Although bloating is sometimes caused by serious medical conditions, it is most often caused by the diet and some foods or ingredients you are intolerant to.
An anti-bloating diet doesn’t have to be boring: Add 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard on 4 to 6 ounces of salmon and top with 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley for a quick and flavorful main dish.
Still, there’s no getting around the fact that bloating is uncomfortable, so you’ll want to avoid it if you can. Oftentimes, simple bloating diet tweaks can keep the bloating at bay. It’s important to know, though, that every body is different. “A food that causes bloating for your friend might not do the same for you and vice versa,” Doyle says. “That being said, there are some common culprits.”
But don’t throw down your napkin in surrender just yet. There is hope. With the proper bloating diet adjustments and simple changes in eating habits, it is possible to enjoy food and feel good afterward.
Sure, it can be awkward to talk about stomach issues and inflammation, especially when—dare we say—gas is involved, but we’ve all been there. If you’re looking for foods to get rid of bloating and gas, there’s a wealth of natural remedies that await in the grocery store. To help keep your belly bloat at bay, nutritionists recommend incorporating the following fruits and veggies into your bloating diet.
Your Bloating Diet
Don’t Eat Too Much at a Time
Being stuffed can feel like being bloated, but the problem is that you simply ate too much.
If you’re eating big meals and tend to feel uncomfortable afterward, then try smaller portions. Add another daily meal if necessary.
A subset of people who experience bloating don’t really have an enlarged stomach or increased pressure in the abdomen. The issue is mostly sensory.
A person with a tendency to be bloated will experience discomfort from a smaller amount of food than a person who rarely feels bloated.
For this reason, simply eating smaller meals can be incredibly useful.
Chewing your food better can have a two-fold effect. It reduces the amount of air you swallow with the food (a cause of bloating), and it also makes you eat slower, which is linked to reduced food intake and smaller portions
Sometimes gas and bloating can result when the bacteria in your digestive tract gets out-of-whack. Sumbal says that in these cases, the probiotics in certain fermented foods, like kefir, can help restore the bacterial balance in favor of the good guys to keep your digestion efficient.
You probably know that yogurt is a reliable source of probiotics, but perhaps you’re not aware that growingly-popular tangy kefir actually contains up to three times as many beneficial critters than does typical yogurt. And if you have trouble digesting lactose, kefir is nearly devoid of this potential tummy troubler.
Usually sold as a cultured dairy drink, kefir can be used in smoothies, as a buttermilk substitute in pancakes or something to float your cereal in. Just be sure to select “plain” varieties to lower your intake of added sugars.
At 95 percent water, these refreshing veggies are one of the ultimate ways to eat your way to better hydration. Since they’re super-hydrating, cucumbers “can help to flush the GI tract, increasing passage of food that may otherwise be resulting in constipation, gas, and bloat,” Fine says.
Cucumbers also offer the flavonoid quercetin, which can help reduce inflammation throughout your digestive system.
Yogurt also may keep your tummy happy. “Yogurt is pretty widely known for its positive impact on gut health,” Gillespie says. “Containing probiotics, which help to regulate digestion and improve overall GI health, yogurt can help prevent bloating.” Doyle suggests looking specifically for the words “live, active cultures” on the label when shopping for probiotic-rich foods. Also, opt for plain varieties, as added sugar may also contribute to bloating.
Kefir, a fermented milk drink, also contains probiotics, according to an article published in October 2015 in Frontiers in Microbiology, so it may, too, help flatten your tummy.
AVOCADOYou definitely need some sodium in your diet when you’re putting in all those sweaty miles on your bike, but for some people, eating too many salty foods can lead to bloat-inducing water retention. That’s why it’s a good reason to nosh on plenty of potassium-rich foods like avocado. “Sodium sucks water into your cells, and potassium pumps it out so it may help de-bloat you,” Sumbal says.
Adults should aim for 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day, but most people don’t get nearly that much. Potassium heavyweights include avocado, potatoes, bananas (duh!), legumes, spinach and winter squash. Avocados work well at any meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and contain healthy fats that keep you feeling full.
“Celery—not to be confused with the celery juice trend!—is one of the best foods to reduce bloating because it’s naturally high in water,” Fine says, at 95 percent.
Water-rich celery does more than just add some easy crispy texture to your salads; it also has diuretic properties and 104 milligrams of potassium in every 6-calorie crunchy stalk. And similar to cucumbers, celery’s flavonoids (including apigenin) have been proven to be anti-inflammatory, according to a study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
Bananas help fight the bloat and discourage water retention because of their potassium content. “Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte that is important for regulating sodium levels in the body,” Doyle says. “Therefore, eating potassium-rich foods can help decrease water retention.” In addition to bananas, you can find potassium in acorn squash and dried fruits, such as apricots, prunes, and raisins, according to the NIH.
