You wake up and your stomach feels good, comfortable and flat. But as the day goes on, it feels like you could be six months pregnant because you’re so bloated! This is a really common complaint I get from clients. It’s super uncomfortable, especially if you’re not able to just switch into sweatpants and lie on the couch. When I help my clients with digestion, the most important part is to figure out WHY they’re experiencing the symptom so that we can fix the root cause (like food sensitivities, lack of enzymes, stress, or an imbalance of bacteria to name a few).
Keep in mind that some foods commonly cause bloating. If you experience bloating, it’s worth minimizing these foods, or experimenting with eliminating them for a short period of time to see if it makes a difference. Everyone reacts differently, so figuring out what works for you is important.
In the meantime though, there are some items that can help alleviate the discomfort. These are super easy to have in your pantry and can provide some quick relief..
Ginger Tea (or Ginger Chews)
You might have heard of this one, but ginger tea is perfect to have after a meal that’s made you feel slightly uncomfortable, or even just instead of having a sweet dessert. If you’re not a big fan of tea, there are some healthy ginger chews you can try. Of course, these still have some sugar in them, so go easy on how many you ‘chew’ 🙂. I like the brands Gin Gins (by The Ginger People) and Chimes.
Lemon juice helps stimulate your stomach to produce stomach acid. Bloating is often caused by low stomach acid which prevents you from properly digesting all of your food, so anything that increases stomach acid tends to help with bloating. I recommend you squeeze the juice of 1/4-1/2 a lemon into some warm or room temperature water and drink it upon waking.
Make sure that you use fresh lemon, not the packaged lemon juice because that has been pasteurized and therefore doesn’t contain the same enzymes and nutrients that are so beneficial for digestion.
Chamomile tea actually serves a dual purpose when it comes to bloating. Not only is it soothing on digestion, but chamomile is also soothing for stress – one of the main reasons for digestive upsets! I love having a passionflower/chamomile tea mixture called Nighty Night which is a slight sleep aid. Chamomile tea can also help with acid reflux too!
Fennel falls into a class of herbs called a carminative, which is intended to either prevent the formation of gas in the GI tract or help eliminate the gas. Fennel seeds have been used for thousands of years in India to help with bloating—they chew a small number of seeds after a meal, which is said to not only stimulate digestion but also freshen breath!
You could also use a fennel tea by steeping one teaspoon of the seeds in hot water for five minutes. Then strain the seeds from the tea and sip slowly.
Peppermint Tea (or fresh mint leaves)
I’m sure you’re seeing a pattern by now. There are lots of teas that can help with bloating, and peppermint tea in particular is great for IBS symptoms too! If you don’t have any peppermint tea on hand, you can also chew on a mint leaf. Peppermint acts as an antispasmodic and a relaxant in your GI tract, helping to relieve bloating.
Apple Cider Vinegar (unpasteurized)
If I’m at home, this is my go-to choice as it’s even easier than a cup of tea, believe it or not! All you have to do is take a little shot – about a tablespoon – of raw apple cider vinegar. You can also mix it with some water and your symptoms should resolve very quickly. Similar to lemon juice, the apple cider vinegar helps to simulate the production of stomach acid. I find this to be a stronger alternative to lemon juice.
Last but not least is the oh-so-trendy activated charcoal. Activated charcoal usually comes from coconut husks. There’s not a lot of research on its effect on bloating and gas; however, anecdotally many people swear by it. It’s thought that the charcoal binds to acids causing the discomfort. So that you can pass them in a regular bowel movement, essentially eliminating the bloating.
Activated charcoal comes in powder form as well as in capsules. Keep in mind that if you’re taking other supplements or medications, the charcoal will likely bind them as well, making them less effective.
If you try these remedies and still experience bloating, it might be time to think a bit more about what’s causing it. I find an imbalance between good and bad bacteria to be very common in my clients. A high-quality probiotic can help with that, especially one with acidophilus.
Mindful eating is critical too. How often do you sit down to eat your meal while multi-tasking? If your brain isn’t focused on eating, your body won’t do everything it needs to for digestion, leaving you feeling bloated. Make sure you turn off distractions while eating and then focus on chewing your food more than you typically would. This also helps make sure the food is properly digested.
Do you have any other tips for bloating? Share them in the comments!
Mandy King is a holistic nutritionist and the founder of HEAL, a wellness company that provides corporate wellness, 1:1 nutrition coaching and weekly meal planning. Mandy leads corporate workshops for Canada’s top companies, including Google, Facebook & PwC, and helps health-conscious clients looking to heal their digestion, boost their energy and shed excess weight through healthy, delicious food. A self-proclaimed gluten-free guru, all of Mandy’s recipes are gluten-free and Celiac friendly.