Irritable Bowel Syndrome comes with many painful and frankly, annoying symptoms which many of us suffer from on a daily basis. Combating these symptoms can be easier said than done and typically, it takes a lot of time for us to fully understand our own personal IBS journey to do so. In this article, we will be discussing everything surrounding bloating! A bloated stomach can be one of the more common and uncomfortable side effects of IBS, so we will be giving you our top tips for how to stop and prevent it.
IBS & Bloating: What Causes It?
For those of us who suffer with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (also known as IBS), we are no stranger to the bloated feeling in our stomachs. Along with common symptoms of IBS such as cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation, you also may find that your stomach bloats very easily. This can leave you feeling super uncomfortable – especially after eating a large meal or something that doesn’t agree with you.
But what causes it? Well, there are a few reasons for bloating being one of the common and widely reported symptoms of IBS. Medical professionals have stated that it could be due to an excess gas build up caused by short chain carbohydrates that ferment in the gut, this makes our stomachs to expand. If you are not new to the world of IBS, then you may have come into contact with the term ‘FODMAPS’, which is a group of sugars that are not completely digested or absorbed in our intestines. As FODMAPs move through our small intestines, they attract a lot of water and then, once they pass into our large intestine these same FODMAPs can be fermented by our gut bacteria. This is what produces the gas and makes our stomachs feel bloated and heavy.
How To Get Rid of Bloating
Whilst bloating is not a harmful or long term side effect of IBS, it can be extremely unsettling and some even describe it as a painful symptom of this illness. To prevent a build up of gas in your stomach, there are a few small lifestyle changes that can be made. Such as only having small regular meals, instead of larger portions. It’s recommended that avoiding eating in the day and then having a larger dinner before bed could actually exacerbate the bloating of your stomach. So, issuing yourself smaller, more controlled meals throughout the day will give your gut more time to digest and prevent swelling.
Exercise is key, especially when it comes to feeling bloated. Walking,light jogging or even cycling are a great way to improve your bowel function and aid your gut in healthy digestion. If you find yourself working from home or sitting down at a desk for a prolonged amount of time then getting up to move around every hour could really make the difference.
Fiber can be a contributing factor for prolonged bloating. If you suffer from IBS-C, then you may need a large amount of fiber in your diet and this may not be the best option to help you combat your bloating problems. If this is the case, we recommend talking to your doctor or a medical professional to advise on further steps to take which suit your specific condition. However, if you can avoid fiber in your day-to-day diet, then lowering your intake could prevent bloating.
Rushed eating can also exacerbate the symptom of bloating. By eating our food quickly, we don’t give our bodies enough time to fully digest, meaning that our stomach can feel heavy after. Try setting aside a good amount of allotted time to allow your digestive system to work, we recommend around 30 minutes.
Finally, stomach massages are great for bloating. Now, we understand that bloating can be painful for some people, so if it hurts to touch your gut, then we recommend against doing this. However, massaging your abdomen can aid your stool in moving along in your colon. As well as this, it can help relieve any feeling of tightness, pressure or cramping. Try rubbing in a circular motion lightly up to the right side of your stomach until you reach your ribs.
How To Prevent Bloating
Whilst all the recommended solutions above are great for getting rid of bloating, as IBS sufferers, we also have to consider how to prevent it all together. Here at Slightly Different Food, we always recommend speaking to your doctor or a trusted medical professional before taking any massive steps into treating your IBS. This is because symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome can also cross over with other illnesses such as Crohn’s Disease and it’s best to rule these out in the early stages. Once you have spoken to your doctor, you will have a better understanding of what IBS is, how to handle your own personal symptoms and which type you may be suffering with. Of course, the advice will differ from person to person and it’s important to figure out what works best for you. So, the first step to prevent bloating in the future is to bring up this symptom with your doctor. By knowing which type you have, they will be able to give you personalized advice and point you in the right direction.
But that’s not to say that you can’t complete some of your own research. There are some common food groups out there which mostly all IBS sufferers avoid. Starting to figure out which foods make you bloat and which don’t is a great place to start and good information to take to your doctor when it comes to your appointment time. If you are new to the IBS world and are looking for some recipe inspiration which will be kind to your stomach, we have a recipe page which can help you make some exciting and IBS-friendly meals. Split into Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, you can fill your whole week with new food ideas!
In addition, here at Slightly Different Food, we understand that the market for IBS friendly foods is limited. We specialise in making cooking sauces, salad dressings, condiments and general table sauces which are kind to gut and also make your regular meals all that more interesting.