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Years ago before becoming a mom, I was out at a party with a few friends. For some reason I had a brave moment and wore a really cute and tight black dress. Something I usually didn’t do because of always being bothered by bloating. Without exception my stomach would blow up like a balloon at the end of the night. I don’t know why I thought this night would be different. Because it wasn’t and it was in plain sight.
One of my friends was accompanied by her very drunk boyfriend. While we were leaving he got really mad at me for being out at a party while pregnant. I had the good fortune of this being near the exit where the music had already died down and we were surrounded by a crowd of people who could hear us. It seemed like everyone turned to look at me with very judgmental looks on their faces. Not one of my best memories
My closet those days consisted of clothes that accounted for this ballooning effect. Somehow that cursed black dress had slipped through the cracks. I did wear it again. Some people never learn.
Hot Water Bottle
Bloating might sound like a cosmetic issue, but if you’ve ever been bothered by it you know it can get quite unpleasant to even painful. Not to mention embarrassing! My best friend for years was my blue hot water bottle. It did offer some relief and since I was always cold, it was an obvious solution. But the hot water bottle never truly helped or prevented my issues.
I think I’ve tried every home remedy under the sun and some with the exact opposite effect. And some that were downright painful. Everything changed for me when I started paying real attention to my gut. Not just taking one herb or one certain vitamin. It was really about a holistic approach, which for me meant taking action on different fronts.
When you’re bloated you have excessive air or gas causing pressure in your body. It’s located in the stomach and sometimes up higher in your chest. Some people are also bothered by burping, flatulence, stomach pain, pain in the chest to name a few symptoms. It seems like just one of those things that happen, but there’s lots to be done!
7 Easy Steps To Beat The Bloat
I lived by Mark Twain’s ‘Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside’. This made me scoff at the idea of chewing. Mainly, because I dislike food that has gone cold, which forces me to eat quickly. Chewing to me was like wasting good hot food. And then I learned more about the importance of chewing. Not just the old saying that your stomach doesn’t have any teeth, but the actual process that takes place.
When you don’t chew properly, you are also eating too quickly. When you slow down and chew, your brain can send the proper signals and also let you know when you’re full to prevent you from overeating. A stomach that is too full is one that will bloat.
Effects of Chewing
By chewing you break down the food and these signals that are send to your brain will also allow for you to make digestive juices. You need these to break down the food properly. I can’t stress how crucial breaking down your food is. Without this proper break down it’s hard to absorb nutrients from your food. It’s taxing for your stomach since you don’t get the time produce the necessary stomach acid to assist with digestion. And partially digested food in your intestines will ferment further causing excess gas.
Just Chew It
Especially when you’re eating a lot of fiber in your diet from vegetables you need to break these down. Taking the time to chew is essential for your digestion and will prevent bloating. It really is as simple as that.
The health of your gut influences how you handle stress and stress has an influence of your gut health as well. When your microbiota (bacteria in your gut) are balanced you become more stress resilient. And when you’re less stressed out your brain is able signal your body to rest and digest. You can see how a vicious circle might emerge here. Especially, because during periods of stress we need to nourish our bodies even more and often end up eating junk.
Rest and Digest
You might have noticed that when you’re anxious and stressed your breathing changes. It’s possible to change this very quickly. Get your body back to that place of ‘rest and digest’ by controlling your breathing.
Take a Breath
Try it for 2 minutes twice a day. Breathing out twice as long as you breathe in. You can start with 5 counts breathing in and breathing out for 10 counts when you wake and before you fall asleep. This to reduce your stress and allow your body to digest. It will also help you slow down while eating so you can chew.
Although breathing prior to eating with kids might be a bridge to0 far.
3. Yin Yoga
Let me start by saying that I’m not a yogi. I used to be a dancer and what I do know is that especially after pregnancy our hips and pelvis floor has changed. Sometimes so much so that the symptoms you experience aren’t just aches and pains, but start to influence your intestines and organs. I’ve seen postnatal women experience a disproportionate amount of discomfort in their gut area, which has to be connected to the physical changes they have gone through due to pregnancy.
Yin yoga is a more slow paced form of yoga, which holds the poses longer and will allow you to breathe through some of the discomfort. As my yin yoga teacher would say ‘comfortable discomfort’. And it really is. It releases tensions you might not have noticed before.
Peace and Quiet
I love this type of yoga for two reasons. As moms life has a tendency to get hectic and finding peace and quiet is rare. During yin yoga the peace and quiet abounds and it’s not always easy. Nevertheless it’s so good for your nervous system to get into this rest and digest state through breathing and holding poses.
Move your Bloat Away
In addition, the poses in yin yoga focus a lot on the hips and pelvis area. Releasing tension here is so great for your overall wellbeing and helps with beating the bloat. It will also get you back to better alignment and improve your posture so you prevent the bloating from the perspective of your anatomy.
This is really something to give a try!
4. Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds are pretty amazing when it comes to your digestion. The little fennel seed has the ability to relax the muscles in charge of your digestion. This relaxation is also helpful when it comes to relieving the pressure caused by bloating. Fennel gets rid of gas and indigestion. There are many more benefits to daily use of fennel like balancing your hormones, stimulating your body to burn fat and helping your body remove waste products.
