If you wake up in the morning with a flat stomach, but feel six months pregnant by the afternoon, one place to look is the food you’re eating.
You might be surprised by some of the foods below because some of them are technically healthy and great for you. So what gives? Well, sometimes there are actual imbalances with your digestive system and digestive juices, if you will, that cause you to feel uncomfortable and bloated even when it’s healthy.
Keep in mind, everyone is different. What causes one person to feel bloated might be easy to digest for another. That’s why whenever I’m helping my clients with digestive problems, we take a very personalized, custom approach.
Here are some of the worst foods for bloating:
If you follow a paleo diet, you know that grains are out. The reason behind this is that our ancestors did not eat grains and that grain farming is a relatively new practice. As humans, the paleo community would argue that we lack enough of the right enzymes to properly digest grains. There is some research saying that we are adapting and there has been an increase in the amount of salivary amylase (enzymes that digest grains); however, I will argue we are not 100% there yet.
Whether or not you’re paleo, grains are very high in two types of lectin. Lectins are a plant’s defence system and are most concentrated in the seed of the plant - hence why grains and legumes can be so hard to digest. We don’t digest lectins and to make a very long story short, eventually they can cause little holes in your digestive tract.
The thing is, lectins in grains don’t have such an immediate impact that it’s super obvious not to eat them. If they did, we likely wouldn’t have evolved into eating grains. Long term though, they can contribute to leaky gut and a compromised digestive system, one of the symptoms being bloating.
Almost all of the recipes I create are now grain free, because being Celiac, I’ve noticed that my digestion is significantly better eating 95% grain free.
If you grew up in the 60s and 70s, you will likely be terrified of removing your cow’s dairy. Why? The dairy board (and government) did a fantastic job of marketing dairy as the only/best source of calcium for bones. Well, the interesting thing is that the countries with the highest intake of cow’s dairy also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis. (Read more about that here.)
Now, in terms of bloating, not all dairy is created equal. Dairy foods that are high in lactose (the sugar found in dairy), like milk, can cause the worst bloating. Dairy foods that are low in lactose or that contain enzymes and live cultures to help digest, like kefir, are much easier to digest. Foods like Greek yogurt are also easier to digest, given the lower lactose content, but don’t be fooled. Many people also have sensitivities to the proteins found in cow’s dairy - casein and whey. These can manifest via skin conditions, inflammatory conditions like arthritis, or obvious digestive problems.
For a list of non-dairy sources of calcium, click here.
Remember how above I mentioned that everyone is different? I have problems digesting grains, but zero problem with legumes (which by the way include beans, lentils, peas and peanuts). However, many people do notice bloating after beans or legumes in particular.
Legumes, similarly to grains, have a very high lectin content. Not only do they contribute to a leaky gut in too high of quantities, but they also contain something called protease inhibitors, which prevent the protein from being properly digested (another defence mechanism by the legume). These protease inhibitors actually also prevent other proteins present from being digested.
Keep in mind that a small amount of legumes may not bother you - it may be more of a quantity thing. If you know that you have an issue with legumes, I recommend trying soaking and sprouting. Soaking allows the enzymes, good bacteria, and other helpful organisms neutralize enzyme inhibitors. You can read more about that here.
FOS is a source of fiber in many health products, like protein powders. It’s also a prebiotic, so can be added to some probiotics too. For those who have had an ‘experience’ with FOS, you will know that it can cause terrible smelling gas and very uncomfortable bloating. (FOS does NOT agree with me.)
My recommendation is to always check every ingredient because this one can be a major culprit in bloating, especially when using probiotics or protein powders.
Cruciferous veggies are my jam! I aim to eat at least one serving every single day. If you are wondering what they are, the most common ones are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel’s sprouts. They are fantastic for your liver and support removing excess (bad) estrogen - read more about that here.
Here’s the thing though, they are super high in fiber. Yes, this is a good thing…but sometimes it’s too much. Simply cooking these veggies makes them so much easier to digest. Also, sometimes as you improve your digestion overall - better stomach acid levels, enzymes and the good bacteria, you’re able to eat these raw veggies again.
There are some other foods/ingredients that I don’t have time to get in to today, but I will list here anyways:
If you do find yourself uncomfortable after eating, click here to read 4 Natural Cures For Bloating.