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You’ve all seen it – fitness influencers posting before and after pics of themselves in the morning with their abs tensed and then another showing their distended, bloated bellies at the end of the day.
I get what they’re doing – they’re showing us they are relatable and that bloating happens to everyone, no matter how healthy you eat, or how much you exercise.
But the problem with this is they are potentially normalizing a symptom you might not want to brush off.
Then we have the other side of the coin where we’ve been conditioned to think that we’re meant to have a perfectly flat stomach all the time (#newsflash – we’re not!), and that a little bit of temporary bloating is cause for concern.
The truth about bloating is somewhere in the middle.
First off, what is bloating?
Bloating is a feeling of fullness around the abdomen.
What many people refer to as bloating is actually distention, which is an actual physical increase in abdominal girth.
They can, and often do, occur at the same time.
Bloating – what’s normal?
- Occasional bloating and distention after eating
- A bit of discomfort (i.e. ‘food baby’ feeling)
- Bloating that passes after a couple of hours
- Bloating that eases after going to the toilet or passing wind
We all get bloated from time to time – this is a normal part of the digestive process and can be caused by things like eating large meals or eating too quickly, drinking carbonated/fizzy drinks, not enough or too much fibre in your diet, FODMAP sensitivity, hormones, stress, smoking, medications and supplements… the list goes on.
Bloating – what’s not normal?
- Bloating after every meal or snack you eat
- Pain and/or nausea along with the bloating
- Bloating not associated with eating
- Bloating with recurrent diarrhoea/constipation or a sudden change in bowel habits
Red flags to look out for with any digestive distress:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Recurrent vomiting
- Rectal bleeding
- Symptoms at night
- Symptoms getting worse
- Severe symptoms
- Anaemia/low iron
- Family history of IBD or colorectal or ovarian cancers
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms alongside recurring bloating, then it’s time to see your doctor.
Tips to ease bloating
If you’re struggling with bloating, check out these tips!
And if you’re looking for a way to prevent bloating from happening in the first place, my program Plant Nourish, Gut Flourish is for you!