In my experience fennel is not the biggest needle mover, but more of an assistant in the whole array of measures you take. Adding a tablespoon of the seeds to a cup of hot water and letting it steep for 5 minutes is a great daily tea to drink with a preventative effect. The smell is already very soothing.
Amp it Up
What I would often do was add more punch to the fennel tea by adding a cinnamon stick, which also has the ability to relieve bloating and gas. If you want a more powerful effect, the best thing to do is to chew on 20 seeds more or less. You can keep doing this with an hour interval until you get relief from the bloating. The other route would be to get fennel essential oil.
5. Essential Oils
This is an area I have been studying a lot lately. The more I learn about essential oils, the more there is to fall in love with. Essential oils are highly concentrated oils retrieved from distilling, tapping and/or cold pressing flowers, plants and herbs. These oils are very fragrant and possess a lot of benefits for your overall wellbeing.
More and more attention is being given to the potency of essential oils that have been used for centuries to heal, cook, clean, and even as skincare. Wit many things these days, when positive claims are made they get blown out of proportion and a lot of subpar quality products emerge. To be honest I don’t think it’s possible to sing the praises of essential oils enough.
Importance of Quality
When it comes to quality I do want to warn you. For a little 5ml bottle of rose essential oil for instance, approximately 10kg of rose petals are distilled! So if you come across such a bottle for a just a few euros, dollars or other currency you can probably conclude the quality will be lacking. Price of course is not enough. There are other indicators to look out for:
- The Latin name should be included on the packaging, in the case of roses that would be rosa damascena
- You want there to be a statement that you’re dealing with a 100% essential oil, which means it isn’t mixed with other products
- Packaging should be darkened glass since some of the oils are sensitive to light and also oxidation can be an issue
- When the country of origin is added you know the manufacturer is also targeting more knowledgeable customers since the quality will vary depending on location
- Look at statement about either organic growth or gathering plants from the wild as this is also an indication of superior quality
- Finally, ask questions and compare
How to use it?
Please be mindful of the potency of essential oils. Around the internet often the advice is given to just put a drop of essential oil in your water and drink that. I’ve been naive enough to do this with certain oils I should not have ingested and I can tell you it’s not a walk in the park when you do this! Think the unpleasantness of bloating times 100!
Never use plastic bottles since these oils can break down toxins in the plastic. Not what you’re after. What you should do is always use glass when you add a drop to your water. And less is definitely more in this case.
I have found that ginger oil worked best for me when I needed immediate relief. I’d either put a drop under my tongue or a drop in a glass and then drink at least 0.5 liter afterwards. Another great option is a drop of peppermint essential oil. You can compare this one drop to drinking 28 cups of peppermint tea! So again less is more and the reason why I only ingest the essential oils as pain relievers.
6. Bone broth
When you struggle with bloating it’s actually a sign of underlying issues. Elimination diets can really help determine what is triggering you. But often I find people already know what triggers them. In my case one of the biggest culprits was cheese. Eliminating cheese helped, but didn’t solve my issues. Now that I’ve taken care of the underlying problems I can have cheese in moderation without crazy bloating.
One of these days I’ll write an ode to bone broth. It’s an ancient tradition that has been receiving more attention. I remember drinking my grandmother’s bone broth as a young girl in the Caribbean. Nothing would energize you like her bone broth that had simmered for a day or two.
Get to the Root
The collagen and gelatin that get released from these long simmering times are healing for the lining of your gut. It will also help reduce these sensitivities that trigger you, reduce inflammation and also support the good bacteria in your gut. What I like most about having bone broth is that it’s easily digested so you can absorb all the nutrients, which is mostly a great mineral boost. And it also energizes you immediately.
Do It Yourself
Again be mindful of the quality of bones be it fish, chicken, beef or other source of meat. If you can’t find a reputable source to buy your bone broth from, it’s best to make it yourself and find a quality organic butcher in your neighborhood. All you need then are onions, maybe carrots, grass-fed butter and lemon juice to make the most basic of broths. Let it simmer for approximately a day and have a cup a day. There are some really great recipes and books out there if you want to experiment.
My love for kimchi is strong. Like really strong. And when it comes to getting to underlying causes of your bloating, kimchi has your back. This amazing fermented cabbage is a popular Korean dish containing beachu cabbage, ginger, radish, onion, chili peppers and fermented seafood, but the variations are endless.
Kimchi contains probiotics, the good bacteria your gut needs to function optimally and the food to allow these bacteria to survive in your gut. These good bacteria will help your digestion and also relieve excess gas. A study in 2011 found that adding probiotics to patients with bad gut problems eased their bloating when taken daily for 8 weeks.
Add Kimchi to Your Diet
The easiest way to add Kimchi to your diet is to have a tablespoon daily. Sometimes I add a little plate as an appetizer or I’ll add some to the salad dressing. You can buy it at Asian specialty stores or make it yourself. You can download my vegan version right here, which is one of the flu-free recipes.