We all know the feeling of being so bloated that you can hardly button your pants. As the day goes on, the gas gets worse and your stomach turns into rock hard bloat instead of rock hard abs - the worst. This takes a toll on the body’s digestion and your mental health - feeling good on the inside = feeling good on the outside.
There’s a difference between feeling full and feeling bloated. Sometimes we can eat a little too much at mealtime and feel like our stomach is at full capacity, but that’s not the same as when your body is having a hard time digesting and you feel like you’re about to burst even when you haven’t had anything to eat. Ever wake up feeling like you have a concrete block of gas in your stomach? That’s full on bloating. This happens when you’re eating the wrong foods at the wrong time and your body can’t digest the nutrients fast enough.
This can also lead to some pesky IBS-C symptoms, aka constipation. This can be incredibly uncomfortable and is quite unhealthy. Constipation is when the bowels sit in your digestive tract for too long and the body begins to reabsorb the toxic elements back into the bloodstream - yikes. Eliminating within 30 minutes of waking up is said to be a surefire way to know you've beat the IBS-C symptoms.
MY HISTORY WITH BLOAT AND IBS-C
I used to experience some degree of gas and bloating every single day. I never tried to do anything about it because I just thought that's how my body was supposed to feel after eating three meals a day. My bloating would be so intense throughout the day that I would have to unbutton my pants when I got behind the wheel and would have sharp shooting pains in my abdomen.
I also experienced some pretty gnarly constipation and would go days and days without eliminating (sometimes as long as a week). This, of course, added to overall discomfort and really took a toll on my overall health. Back then, my diet was not great. I had been a vegetarian for 10+ years and switched over to veganism about 1.5 years ago, but I was eating a ton of gluten, soy, processed sugars, processed foods, raw salads, onions, garlic, and drinking wayyyyy too much alcohol almost every weekend and hardly any water. I've since found in the last 6 months or so that these things all contribute to my bloat and IBS-C issues. I've eliminated these foods from my diet and can almost instantly feel the effects when I consume them. I talk about this more below, but taking the time to find out what foods your unique body is sensitive to is so, so important if you want to banish the bloat.
Since I've changed my diet and my meal routines, I hardly experience any bloat and I eliminate every morning within 20 minutes of waking which was completely unheard of for my body before. Food is truly medicine for the body, peeps! Now, there are times where I might overindulge or eat some of the foods that I eliminate on a daily basis. I am, after all, only human and sometimes a girl just needs a Justin's Peanut Butter Cup to brighten her day. But, by using these tips and tricks that I've listed below, I can banish the bloat and constipation more quickly and with more success than I did before.
TIPS FOR BETTER DIGESTION + BEATING BLOAT
- Drink lots of water. Every morning I drink 30oz of room temperature water with lemon before I do anything. On mornings where I’m feeling a bit more bloated I drink hot water with lemon. This helps detoxify the body and gets things movin’. Get yourself a large reusable water bottle (I use a 40oz HydroFlask) and make it a goal to drink at least 2-3 of those a day. Even if you're not feeling thirsty, drink that H2O.
- Read into your hunger cues. This has helped me a ton. Before, I would wake up and immediately eat my breakfast within 20 minutes. I felt like I had to because breakfast is “the most important meal of the day.” Right after I would finish an average sized breakfast of either oats or a smoothie bowl, I would feel so uncomfortably full and the bloat stuck around all day. These days, I don’t eat breakfast until I actually feel real hunger cues, which is usually up to 4-5 hours after I wake up. I'll have my matcha after I finish drinking some water - usually around 7:00-8:00am - and the coconut butter holds me over for awhile. It has helped my digestion a ton and helped relieve most of those pesky constipation symptoms I was experiencing before. By doing this, I'm giving my body the time it needs to digest and process before giving it more work to do.
- Look at your diet. This is most likely the number one cause of bloat and indigestion. A lot of us get stuck in certain food patterns and aren’t truly aware of the foods that our body is sensitive to. It takes a lot of trial and error, patience, and dedication, but it’s so worth it. I’ve found that onions, garlic, dairy, gluten, soy, processed sugars, and some nightshade vegetables do not agree with my system. I’ve eliminated animal products and gluten completely but occasionally have the other ingredients and can immediately feel the effects on my body. If you're interested in finding out more about food sensitivities, try an elimination diet or look into the Clean Program 21-Day Cleanse to reset your body. Experiment with eliminating one food (i.e. gluten) for a few days, add it back in, and then notice the effects. Maybe there aren't any, and that's okay, too.
