Okay Okay, so if you’ve been around my world at all you know that I’m not a fan of restriction and deprivation when it comes to food. Yes, there are times and places for stricter protocols and eliminating certain foods, but overall a healthy body should be able to tolerate a well rounded diet. A diet of both foods that are nourishing for the body, and treats that bring joy to the soul.
BUT.. Coming off the holidays I know I’m not alone in feeling like my pants are fitting just a little tighter and my belly has been a little more uncomfortable the last few weeks. I definitely am known to indulge in some sweet treats. Plus with my birthday between Christmas and new year I definitely get treated!
So gaining a few extra pounds isn’t anything to be concerned about. Especially in the winter time. Just like other mammals, bears for example, we are meant to have more “meat on our bones” during this time of year. Don’t worry, as the sun begins to come back around and the earth begins to warm back up you will start coming out of hibernation and your body will calibrate to the weight it wants to be! (As long as you’re supporting your nutritional foundations and stress levels!)
But we aren’t meant to be uncomfortable as we move throughout the day. and BLOAT is UNCOMFORTABLE.
Bloat and gassy digestion are common issues in our modern world. Its almost accepted as normal because you hear about bloat so frequently from people all over, (tv, social media, work, etc). But just because something is common does NOT mean it is normal.
4 Reasons you might be bloated after meals (And the tips to change that!)
- You’re eating while distracted or on the go
- You’re not chewing thoroughly
- Too many liquids during meals
- Dehydrated – Cannot create saliva with digestive enzymes
Okay the first one: Eating while you’re distracted. Why is this such a big deal? Digestion requires your body and nervous system to be in a state of relaxation or “rest and digest” this is your parasympathetic nervous system. When your body is in a constant state of stress (go, go, go) it is unable to properly prepare to digest a meal and can’t process the food all the way. Stress and being in a sympathetic state impacts production of stomach acid and enzymes, it can impact the peristalsis in the GI tract.
What coes chewing have to do with it? Chewing begins the cephalic phase of digestion. The food is first mechanically digested through chewing and enzymes in our saliva. When you don’t chew your food 20-30 times per bite, the food is too large for your stomach acid and digestive juices to fully break it down. This can cause bloat and overall dysbiosis in the gut.
Drinking alot with your food? Yes this can cause bloat and improper digestion because too much liquid with meals will dilute your stomach acid and enzymes. Stomach acid and your stomach being the proper pH is essential to digest anything and everything you eat! Its advised to not consume more than 4 oz of liquid during meals and have any substantial amounts of water or other liquids 30 minutes before and after meals. This will keep your stomach acid and pH in the proper amounts for optimal digestion.
On the opposite side of too much liquid- Now lets discuss not enough! Dehydration can cause a myriad of issues in the body. If you’ve followed me on social media for any period of time you may recognize I joke about being a hydration influencer. Its not a joking matter though. Just about everyone I see in my nutrition practice is dehydrated and its not surprising. We need to replenish our water daily because a number of functions utilize water including the digestive system and body’s waste elimination. Your body cannot create enough stomach acid, saliva, bile, poop, or pee if its not properly hydrated. You can’t make soup without any liquid! Its recommended to drink at least ½ your body weight in oz of hydrating liquids each day. This is just a base number though, you should increase hydration with activity levels, time outside, altitude, etc. (And make sure to get some electrolytes with your water!)
I hope you can see how important our digestive enzymes and stomach acid are for our digestion! Stress management and proper care for our body’s foundations can make a big difference in feeling better and getting the most out of all the yummy food you’re eating! These 4 tips aren’t going to fix all of your digestive issues, especially right away on their own, but they sure can help get the boat (or bloat) turned in the right direction.
So to recap, Here are my 4 tips to avoid bloat:
- Slow Down. Take some time to take a few deep breaths before eating. Put away your phone and turn off the tv. Try to really be present in the moment.
- Chew your food thoroughly. Mechanical digestion begins with the food hits your tongue. Give your body its best shot at digesting this meal by giving it the head start it needs!
- Avoid sipping it up too much with meals (applies to all drinks, water, alcohol, seltzer, etc.), Stick to around 4 oz of liquid with meals.
- Stay Hydrated! You should be drinking at minimum ½ your bodyweight in ounces of water each day for best stomach acid and enzyme production.
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