Just be warned: lettuce buns can get super messy. Napkins at the ready.
4. Highly Fibrous Foods: Raw Vegetables, Nuts, Etc.
I bring this up for all my fellow Crohn’s, Colitis + IBS readers. When I was having my first [Crohn’s] flare, I ate tons of nuts, raw foods and cruciferous vegetables (as in broccoli and kale) in an attempt to "be healthier." And yet I'd go to bed every night in pain with a massive distended stomach. Turns out, I was straining my system with waaay too much insoluble fiber, and filling my digestive tract w/ air from all the fermentation. If this sounds like you after eating a huge raw salad, try switching to juiced or cooked veggies, limiting your daily nut intake or mindfully tracking your fiber. It’s an important lesson I’ve learned along my journey – healthy, whole foods aren’t always innocent, and less is sometimes more.
5. Sugar Alcohols
Grab your favorite protein bar and scan the ingredients on its food label. Sugar alcohols are commonly filed under the names erythritol, sorbitol, mannitol, lactitol, xylitol or maltitol, to name a few. They’re hybrids of sugar + alcohol molecules, and an attractive ingredient to put into processed “health” foods. Due to their similar chemical structure, they taste just like sugar, but with fewer calories and a lower glycemic index. Um, hell ya! However, there’s a catch – they can cause some serious bloating and/or gas as they ferment in the gut. So yes, unfortunately, a lot of my favorite protein bars contain sugar alcohols. *Cue the sad violins* But don’t think you have to eliminate them from your diet completely. Instead, I just stay strategic about my timing. Want to break up with sugar alcohols for good? An alternative I now use is [RxBars]. They pack protein, use few ingredients and still taste ah-mazing.
Maybe some of these foods cause you to bloat too. They may also not! What’s essential is that you stay mindful of your own body. If you want to identify your triggers, keep mental or physical notes of how you feel after every meal. And just because a food makes you bloat doesn’t mean you have to write it off forever. I still eat my favorite protein bars and enjoy big slices of toast from time to time. Let your self-assessment enlighten you, not cripple you!
DISCLAIMER: Although I am in the process of earning my RD license, the content of this website is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek guidance and the final word from a practicing professional. This is merely a place to share my personal experience and anecdotal advice. Cheers!