Being bloated is no fun, and we’ve all been there. Whether it was an ice cream sundae bar or Chinese buffet, there’s been a time that we just ate too much and had to loosen the belt a few notches just to get some extra relief. However, bloating can happen for a number of reasons—some not related to food—and Matt Hoffman, FNP, clinical assistant professor with the Texas A&M College of Nursing, breaks down why you’re feeling uncomfortable and a little extra “puffy” in your midsection.
Bloating may feel different person-to-person, but it’s typically described as feeling full or larger to an uncomfortable degree. Generalized bloating can be throughout the body where the body is holding on to a bit more water than normal, but there is also localized bloating that can happen where organs have become swollen and are causing discomfort. “When someone feels bloated, it can be tricky because bloating is an umbrella term that can be used to describe the general feeling of tightness throughout,” Hoffman said. “Bloating and swelling can cause problems and be the cause of an array of other problems, so it’s best to know what kind of bloating we are dealing with.”
When you think of bloating, Thanksgiving dinner is probably one of the first things that comes to mind. Overeating is probably the most common cause of bloating, and there are tips to help you manage your portion sizes. “Choosing a smaller plate can help you eat less in a sitting,” Hoffman said. “Also, slowing down when you eat gives your body an easier time digesting the food, and it can tell your body that you’re full.”
Having A Food Intolerance
Typically, if someone is feels bloated, it is because of their food or water intake, but even if you haven’t eaten too much, you may have eaten the wrong thing. Certain food intolerances or sensitives to spicy or acidic foods can cause the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to have a more difficult time than usual. “An undiagnosed intolerance to foods can cause a lot of bloating,” Hoffman said. “The body is trying to break down the foods for the body to use, and a lot of gas can be the result of that work.” If you experience a lot of bloating, try keeping a food journal to track what you eat, when you notice bloating and the amount of discomfort you experience.