Helping Seniors Live Healthier Lives

Meals Leaving You Bloated? 3 Tips For Addressing Discomfort After Meals

Gas and bloating after meals is not an uncommon problem, but when it becomes a frequent occurrence you need to determine the underlying cause. Making simple changes to your diet can often alleviate minor gastrointestinal problems.

Change How You Eat

Eating two or three large meals can make gas and bloating worse. It might be easier on your digestive system to eat smaller meals more frequently. You should consider is the timing of your meals, some people find eating early or late in the day, especially near bedtime, causes problems. Try eating your largest meal in the middle of the day when you are more active. Your meals earlier and later in the day may need to be lighter, not only in size, but in your food selection.

Select foods that are easy to digest for breakfast and dinner, such simple carbohydrates and lean proteins. Light, simple carbohydrates might include potatoes, rice, or bread. If you are going to eat complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat pasta or bread, or oatmeal, this is better in the middle of the day. Bacon, sausage, pork, and beef can be heavy and difficult to digest. Try using sausage or bacon made from chicken or turkey to replace traditional pork products for breakfast, and eat poultry or fish for your evening meal. Eggs are also a good source of lightweight protein.

Avoid Certain Foods And Beverages

Sometimes it's not how much you eat, but what you eat that might cause bloating and gas. To determine if a specific type of food is the culprit, you might want to try an elimination diet. This usually entails eliminating certain groups of food for a week and slowly adding them back. Try starting by removing dairy, fat, gluten, and cruciferous vegetables. Problems with lactose or gluten intolerance often causes gas, bloating, or other gastrointestinal problems.

For some people, even modest amounts of fat can cause problems if their gallbladder is not functioning properly or their intestines are malabsorbing fats. Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli, frequently cause gas and taking digestive enzymes before eating them can help. See if you notice any improvement in your symptoms during the week of eliminating these foods. The following week, try adding one group back into your diet and evaluate how you feel. If you do not notice any problems, add in the next group the following week, and so on.

The beverages you drink can also contribute to bloating. Keep carbonated beverages to a minimum or eliminate them. Acidic beverages may also lead to problems. Many beverages contain high amounts of acid, such as coffee and some fruit juices. If you must have coffee, try drinking a single cup in the morning and having water for the rest of the day. When drinking any fluids try to take small sips as opposed to large gulps. This will reduce the amount of air you ingest, which can further reduce gas and bloating.

Consider Other Problems

If you have tried various changes to your diet and retail medications to alleviate or prevent gas and nothing is working, it is time to speak with your doctor. Chronic gastrointestinal problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease could be a culprit, especially if you have other symptoms. You may need to see a gastroenterologist for a thorough evaluation and possibly diagnostic tests, such as an endoscopy or colonoscopy to determine if there is damage or inflammation in the gastrointestinal system.

It is also important for other conditions outside of the gastrointestinal system to be evaluated. Bloating may not come from gas, but could be excess fluid in the abdomen or changes in organs within the abdomen. For example, an enlarged spleen or liver can make you feel bloated even after eating small quantities of food. Women should be cautious about blaming unexplained bloating on a gastrointestinal problem. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer is often caught in the latter stages because it can have vague symptoms, such as bloating.

Fortunately, most instances of bloating after meals is caused by eating certain foods and can be manged with dietary changes. In rare cases, frequent bloating could be a sign of an ongoing problem.