Most of us have experienced the feeling of being bloated, when your tummy is stretched, puffy and uncomfortable. It often happens after a big weekend or over a festive season. But for some people, bloating is more than an occasional inconvenience.
If your stomach or tummy often feels bloated, it could be due to:
- excess wind
- swallowing air (from talking while eating etc)
- Coeliac disease
- food intolerance
- irritable bowel syndrome
Excess wind and bloating
Cut down on foods known to cause wind and bloating, such as:
But make sure you still eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Read how to keep up your fruit and veg intake while cutting down on bloating.
Constipation and bloating
If you get constipation, take steps to prevent it with a fibre-rich diet, drinking lots of fluids and taking regular exercise. Even a 20-30 minute brisk walk four times a week can improve your bowel function.
Read about how to eat more fibre.
Swallowing air and bloating
Try not to swallow too much air. Don't talk and eat at the same time, sit down to eat (sitting upright and not slumped over), reduce the amount of fizzy drinks you consume, stop chewing gum and chew with your mouth closed so that you're not taking in excess air.
Food intolerance and bloating
Food intolerance can lead to bloating when:
- your bowel doesn't empty properly
- the food causes gas to be trapped
- too much gas is produced as a reaction to the food
The main offenders are wheat or gluten and dairy products. The best approach if you have a food intolerance is to eat less of the culprit food or cut it out completely.
Keep a food diary for a couple of weeks, noting everything that you eat and drink and when bloating troubles you most. But don't get rid of food groups long-term without advice from your GP.
Find out whether you should cut out bread to stop bloating.
Read more about food intolerance.
Coeliac disease and bloating
Coeliac disease is a common digestive condition where your intestine can't absorb gluten found in wheat, barley and rye.
Apart from bloating, if you have Coeliac disease, eating foods containing gluten can also trigger diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fatigue.
See your GP for a blood test if you suspect you may have Coeliac disease.
There is no cure for Coeliac disease but, once the condition has been diagnosed, switching to a gluten-free diet should help.
Read more about Coeliac disease.
Irritable bowel syndrome and bloating
People with irritable bowel syndrome often complain of bloating, especially in the evening.
The bloating of IBS doesn't seem to be linked with excess wind. It's thought to be down to erratic propulsion of contents through the bowel.
Read more about IBS and its treatment.
When to see a doctor
If your bloating symptoms persist, consult your GP to rule out a more serious condition. Bloating, and a persistent feeling of fullness, are key symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Now read what to eat to help your digestion.
Article provided by NHS Choices