Most people should be adding more fiber to their diet, but after eating the indigestible carbohydrate, gas and bloating can be a side effect, especially when you are not used to eating a lot. “The gas occurs as a byproduct of fiber digestion, but consuming water can help by encouraging the movement of fiber through your digestive system,” notes Sumbal. Of course, drinking water is a great way to get the liquid you need to help better digest that lentil salad, but you should also be consuming water-rich foods like oranges, cantaloupe, berries, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Sumbal adds that another reason to stay hydrated with liquids and watery foods such as oranges is that the body tends to store water when it’s in a state of dehydration as the salt-to-water ratio becomes unbalanced and the body holds on to any extra fluids until the balance is restored. And this can be a recipe for additional bloating.
With 271 milligrams of potassium per cup, this is one veggie definitely worth stocking up on one of the best foods to reduce bloating. But its belly benefits don’t stop there.
“Asparagus contains asparagine, an amino acid that acts as a diuretic. It’s also rich in prebiotics, the food that good bacteria [probiotics] in your gut feed on, which leads to better gut health,” Batayneh says.
If you’re feeling stretched out after a meal, do yourself a favor and reach for a steamy mug of mint tea. “Oils in peppermint including menthol can help relax your GI muscles to relieve spasms that cause discomfort and your stomach to bloat,” Sumbal says.
She suggests steeping fresh peppermint tea leaves since the anti-bloat oils can be lost during the processing that occurs when mint is dried and then finely ground to stuff into tea bags. You can also toss fresh mint leaves into salads or mix with fruit.
Whether you get your dose in marinara sauce or soup, add tomatoes to your diet to reduce bloating. Tomatoes contain high levels of lycopene. That antioxidant has been shown to have a wide variety of anti-inflammatory and de-bloating effects, per a review in the journal Annual Review of Food Science and Technology. Pro tip: Cook them to unlock way more lycopene than raw, though.
And as a bonus, these ruby red fruits are potassium superstars, Fine adds (at 292 milligrams per medium tomato).
Healing Foods to Try
The goal of a Bloating Plan is to optimise digestion, manage excess gas, heal inflammation, reduce abdominal pain and ensure the levels of “good” bacteria outweigh the “bad”. The following foods are useful additions to your diet:
- Add lean protein to each meal or snack. Try some of these combinations: salmon with leafy greens and quinoa or rice; eggs with tomatoes; fruit sprinkled with nuts and seeds. If eating animal protein, look for organic or free-range options.
- Choose cold-pressed oils, such as olive oil, sesame seed oil.
- Get plenty of fibre from non-starchy vegetables, flax seed and fruits. However don’t eat an excess of fruit – the high fructose (fruit sugar) content mean that fruits ferment in the intestines, creating unpleasant gases and bloating.
- Get essential fats from nuts, seeds, oily fish, coconut oil and olive oil.
- Drink water, green tea, lemon juice and herbal teas. Avoid all fizzy drinks, including sparkling water – you don’t want to add more gas to your system.
- Choose non-gluten grains: rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, tapioca.
- Try yam, soy, chickpeas and anything with gluten-free flour.
- Replace cow’s milk with rice or oat milk, or try goats’ or sheep milk – they contain casein, which can be a problem for some, but they are worth a go all the same.
- Use dairy-free spreads: nut or seed butters, or coconut butter.
- Ground flax seed, fennel, fenugreek and aloe vera all help to soothe the gut.
- Increase your intake of filtered water to 2-3 litres per day.
- Culinary herbs such as sage, papaya and pineapple are antiparasitic and so help balance good and bad bacteria in your digestive system.
- Garlic and caprylic acid are antifungal, so also help with bacteria balance.
- Following an alkalizing diet can be beneficial – the diet includes vegetables, green juices, protein powders and whey protein.
Bonus Tips to Get Rid of Stomach Bloat Fast
- Eat a banana every day. The potassium it contains helps prevent bloat. “When potassium is low, the body retains extra sodium and holds on to water,” says Bauer. Other potassium-rich foods include tomatoes; mushrooms; dark leafy greens, like spinach and Swiss chard; and fish like salmon and halibut.
- Try probiotics for bloating. Sometimes bloating can be caused by an imbalance of the bacteria in your intestines, especially if you have been taking antibiotics to treat, say, a urinary tract infection or sinus infection, explains Sita Chokhavatia, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Valley Health System in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Probiotics can help restore the bacterial balance, but not all brands have proven that they work: Bifidobacterium infantis is the only probiotic for bloating that studies show relieves GI symptoms a Northwestern University review found. Dr. Chokhavatia recommends trying a two-week course to see if it helps. (Try
- Spoon more yogurt. In related news, seek out those specific probiotic strains in yogurt if you prefer to eat your dose. Check labels to find one that contains bifidobacteria. “Some studies show that these bacteria can reduce flatulence and bloating,” says Dr. Quigley. (Fage Total Greek Yogurt and Activia both contain bifido.)
- Contract your abs. “Many people aren’t actually bloated at all; they’ve just developed a habit of relaxing their abdominal muscles and contracting their diaphragm, which makes them look and feel bloated because their stomachs are sticking out,” says Brennan Spiegel, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Learn to contract your abs instead. Imagine someone is about to punch you in the gut, and pull your belly button in toward your spine. Practice contracting your abs for five to 10 seconds several times, being sure not to hold your breath. Once you get used to the feeling, remind yourself to do it periodically throughout the day so that it becomes a habit, and you won’t look or feel as bloated.