1. Keep stressors and negative emotions at bay: Your gut is VERY sensitive to what is going on in your life mentally and emotionally. Negative emotions and stress are two big triggers for an upset tummy. Generally, when we find ourselves in a specific stressful situation (a work deadline, an argument with our partner) we’re aware of the tension, physically and mentally.
But sometimes, the stress or negativity goes unnoticed or is unconsciously buried deep into our subconscious to protect us from the pain and discomfort. When this happens, your bloating becomes a way for your body to communicate with you.
Are you feeling overwhelmed? Are you holding on to emotions, such as fear and anger, and accumulating them instead of digesting them? Take some time to honestly look at what is going on in your life on a deeper level than just what sort of food you’re eating. There might be a very powerful message behind your bloating that you are unaware of.
2. Connect with your digestive system while eating: When you’re feeling stressed, upset or rushed, your nervous system goes into fight-or-flight mode. Stress hormones are high and blood flow to your gut is reduced, which makes your digestive fire weaker and your digestion slower. As food is not properly digested, fermentation and bloating often occur. To avoid this from happening, always eat in a quiet environment. Sit down and take a few deep belly breaths. Never eat standing, at your desk or while checking your phone.
To give your digestive system all the support it needs to optimally digest the food, be mindful of the food you’re eating and the amazing process happening in your body.
Start by thoroughly chewing your food. We’ve all heard that digestion starts in the mouth, yet very few of us chew their food properly. This advice alone could greatly reduce your bloating! You can find out more about this in my Heal Your Gut eBook which also includes 60 recipes to beat the bloat and heal your gut for good.
Eat slowly and put your fork down after each bite. Eating quickly causes more air to be sucked into your stomach, resulting in gas and bloating.
3. Avoid these common – yet very often overlooked – culprits:
* Drinking too much water while eating: I’m a fierce advocate of listening to your body cues so I’ll never tell you to not drink if you’re thirsty. However, try and avoid gulping down large amounts of water whilst eating, as it will dilute your digestive enzymes, making your digestion weaker and bloating more likely to occur.
* Chewing gum: Chewing gum leads to swallowing air, which can cause bloating, it’s as simple as that. Plus, sugar-free gums are usually packed with sugar alcohol, like maltitol, sorbitol and xylitol, which are notorious for causing gas.
* Drinking through a straw: Again, this causes excess air to be swallowed.
* Not soaking your nuts, seeds, grains and pulses: Raw nuts, seeds, grains and pulses all contain enzyme inhibitors, which impair digestion and block the absorption of many nutrients (such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc). Soaking your nuts, seeds, legumes and grains overnight in some water with either apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and Sea Salt will make them easier to digest and less gas-producing. Store your soaked nuts and seeds in your freezer in an airtight container and eat your grains and pulses in the next couple of days, as they will mold quickly otherwise.
* Eating fruit at the end of a meal: Fruit is digested very quickly, much faster than anything else that we eat, especially animal protein, dairy and grains. So, if you eat an apple after chicken and/or rice for example, it will be digested before the protein and grain, which means that the digested apple will sit on top of everything else and ferments while your body is busy digesting the rest of your meal, creating, you guessed it, gas and bloating.
So try and have your fruit on an empty stomach instead: first thing in the morning or as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack
* Eating processed foods: Processed and packaged foods, also known as frankenfoods, are full of chemicals, preservatives, dyes and other ingredients that our digestive systems aren’t used to and don’t know how to process. Gums and thickeners (Carageenan, xantham gum and guar gum), in particular, are hidden everywhere and can cause GI distress because they alter the balance of gut flora and are highly fermentable.
There are many other potential causes for your bloating, such as food intolerances, candida, SIBO (Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth) and parasites. But before you spend your time and money on blood, stool, breath and urine tests, I invite you to try the simple tips above and look at your bloating from a different perspective.
I believe our bodies are wonderful machines, continuously trying to get back into balance and able to heal themselves, as long as we give them the space and time to do so and closely listen to what they have to say. By slowing down, avoiding stress, processing negative emotions and choosing foods in their closest state to nature, you will dramatically improve not only your bloating but also your overall well-being.
Go on, try it. You body and mind will thank you and if you really want to take care of your gut, you can join my brand new Heal Your Gut Four Week Program HERE.
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