Bloating is gas in your digestive tract that is produced when bacteria in your gut are breaking down certain foods. That is why you wake up with a flat tummy and when you start eating, the discomfort starts. You can probably name a couple of foods that cause bloating for you, but there may be some that you are not aware of. I will list a few foods to avoid below with suggestions of what you could eat instead.
You may have heard of FODMAPS, which stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. People with serious digestive issues, like IBS, are often advised to avoid FODMAPS but these foods can cause bloating for anyone. Your body is unable to completely digest these sugar molecules. They travel through your GI tract and reach your colon undigested, where the bacteria that live in your colon begin to ferment them. The fermentation can produce gas and bloating. I won’t bore you with a list of FODMAPS here, just google it (or ask me) to get a list of the foods that fall under this umbrella.
The following foods commonly cause bloating:
Raw cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous veggies, such as kale, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage, cause bloating and gas when eaten in their raw form. This is because they’re extremely high in fibre, which can be difficult for your body to break down. They contain raffinose, which is a sugar molecule that is a FODMAP. Cruciferous vegetables are very nutritious, so it would be a shame to avoid them altogether. If you steam these vegetables, or put them through a blender to make soup, you will break down the fibres which will make it easier to digest. Fermenting these veggies is another way to ease digestion, as the bacteria in the fermentation process have pre-digested them.
This is one you probably figured out yourself. Replace with water flavoured with citrus essential oils or cucumber.
Onions are high in FODMAPS and probably best avoided if you suffer from any digestive issues. Cooked is better than raw, or use onion infused olive oil to get the flavour.
This one you may not have seen coming. Generally considered very healthy, apples are very high in fructose, which is a monosaccharide (i.e.FODMAP). Replace with berries, grapes or bananas. Cooking the apple first will also help ease digestion.
Definitely worse in raw form, but also likely to cause issues when cooked so best avoided if you suffer from digestive issues.
Beans and legumes are a high FODMAP food because they contain a sugar molecule called alpha-galactosides. Eat meat, fish and eggs instead to get your protein fix. If you are a vegetarian, try soaked, sprouted or fermented legumes.
Sugar alcohols such as xylitol, mannitol and sorbitol are commonly used as low-calorie sweeteners in processed foods such as granola bars and cereal. Since sugar alcohols are made up of polyols, which are a FODMAP, they’ve been linked to promoting digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas and diarrhoea. Green leaf stevia and pure maple syrup are low FODMAP alternative sweeteners.
Mushrooms contain polyols which make them a high FODMAP food.
Additionally, mushrooms may aggravate digestive symptoms in those who have yeast overgrowth, or candida. As a fungal infection in the GI tract, candida can produce digestive symptoms such as bloating, which are worsened by foods that contain yeast and fungi. Use courgette if you’re after a similar texture or bone broth if you’re after a similar flavour.
Dairy is high in lactose, which is a milk sugar and causes gas and bloating. Our bodies require the digestive enzyme lactase to digest lactose. Unfortunately, many of us stop producing a sufficient amount of lactase beyond the ages of breastfeeding, which makes it hard for us to digest the milk sugar in dairy. Casein, the protein found in dairy, can also promote inflammation in the gut lining if you are sensitive to dairy, which can further produce digestive symptoms such as bloating. There are many milk alternatives available, but do check the ingredients are often full of sugar and additives. I like Mylk (available from Waitrose and Sainsbury’s).
Though bloating is mainly caused by the foods you eat, other factors can also contribute. Make sure to chew your food properly and don’t eat too fast to avoid gas. Movement and exercise will also help digestion. Avoid the foods mentioned above to beat the bloat but don’t forget these lifestyle factors.