One of the most common topics I talk about with my clients is food that bloats you! Even though a food may be good for you and packed full of nutrients, sometimes they have unpleasant side effects. This is obviously not fun to see your stomach expanding, but it can also be physically painful for some people. This doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t eat these foods, but depending on where you are in your fitness journey, there may come a time where you choose to avoid them. For example, when I am in the final few weeks of a competition prep, or have a photo shoot coming up, I do not want to be eating foods that cause me to feel bloated and not looking my best. Any other day, if I really love that food, I may choose to eat it, even though I know I will not necessarily feel my best after. Here are some of the top offenders for bloating:
- Cruciferous vegetable – From my personal experience, these can be some of the worst offenders for bloating! Cruciferous vegetable include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower which all contain a certain kind of carbohydrate called raffinose. Our bodies do not make the protein to break down raffinose, so as it passes through our intestines it gets fermented with bacteria, which causes gas build up and bloating.
- Beans – Beans are a common cause for bloating as well because their outer shell is made from non-digestible fiber. This causes the same issues as cruciferous vegetables as it passes through your intestines. To cut down on this side effect, you can soak the beans overnight, which will help hydrate them and break down the starch.
- Onions – Foods like onions, leeks, and shallots all contain a carbohydrate called Fructan. This carbohydrate causes water to be pulled into your intestine, which can cause bloating and gas production.
- Dairy – If your body has a deficiency in an enzyme known as Lactase, then your body has a hard time breaking down dairy. Dairy includes foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. If your body cant break these foods down, they pass through your intestines whole which causes water to be pulled into your intestines causing bloating, gas, and overall discomfort. Lactase production and intolerance to dairy varies widely from person to person, so while someone may just have some uncomfortable bloating, others may have severe cramping and diarrhea.
- Artificial sweeteners – These are found in A LOT of foods, like gum, mints, fruit juices, and baked goods. If your food label says “low calorie” or “sugar free” you can basically expect it to have artificial sweeteners in it. These absorb very slowly in your intestines, which can lead to bloating, gas, cramping, and sometime diarrhea.
I decided to go over some of the most common foods that can cause bloating, but everyone reacts to foods differently. You may react to these foods, you may react to others, or maybe you are really lucky and don’t react to any of them! If you think you’re having bloating, the best thing to do is start cutting out some of the most common offenders one by one. Once your bloating and gas seems to be improving, you can try introducing them back into your diet one by one until you figure out what if causing your symptoms. When you figure out what is causing your bloating, it may be best to avoid these foods so you aren’t having uncomfortable or painful side effects. Ultimately, everything is okay in moderation, but you want to feel your best too!