What started out as what I thought was a tummy bug last year turned into months and months of extreme belly bloat, pain, and embarrassment. Multiple doctor’s visits and test after test came up completely blank. No one knew what was wrong. They thought it might be IBS, but they didn’t know how to get my belly bloat to go away.
I tried a low-FODMAP diet, I tried ditching gluten, and I tried only eating whole foods and increasing my fiber intake (not that I needed to with my fiber-filled vegan diet), but none of that really helped. My symptoms continued for a year.
It was basically through trial and error that I finally figured out how to feel better. Now, I rarely have any belly bloat because I make sure to do these four things every single day.
I used to have an issue with overeating. I work from home, and since I have complete access to the contents of my entire kitchen and no one around to make me think twice, I would eat all day long. I never felt hungry because I was always eating and basically always full.
When I started intermittent fasting in February 2017, my belly bloat improved quickly. I stop eating around 7 p.m. and I don’t eat again until noon the next day. Having 16 to 17 hours of fasting allows my body to digest fully and takes my mind off thinking about, preparing, and eating food — it’s been so freeing. I’ve learned to feel what true hunger is, I’ve stopped snacking all day, and now I eat until I’m satisfied, not uncomfortably stuffed. Not overeating is one of the main factors in me feeling less bloated.
I Drink a Lot of Water
After trying out the experiment where I drank a gallon of water every day for three weeks, I’ve learned the importance of hydration. I don’t drink 128 ounces anymore (because then I just feel like I’m peeing all day long), but I do aim to have about 80 ounces a day.
I drink about 20 ounces on the way home from my 5:45 a.m. CrossFit class. Then, during the day, I keep a glass mason jar by me at all times, and it’s either filled up with cold water, warm water (perfect when it’s cold), or hot ginger tea for when it’s really cold out.
The water fills me up so I eat less, and it also keeps me regular — both of which prevent feeling bloated.
I Quit Eating Sugar
So that overeating issue I talked about earlier? It mostly had to do with sugary carbs, treats, and one of my main food groups, chocolate. I had no willpower when it came to sugar, and it wasn’t until I overdid it on vegan Christmas sugar cookies last year that I realized sugar made me feel painfully bloated.
When I ditched sugar for the entire month of January, my belly felt amazing! I’m sure my sugar addiction was the cause of my digestive woes. So I cut down on processed sugar tremendously, and now when I want something sweet, I go for Trader Joe’s dried bananas or some fresh fruit. Not having it all the time really does make me crave it less. Don’t get me wrong; I still love to bake, but I halve the recipe or bake for an occasion so I get a taste but then share the rest.
This is another huge lifesaver. It can be so confusing looking at the shelves of probiotics at first. I just looked for one that didn’t need to be refrigerated and that contained Bifidobacterium infantis or L. plantarum, both good for combating IBS. I tried a couple but finally found one that worked: Ultimate Flora. I take the 50 or 30 billion. I love that I can travel with them and have just gotten in the habit of taking them every day with my lunch. When I forget to take them, I can definitely feel it, so I know they’re working!