Your Health How to beat bloating

Bloating is uncomfortable. It can make us feel like we have gained 10 pounds overnight and cause some gassy situations. What is bloating? How can we cut back on this frequent feeling of bloat?

Bloating is the feeling you get when you have abnormal swelling in your abdominal region, excess gas and perhaps a little rumble in your stomach. If these symptoms sound familiar, you have been or are bloated.

It turns out this issue affects more people than you might realize. About 25 percent of people in the healthy population reportedly experience recurring bloating. There are a few steps to take in order to reduce your risk.

First off, eat slowly. My mom used to tell us to not inhale our food and to not talk with our mouths open. It turns out this advice is not only great for using your manners but also great for your gut. When you talk with your mouth full and inhale your food, you allow lots of air to get in and you end up getting that feeling of belly bloat. Try chewing a bite of food at least 10-15 times before swallowing in order to make it more easily digestible.

Taking smaller bites may also make your body feel fuller faster. The need for more and more food will decrease and you will be OK having smaller portions at each meal. The benefits include saving yourself a few calories and easing after-dinner discomfort.

Additionally, eat right. Try to skip sugar free gum and candies. They tend to include sugar-free alcohols that can cause unpleasant gas. If you are noticing excessive gas, then fiber may also be to blame. Not getting enough fiber can cause constipation but getting too much can cause that feeling of digestive uneasiness. If you’re looking to add fiber to your diet, skip the fiber bar and go for something like carrots, chia seeds, oatmeal or berries.

Furthermore, women can be especially sensitive to bloating. Our bodies are prone to water retention at specific times during the month. We may feel puffy or gassy and excess fiber may not be to blame. One way to try to balance this hormonal shift is to eat more fruits and vegetables during this time and cut down on salt intake.

Salt intake is my weakness; potato chips, TV dinners and — did I already say potato chips? Especially when hormones are out of whack, cravings for salty foods and excess sugar arise. Salt promotes a bloated feeling and look to the body. Obviously the occasional potato chip is necessary and delicious — just maybe stop yourself after 10.

Any time you feel bloated you may want to lie down and veg out. That’s the worst possible thing you could do. Get up and walk. Get the digestive juices flowing while burning off some of those chips. After your walk, hold a plank pose for 30 seconds to a minute while holding your belly button in toward your spine and engaging your abdominal muscles. People with stronger cores do not experience bloating as much as those with weak ab muscles.

We all experience bloating from time to time. It’s uncomfortable and can make us lethargic. But by eating slowly, eating right and exercising we can combat those feelings and leave behind that bloated belly.

Rein is a professional writing and communication graduate of Southwest Minnesota State University. She graduated from Devanadi Yoga School as a registered yoga teacher.

Her column appears monthly in the Independent.