Beat the bloat

Get rid of bloating by cutting out fizzy drinks and foods that cause wind. Sit down to eat and take regular exercise.

Most of us have experienced the feeling of being bloated, when your tummy is stretched, puffy and uncomfortable. It often happens after a big weekend or over a festive season. But for some people, bloating is more than an occasional inconvenience.

If your stomach or tummy often feels bloated, it could be due to:

Excess wind and bloating

Cut down on foods known to cause wind and bloating, such as:

  • beans
  • onions
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • sprouts
  • cauliflower

But make sure you still eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Constipation and bloating

If you get constipation, take steps to prevent it with a fibre-rich diet, drinking lots of fluids and taking regular exercise. Even a 20-30 minute brisk walk four times a week can improve your bowel function.

Swallowing air and bloating

Try not to swallow too much air. Don’t talk and eat at the same time, sit down to eat (sitting upright and not slumped over), reduce the amount of fizzy drinks you consume, stop chewing gum and chew with your mouth closed so that you’re not taking in excess air.

Coeliac disease and bloating

Coeliac disease is a common digestive condition where your intestine can't absorb gluten found in wheat, barley, oats and rye.

Apart from bloating, if you have Coeliac disease, eating foods containing gluten can also trigger diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fatigue.

See your GP for a blood test if you suspect you may have Coeliac disease.

There is no cure for Coeliac disease but, once the condition has been diagnosed, switching to a gluten-free diet should help.

Read more about Coeliac disease.

Food intolerance and bloating

Food intolerance can lead to bloating when:

  • Your bowel doesn’t empty properly.
  • The food causes gas to be trapped.
  • Too much gas is produced as a reaction to the food.

The main offenders are wheat or gluten and dairy products. The best approach if you have a food intolerance is to eat less of the culprit food or cut it out completely.

Keep a food diary for a couple of weeks, noting everything that you eat and drink and when bloating troubles you most. But don't get rid of food groups long-term without advice from your GP.

Find out whether you should cut out bread to stop bloating.

Read more about food intolerance.

Irritable bowel syndrome and bloating

People with irritable bowel syndrome often complain of bloating, especially in the evening. The bloating of IBS doesn’t seem to be linked with excess wind. It’s thought to be down to erratic propulsion of contents through the bowel.

It can help to cut down on fatty or high-fibre foods. Peppermint tea or capsules and probiotics have also been reported to help ease IBS symptoms.

Read more about IBS and its treatment.

If your bloating symptoms persist, consult your GP to rule out a more serious condition. Bloating, and a persistent feeling of fullness, are key symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Now read what to eat to help your digestion.

Page last reviewed: 21/06/2014

Next review due: 21/06/2016

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Comments

The 10 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

rebeccalouisec22 said on 30 September 2013

This is useless! I have been to the doctors plenty of times about being bloated whenever I eat, and they don't seem interested as to find out why or help stop it! They just advise to eat healthily, which I do, doctors need to do more than they already do, fed up of meeting terrible doctors!

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ALBERT169 said on 05 September 2012

Wouldn't it be a good idea to at least refer to "other" reasons for feeling bloated, such as when it might be a symptom of ovarian cancer?

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MarcoD said on 01 January 2012

I suffered bloating and winds for nearly 5 years, now. I'm still in the process of checking which foods affect me most, but I can give a tip for sure: Vegan Lassi. That helps me a lot. I can go to the Indian restaurant, with that. Two glasses of vegan lassi during the meal (start and end with a swallow each and drink regularly), and I have no bloating. It's made with soy yogurt, water and a bit of sugar. I've learnt it at a vegetarian and vegan indian restaurant in Cardiff.

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Camels Toe said on 08 May 2011

The culprit for me was wheat. How come you don't mention it? I suspect it is the problem for a lot of people but it is all-pervasive and seen as healthy so no-one suspects it.
I used to get awful bloating, bad PMT, excess belly fat and awful acid reflux. Since I went gluten free, no more of any of that.

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Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 06 April 2011

Thank you Stinley,

The picture has been changed......

Kathryn Bingham, Live Well editor

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loopylou231 said on 02 April 2011

i feel bloated most of the times latley. i have pcos i eat regualr and i only weight 8 stone but feel bloated after every meal latley esp after my breakfast. am just guna see how it goes before i go to see the doc over it. i just hope it improves.

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Stinley said on 31 March 2011

I don't like the picture. It shows someone who is overweight, not someone who is bloated. Bloating can affect thin people as well as fat. In fact, if you do have a problem like IBS or Coeliac's then you may have problems absorbing food and be underweight.

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signer71 said on 09 February 2011

Bloating is sometimes the only symptom of ovarian cancer. Especially if a woman has a family history of ovarian cancer, she should be sure to visit her doctor to have a CA-125 test to rule out ovarian cancer before she decides she is simply eating the wrong foods. When my grandmother's doctor failed to run this test, instead believing that my grandmother had digestive issues such as those discussed in this article, valuable time was lost in treating the cancer.

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LightningTony said on 17 November 2010

I think it is crazy to advise people to cut down on the crucifers; cabbage, broccolli, colliflower, etc. They are amongst the most healthy food options available with a whole wealth of vitamins and minerals. The real problem is likely to be other things in the diet such as sugars, simple carbohydrates that turn rapidly to sugar (eg white bread and potatoes) and an excess of "bad bacteria" that combine with the healthy stuff to cause the gas. Cut down on any high glyceamic foods and drinks, get out and exercise, and eat even more green stuff! If you want to know more google glycaemic index (or the yanks spell it glycemic).

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brenmarjam said on 26 October 2010

I suffered a lot with bloating in the last 3 years, Recently i had a Bowel cancer screening and an abnormality showed up, As a result i had a colonoscopy in calderdale and kirklees hospital Halifax. the results were fine but i think since,my bloating has decreased and i'm careful what i eat, I also look and feel a lot better in myself.

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