Having a bloated or swollen stomach is something many of us experience and, when your digestion isn’t feeling at its best, it can impact your overall feeling of wellness. Eating is an activity to be enjoyed and, to help ensure you do, here are some simple lifestyle practices you can put in place to stop feeling bloated.
Whilst bloating is a normal bodily function, there are times when bloating can be a sign of an intolerance or allergy to certain foods.
Visit your doctor if bloating is severe, if you are bloated all of the time or your bloating is also accompanied by any other symptoms such as nausea, stomach pains or even blood in your stools.
If you find that rushing through a meal whilst trying to finish a piece of work leaves you uncomfortable and bloated, there’s a reason. When we’re stressed, our body’s fight or flight mode kicks in, releasing the stress hormone cortisol, which puts a pause on digestion.
Plus, looking at screens – whether phone, TV or laptop, can all keep your body in a state of stress which will increase digestion problems.
Essentially, you can’t be stressed and digest at the same time. With busy modern lives, we often find ourselves grabbing food on the go, eating quickly, and not giving our body the chance to prepare for digestion.
It’s time to give your digestive system a chance to prepare for the food it’s about to receive.
Before eating, take five deep breaths. Look at your food, smell it. Whilst eating, chew each mouthful and don’t prepare the next mouthful on your fork until you’ve finished swallowing the current one. Give yourself time to eat a healthy, nutritious meal – after all, food is there to be enjoyed, so aim to devote allocated time to eat peacefully.
Our guts are said to play a huge role in everything from mood through to immunity, and from energy levels to digestion, so prioritising your gut health could be the key to giving your body and mind the boost it needs. Guts contain trillions of bacteria – good and bad, which together make our gut microbiome. Feeling bloated or having a bloated stomach can be a sign of an unbalance in this microbiome.
To give your gut microbiome a little help, ensure you eat a colourful, varied diet. Aim to incorporate lots of plant-based foods including wholegrains, legumes, fruit and vegetables. You could also try incorporating fermented foods into your diet such as kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut or yoghurt, as well as a daily probiotic, said to help boost good gut bacteria in the gut naturally.
There are also lifestyle factors that can wreak havoc on your gut health, such as chronic stress, which will leave your digestion feeling less than healthy. Implementing techniques, such as breathing exercises or meditation, to combat everyday stressors could help you here.
Eating in tight and/or high waist trousers can place external pressure on your gut, making symptoms worse. If you can, loosen trousers whilst eating, or if you’re in the right environment, eat in looser bottoms with an elasticated waistband. Eating in comfortable clothes makes mealtimes meal times far more enjoyable.
If you do experience discomfort after eating, a herbal tea for digestion could help ease symptoms. There are a number of plant-based remedies, which can help including mint, such as Three Mint.
Hot water is also a wonderful medicine and a great cleanser. Additionally, including Three Ginger also helps to boost metabolism, invigorate your digestion and cleanse your digestive system.
Cutting down on poor quality fatty foods, such as meat, and dairy and refined sugar, is also a great way to give our livers some much-needed TLC.
There are several different yoga positions you can get in to ease trapped wind; a key cause of bloating. Try getting on all fours, and whilst taking a big breath in, round your back. On the exhale, push your lower back down to the ground and lift your head towards the ceiling.
Holly Huntley (Pukka's Herbal Education Specialist) adds that certain yoga postures also give emphasis on elimination via the lungs, ‘Include backwards and forward bends that open the chest to stimulate the kidneys and lungs’, she says.