- Take your time eating your meals. This is something I’m still struggling with. I grew up around family members who eat incredibly quickly, so it’s kind of engrained in my mind so scarf down my meals in no time. It takes a lot of mindfulness to slow down, be present, and really taste the foods you’re eating. Breaking down the food more before swallowing speeds up the digestion process. When I eat a meal a little too quickly, I immediately experience gas (burping) and I can feel my body working a little bit harder to digest the meal.
- Make herbal teas your friend. Drinking warm or hot liquids throughout the day, especially after meals, helps the body break down what you’re putting inside of it. It takes a lot more energy for your body to digest cold water than it does room temperature/hot water. I like to sip on licorice tea, peppermint tea, ginger/turmeric tea, or hot water with lemon.
- Lean more towards smoothies and warm, cooked meals. Whenever I’m trying to reset my digestive system after a weekend of overindulging, I avoid cold, raw meals like the plague. It’s takes your body a heck of a lot longer to break down a big salad than it does to break down a warm meal. I’ll still eat cold condiments such as kraut or kimchi, but I like the base of most of my meals to be warm. Smoothies are an exception here, though. I find that since the ingredients are already broken down, my body doesn’t have as hard of a time digesting them. If I'm going to eat a salad (because they are delicious), I try to have it for my lunch so my body has more time to break it down. I almost never have cold or raw dinners, as I find it takes a toll on my body and I will, most likely, wake up feeling bloated as heck.
- Move your body. Stagnant body = stagnant digestive system. It’s no secret that exercising makes you feel better all around. Even if you feel like the bloat is weighing you down, take a gentle walk and allow for the crud to move through you.
- Get some beauty sleep. Getting enough sleep is crucial for proper digestion. While we sleep, the liver is breaking down the nutrients from that day and preparing the body to function properly the next day. If your sleep patterns are all off or you’re only sleeping from 2am-5am, you’re not giving your body enough time to break down the food you ate the day before. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule makes a world of difference.
- Cut back on the sugar and alcohol. The hardest task of them all and one I’m still struggling with all the time. Sugar is more addicting than any narcotic on the market and is in virtually everything, making it so, so hard to avoid. Alcohol is a super social thing in our society and it can feel really isolating when you’re the only one not drinking in a group. But, these are moments where you can really tap into what you want to do, not what’s seen as socially acceptable. Not to mention, hangovers are brutal and it feels pretty dang nice to wake up and be able to function without a pounding headache and nausea. I get sugar hangovers, too.
- Give yourself a belly massage. This works wonders when I feel bloated or have cramps during my period. I use some clary sage essential oil and apply moderate pressure in a circle motion to my low abdomen (or wherever you're feeling the bloat the most).
TIPS FOR BEATING IBS-C SYMPTOMS (CONSTIPATION)
- Take a daily probiotic. This goes along with getting your gut bacteria in a healthy place. Include more fermented foods in your diet, as well, and you’ll find you’ll have a much more regular poo schedule.
- Drink lots of water. Noticing a pattern here? Water is nature’s best healer. Flush that poo out one sip at a time.
- Develop a routine eating and sleeping schedule. Schedules can get hectic and I know how stressful it can be when you’re running around and still have to get a meal in. But, if you’re eating dinner at 10pm one night and 5pm the next, it’s going to throw your body out of wack and it’s going to take longer to adjust. Try to meal prep as much as you can so you have stuff on hand for quick and easy meals. Same goes for sleep, try to get to bed by 10pm every night and avoid sleeping in too long.
- Ashwagandha. I put this healing plant in my matcha latte every morning and find that it speeds up the elimination process if I haven't already gone. You can also add a teaspoon to a smoothie, oatmeal, or bulletproof coffee.
- Eat more fiber. One of the easiest tricks in the book. Eat a tablespoon of flax meal at every meal, add more legumes into your diet, and get those veggies in!
Beating those pesky bloating and IBS-C symptoms really is about how much you're willing to change in your diet and eating patterns. Maybe it starts with simply drinking more water and incorporating a probiotic pill into your daily routine - you certainly don't need to do a 180 overnight. But, if you are experiencing some of the symptoms I talked about, my hope is you can take a few tips from this post and start feeling like the best version of yourself.
With love and light xx