It’s easy to mistake bloating for actual weight gain. Bloating can be uncomfortable, unsightly, and make you feel as if you’ve put on excess pounds around your middle when in fact, all you did was drink a diet soda or eat a small pastry just hours earlier.
Though it’s common to experience bloating every once in awhile, there are tricks for manipulating your diet in a way that can help prevent or reduce bloating.
Here are seven foods that can cause bloating. Change the way you eat these foods to benefit from a flatter, more slimmer silhouette and less discomfort associated with bloating.
Alcohol works as a diuretic and can quickly lead to dehydration. As your body goes into survival mode to compensate for dehydration, your body will retain water and suffer bloating as a result. Stop drinking alcohol to benefit from the greatest results, or alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water to stay hydrated and lower the risk for bloating.
2. Cruciferous raw vegetables
Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and other cruciferous veggies are especially high in fiber and a complex sugar molecule called raffinose. Since the human body lacks the enzyme needed to digest raffinose, consuming these raw veggies can lead to severe gas and bloating. If cruciferous raw veggies are causing your bloating, try steaming these foods to soften their tough fiber.
3. Apples and pears
These fruits are high in fiber and fructose — both of which can cause digestion problems in some individuals. Eat apples and pears on an empty stomach before consuming other foods to lower the risk for fermentation and bloating. Alternately, try cooking apples into applesauce to weaken the fiber, or begin with smaller servings of raw apples and pears to build a tolerance to larger servings.
Mushrooms contain sugar alcohols known as polyols, which are difficult for the small intestine to break down, and can lead to gas and bloating. Those who suffer from candida yeast overgrowth are often particularly sensitive to mushrooms and experience worsened bloating when eating this nutritious fungi. If mushrooms are the culprit behind your bloating, limit your intake or try substituting with zucchini, which has a similar texture.
5. Artificial ingredients
“Diet” foods and foods labeled “fat-free” and “sugar-free” replace real sugars with artificial sweeteners and ingredients primarily made up of man-made chemicals. These unnatural compounds are difficult for the human body to process and digest, and cause gas and bloating before being converted into fat. Stay away from processed foods that contain artificial ingredients, and stick to eating vegetables, beans, chicken, turkey, and other whole foods that lack these unhealthy chemicals.
Dairy products are high in a naturally occurring milk sugar called lactose, which is generally difficult for most people to digest due to its inability to be absorbed by the small intestine. If you are lactose sensitive, or notice that dairy products are affecting your waistline, either cut back on dairy, or opt for dairy-free alternatives such as almond or coconut milk.
Onions contain fructans — a group of complex sugars that the small intestine is unable to digest. Since onions are packed with nutrients including fiber, vitamin C, and B complex vitamins, don’t omit this superfood from your diet. Instead, try sauteeing onions in olive oil to lessen digestive symptoms of bloating and gas.
If you continue experiencing bloating after changing the way you eat any of the above foods, talk to your doctor about developing a customized nutrition plan. Your doctor can help you identify your problem foods and create an individualized meal plan that can help you lose weight and stay trim.
Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers offer personalized weight-loss plans with consistent, professional support to help you reach your goal weight and maintain it. Contact us today for a no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on September 29, 2017