Nothing like stomach pain and bloating to ruin a dinner date or to make you uncomfortable after one of your favorite meals. Eating shouldn’t feel like a burden, but when you’re left feeling like a hot air balloon, it starts to feel like one.
Fortunately, understanding your body and how it reacts to certain foods, can provide the clarity needed to eat better and avoid stomach pain and bloating entirely.
What Causes Stomach Pain and Bloating
If you’re brushing off stomach pain and bloating as if it’s just the norm, it’s not. And if it’s something you’ve been ignoring for a while, let this be a sign to stop ignoring it.
After eating a balanced meal, you should feel energized and comfortable. Your abdomen may be slightly firm to the touch. The appearance of what looks to be like a tiny human is growing inside of you–not normal. (Unless, in fact, a tiny human is growing inside of you!).
Many people have taken to unhealthy and ineffective methods of reducing bloat by taking water pills, GasX or the like, or wearing something tight to compress the bloat. These methods are mostly ineffective and don’t even address the symptom, let alone the cause.
The causes are often undiagnosed and untreated food sensitivities, allergy, or intolerance. Food combinations (eating this with that) can also cause stomach pain and bloat. Lastly, serious digestion issues including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may also be to blame.
Food Sensitivities that Cause Stomach Pain and Bloating
When it comes to addressing your stomach pain and bloating, avoiding indigestion is the name of the game. An elimination diet can feel like a complete shot in the dark.
It’s recommended you conduct your own food sensitivity test before cutting out any of the following foods from your diet.
A general rule of thumb–if you feel uncomfortable or drained after consuming any of the following foods, you may have an untreated food sensitivity, intolerance or allergy.
Dairy can be hard for many people to digest because of a missing enzyme that breaks down lactose. Lactose intolerance will cause gas, stomach pain and bloating very shortly after consumption. In severe cases, a bowl of ice cream can cause some to vomit or diarrhea. Not exactly what you look forward to right after dessert.
Lactose is a sugar found in cheese, milk, ice cream, and yogurt. Other processed foods that contain the label mentioning “contains milk” may also have traces of lactose.
Lactose intolerance is a very common food sensitivity. Its often recognized at a young age but can also develop in adulthood.
The food sensitivity is due to the fact that some people have a shortage of enzymes required to digest, breakdown, and absorb lactose.
The human body hasn’t adapted to drink the milk of other animals, so everyone has a partial intolerance. Thus, dairy consumption, in general, is encouraged to stay at a minimum.
Especially sorbitol, many artificial sweeteners cause gas or bloat once they reach the large intestine. These sweeteners can be found in:
- Diet soda
- Sugar-free products
Indian food gets a bad rap. While I personally enjoy it, many people feel sick and bloated afterward. Spicy food can cause your digestion to overreact causing nausea or vomiting. It’s best to avoid spice in this case.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Additionally, this food sensitivity is more discussed than a lot of the others.
Gluten intolerances can be linked to all the same symptoms as egg intolerance but including anemia, weight loss, and brain fog. This food sensitivity is becoming increasingly common.
Soy, like gluten, can feel like a hidden ingredient because it’s in so many of our everyday foods and some you wouldn’t even expect. Just because you don’t eat Chinese takeout or tofu doesn’t mean you’re not exposed to soy.
Food and products that contain or often contain soy:
- Bean sprouts
- Bread crumbs, cereals, and crackers
- Breaded foods
- Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP), hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP) and hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
- Imitation dairy food
- Infant formula, follow-up formula, nutrition supplements for toddlers and children
- Meal replacements
- Meat products with fillers, for example, burgers and prepared ground meat products
- Mexican foods, for example, chili, taco fillings and tamales
- Nutrition supplements
- Sauces, for example, soy, shoyu, tamari, teriyaki, Worcestershire
- Simulated fish and meat products, for example, surimi, imitation bacon bits, vegetarian burgers
- Stews, for example, in gravies
- Vegetarian dishes
Reaction to a nut intolerance won’t be as immediate as a nut allergy but can be as severe. If you have a nut sensitivity you will notice inflammation, swelling, and possibly and scratchy or itchy mouth shortly after consumption.
These uncomfortable symptoms are often just the tip of the iceberg. Nut sensitivity can result in internal inflammation of the stomach lining and intestine.
It can even result in leaky gut syndrome.
You may not eat nuts by the handful, but nuts can be an ingredient in so many packaged and processed foods. Labels are your friend, read them.
Foods that Reduce Bloat
Stomach pain and bloat will likely influence you to change your diet. But with so many out there, it can be challenging to decide which way of eating best suits your body and lifestyle.
Habit has created a test kit that you can use right at home to establish the best way to eat according to your genes! Take the guesswork out of eating right with this one of a kind, science-based, at-home test.
Eating foods that you’re sensitive to or don’t have the enzymes to digest can disrupt your quality of life. It’s frustrating not being able to pinpoint what’s causing stomach pain and bloating!
Fortunately, there are foods that can temporarily aid in reducing unwelcomed symptoms.
Ginger – a natural anti-inflammatory, pop this herb into hot water for a soothing ginger tea.
Fennel – similar to ginger, this can be turned into a tea or eaten in a raw salad. Fennel is a natural diuretic and will aid in reducing water retention.
Bananas – The potassium in bananas can battle sodium being stored in your abdomen which causes bloating and water retention.
Lemons – The acidity and antioxidants in lemons are a great way to balance the ph levels of the digestive tract.
Lemons will also aid your GI tract in moving things along.
Whole Foods – Whole food sources are less likely to irritate your stomach or cause bloat and are great for overall health and digestion.
Once you’ve tested for food sensitivities and the best way to eat according to your genetic predisposition, removing foods that have caused you trouble for years will be easy. In addition, you’ll be able to expand your diet with whole foods you’ve never explored.
The transition into healthy eating has its perks. The most noticeable of all is a significant reduction in stomach pain and bloat!