15 Best Diet & Lifestyle Changes to Relieve Bloating
Ah, the joys of perimenopause! Sleepless nights, hot flashes that could melt glaciers, and the ever-present bloat that seems to defy logic and leggings. As a perimenopausal nutritionist, I hear you loud and clear. But before you resign yourself to a life of stretchy pants and endless gas jokes, let me tell you this: conquering your bloat is totally doable, even with your hormones doing their happy (and sometimes havoc-wreaking) dance.
Forget fad diets and restrictive regimens. The secret to de-bloating lies in simple, sustainable shifts that work with your body, not against it.
Also have a read through my previous blog post ‘Nurturing Gut Health: Understanding Changes During Perimenopause‘ where I go into more detail about the effect of hormone changes on the microbiome, along with some food and supplement suggestions to keep that area running smoothly.
15 Best Diet & Lifestyle Changes to Relieve Bloating
1. Reduce Inflammatory Food Groups
The most inflammatory food groups are gluten, dairy, alcohol, sugar and seed oils. Some of these food groups can be a major bloat trigger for many women, especially as your hormones fluctuate. There are loads of great swaps available now, so commit to removing the food group(s) you suspect you react to for a good 2-3 weeks. Find yourself a good alternative (read the ingredients labels and don’t buy anything you don’t understand!) and after a period of time, slowly re-introduce the food group and see how your body reacts.
Also be aware it’s not just your gut that might react. How’s your energy level? Your mood? Your skin? Subtle food intolerances can affect all of these, not just the gut.
2. Befriend Fibre (But Gently)
Fibre is our gut’s BFF especially in perimenopause. It keeps things moving smoothly and prevents constipation, a major contributor to bloat. But perimenopause can make our digestive systems a bit… delicate. So, introduce fiber gradually, focusing on low-FODMAP options like leafy greens, berries, and sweet potatoes.
3. Spice Up Your Life
Ginger, turmeric, and peppermint are your bloat-busting besties. Ginger soothes your digestive system, turmeric quells inflammation, and peppermint relaxes your gut muscles. Add them to your meals, teas, or even water for a flavor-packed bloat-fighting punch. Other culinary herbs like coriander, thyme and rosemary are also great for digestion.
4. Mindful Eating
We’ve all heard it before, but slow and mindful eating truly matters. It gives your body time to break down food properly, reducing gas and bloating. So, put down your phone, savour each bite, and breathe deeply between mouthful – your belly will thank you. Ideally, you’ll want to chew each bite of food at least 20-30 times.
5. Soak Your Grains
Soaking grains and lentils for at least 8 hours activates enzymes that break down starches and anti-nutrients, leading to smoother digestion and less bloating. After soaking, rinse them before cooking as usual.
6. Stay Hydrated, Stay Happy
Dehydration can make you feel like a deflated balloon, so keep that water bottle close! Aim for 8-10 glasses a day, but time them well (see #7). Add a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt and a squeeze of lemon or cucumber for an extra digestive boost. Bonus points for herbal teas like peppermint or ginger, natural bloat-busters.
7. Ditch Liquids at Meal Time
Sipping water between meals hydrates without diluting digestive juices, potentially aiding digestion and promoting satiety, while chugging fluids during meals can disrupt stomach processes and lead to bloating.
8. Avoid Sugar Alternatives
Some sugar alternatives, like sugar alcohols, are not fully absorbed by the small intestine and reach the colon, where they are fermented by gut bacteria. This fermentation process can produce gas and bloating, especially in individuals with sensitive digestive systems.
In general I suggest avoiding sugar alternatives as they can lead to increased sweet cravings. Studies suggest that consuming artificial sweeteners can paradoxically increase overall sugar cravings and intake.
9. Stop Endless Grazing
Grazing constantly throughout the day disrupts our natural digestive rhythm and keeps our digestive system in a perpetual state of work. This can lead to imbalances in gut bacteria and digestive enzymes, further contributing to bloating.
10. Move Your Body, Move the Gas
Exercise is a natural bloat-buster. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week. Walking, swimming, and yoga are all excellent choices. Bonus points if you can get some sunshine, as vitamin D plays a role in gut health.
11. Limit Fruit Intake
While fruits are healthy overall, some contain FODMAPs, sugars fermentable by gut bacteria. This fermentation can produce gas and bloating for sensitive individuals. Limiting these specific fruits, like apples and mangoes, can ease those symptoms by reducing gas production in the gut. Remember, it’s not about ditching fruit entirely, but eating in moderation and finding FODMAP-friendly options, like berries or melons, to maintain a balanced diet.
12. Sleep for the Gut Win
When you’re sleep-deprived, your body releases stress hormones that can mess with your digestion. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, and create a sleep-friendly environment.
13. Probiotic Power
Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in your gut and play a vital role in digestion. Consider incorporating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut into your diet. Here’s another blog post where I discuss and recommend specific probiotic brands ‘Nurturing Gut Health: Understanding Changes During Perimenopause‘
14. Listen to Your Body
This is key! Pay attention to how different foods and activities make you feel. Just because green smoothies worked for you six months ago doesn’t mean they are the best breakfast for your gut now. And remember, your body is unique, so what works for your best friend might not work for you.
15. Swallowing Air Along the Way
Rushing through our snacks or eating while on-the-go can cause us to gulp down air alongside our food. This trapped air gets released in the digestive system, contributing to bloating and gas.
Embrace a Bloat Free Perimenopause
Let’s face it, perimenopause throws a lot at us, and the ever-present bloat doesn’t have to be one of them. By embracing these simple yet powerful diet and lifestyle changes, you can cultivate a gut-friendly lifestyle that keeps your belly happy and your confidence soaring. Remember, it’s not about perfection, but about progress. What’s been the most useful change you’ve made to reduce bloating?
For personalised advice on nutrition and hormone balance during perimenopause, be sure to sign up to newsletter. If you’re struggling and would like help book in a discovery call with me to see how I might be able to help.
Remember, this information is for educational purposes only and shouldn’t replace professional medical advice. If you’re experiencing persistent bloating or other concerning symptoms, always consult your doctor.
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