To put it simply, bloating sucks. It's miserable to feel like you've got a boulder sitting in your stomach, often to the point that you can barely move. That's how I feel, at least, when intense bloating sets in. Everyone experiences different levels of bloating and for wildly different reasons, but there are some things you can do to prevent it from happening as often and some simple ways to knock it out once it hits you. We spoke with two doctors who have dealt heavily with bloating to see exactly what you can do next time it strikes.
What Causes Bloating?
The annoying pain of bloating can be caused by a variety of things, though periods are one of the biggest culprits. "Most women experience mild bloating a week or two before a period that is caused by normal cyclic hormonal changes," Sherry Ross, MD, an ob-gyn at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, told POPSUGAR. Fortunately, it cycles back out just as easily as it came.
Beyond that, bloating frequently results from issues in your diet. Ariana Greenwood, MD, a gastroenterologist with the Centura Health Physician Group in Colorado, explained that FODMAP foods are particularly problematic. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. "They are short-chain carbohydrates that, if poorly digested, ferment in your bowels," she said, thus causing you to bloat. High-FODMAP foods include things such as cauliflower, mushrooms, apples, and watermelon.
How to Stop Bloating Once It Starts
If you've got period bloat, getting up for a workout could be your saving grace, despite how uncomfortable you might be. "The feel-good and mood-boosting endorphins and serotonin help ease the pain and stress experienced during certain times of the month. Walking, jogging, Pilates, yoga, and swimming are excellent choices," Dr. Ross said. She also suggests drinking green tea, as it's a natural diuretic and can help you shed water weight.
Exercise can help ease the discomfort even for bloating that's unrelated to your period. When you're not feeling up to it (or if your workout isn't helping), Dr. Greenwood suggests trying an over-the-counter treatment like Beano or Gas-X.
Can You Prevent Bloating From Happening in the First Place?
Yes! You can usually keep bloating at bay when it's related to food. Dr. Greenwood reiterated that FODMAP foods should be avoided if they're causing you to bloat. Carbonated beverages are another one to cut back on or even cut out completely.
For additional relief, Dr. Ross recommends eating a healthy, balanced diet that's high in bloat-fighting nutrients like vitamins E and D, thiamine, and magnesium.