Bloating and I have had a very long, drawn-out relationship. It was with me during my high school years, through each dance competition and cheerleading practice. In college it accompanied me to most of my classes, not caring how much discomfort it was causing as I'd sit in the back of the classroom silently cursing its pain. As someone who was diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) at the age of 15, bloating has been one of those things that became part of my identity — but that doesn't mean I necessarily liked it.
Throughout the years I have tried a laundry list of things that I thought maybe could remedy the situation or bring some relief, if even momentarily: probiotics, drastic diet changes, meditation, acupuncture — you name it, I gave it a go. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to work for me and I was left not only bloated but also frustrated. However, after enough time had passed, I was finally able to figure out the four most important things that actually made a difference. Every body is different, but here are the four things that helped me overcome my bloating.
Drinking Lots of Water
As someone who is chronically busy or on the go, I tend to easily forget to drink enough water. Not only does water keep you hydrated and literally keep you alive, but it also flushes out toxins and helps you digest your food better. Now, upon waking, I try to drink a whole eight ounces of water before getting in the shower or having breakfast, and then another eight ounces when I get to my destination after my commute. If I am eating a fibre-rich meal, I will be sure to drink another 6-8 ounces before and after I'm done eating. If you are someone, like me, who easily forgets to drink enough water, carrying around a reusable water bottle can really help. One of my favourites is by a company called Proof — its reusable water bottles keep cold liquids cold for 24 hours and hot liquids hot for 12 hours, are made out of medical grade steel, and are customizable.
Moving a Lot Every Day
I have noticed that the more I stay still, the more bloated I become, which was easily noticeable since most of my work is done in front of a computer. As someone who is admittedly bad at keeping to a workout regimen and is obsessed with work, I try to disguise little exercises into my day that will keep me moving. For instance, I will try to walk for part of my commute or take a midday jog, even if it is just around the neighbourhood. If you are sitting long hours at your desk, the Gaiam Balance Disc is a very simple way to not only strengthen core muscles but also improve your posture. And for those days I am feeling a bit more motivated, I try to get a workout in.
Being Strategic About When You Eat
I used to think that as long as I was eating healthy, I could eat whenever I wanted — I was wrong! I finally realized the reason I was waking up extremely bloated every day was because I was eating tons of fruit before I went to bed, which can cause bloating as well as other digestive issues. To alleviate this, try to make sure you leave enough time between your last meal or snack and bedtime so you don't wake up feeling less than your best. What I do is try to eat fruit only before 5 p.m. and vegetables by 8 p.m. — anything after has to be a snack that is low in fibre.
Not Wearing Super tight Clothing
I recently realized that tight clothing and I sometimes do not get along. Surprisingly, tight clothing, such as high-waisted jeans and shorts, can put pressure on your abdomen and intestines, causing gas, pain, and bloating. If you notice that there is also a link between your clothing and your bloating, make a few easy wardrobe adjustments. I noticed that when I swapped out my skinny jeans for a baggier fit, I was able to also escape the dreaded bloat.