Bloating has been an issue for me ever since I was in college. That's 20 years of feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed and isolated, upset, and frustrated because I had no idea what was causing it.
I've seen doctors, gastroenterologists, naturopaths, and chiropractors and have had millions of tests done — no one could figure out what was wrong. Now at age 41, I finally feel like I have complete control over my bloating. Through a lot of reading, research, and personal trial and error, I have finally discovered the five daily habits needed to prevent bloating.
I Say No to These Foods
Ditching dairy was my first step toward relief, but it didn't cure me by any means. I tried giving up gluten for 10 years, but then realised it wasn't the gluten causing issues. It was the lack of fibre causing constipation.
It wasn't until I gave up dairy, processed carbs, and sugar that my digestive system felt happy. I haven't had dairy in almost four years, and I can tolerate the occasional and very small amount of bread, pasta, dairy-free ice cream, or baked good, but if I have more than a few bites, I'll balloon up within an hour.
I Skip Breakfast
I discovered intermittent fasting in February 2017, and the 16:8 method has been my saviour in preventing the overeating that exacerbates my bloating. Having a shortened eating window to eight hours (and sometimes even shorter like six or four), has helped me get a handle on sugar cravings, let's me know what true hunger feels like, helps me honour my body's "I'm full" signals, and gives my digestive system the break it needs to function normally.
I Eat This Same Meal Once a Day
During college and many years after graduating, I was a junk-food vegan. French fries, pasta, chips, dairy-free ice cream, homemade vegan baked goods, and cereal made up my diet. I rarely ate any real vegetables, unless they were fried or on top of vegan pizza, and I didn't eat tonnes of fruit.
When I started eating a huge salad for one meal a day, that's when I was able to get my fill of fibre, and stay regular. My go-to right now is massaged kale, shredded carrots, cucumbers, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, sunflower seeds, and marinated tofu. I also like to throw on some fruit like blueberries or sliced apples for added fibre.
I Take Probiotics
Every day, I pop a probiotic. I know they're helping prevent bloating because when I went away for a long weekend and didn't take them, I noticed a difference.
I Fill Up My Water Bottle This Many Times
My 500 ml water bottle is always by my side, and I fill it up four times a day. If I don't get at least 2 litres every single day, I can feel my digestive system going out of whack by the end of the day. Another thing I've noticed is that drinking a tonne of water can lesson the bloating effects of eating sugar or processed carbs.