It’s entirely normal to experience abdominal swelling. Your belly may seem huge and nothing like it normally does sometimes, after meals. This is not cause for concern.
What’s going on? Have I suddenly piled on a few extra pounds? How long will this uncomfortable feeling persist? This sensation can be bothersome – and it’s due to several factors. However, if you follow a few simple guidelines you can alleviate your troublesome tum. Below, find some things to incorporate into your diet to help calm the swelling.
What are the causes of abdominal swelling?
Eating too quickly
Some people think that if they don’t shovel their food in as quickly as possible, they’ll never feel satisfied. Just the opposite is true, though! Because it takes the brain 20 to 25 minutes to receive signals of satiety, you will continue to be hungry. When we eat too quickly, we swallow air. That air ends up stored in our abdomens, where it causes pain and irritation.
Slow down and chew your food properly. If not, you’re not allowing the enzymes in your saliva to break down your meal. When you eat too quickly, your food ferments in the intestines.
What can I do to avoid eating so quickly?
Try this tip: begin your meals by serving each dish one at a time, starting with a salad. Toasting bread, for example, requires you to chew slowly and this will ensure that your food is broken down well, little by little.
Drop the fried food!
Anything that contains a lot of oil in its preparation – battered food, fried potatoes, casseroles and stews – should be limited. Oils are fats, and fats are harder for the body to digest. They tend to stick around for a while in our stomachs, which can cause swelling.
Tips and tricks: Cook your food on a griddle or in the oven. Steam rather than fry. Consider, for example, that olive oil penetrates foods less. If you have to fry something, it’s always better to let it sit on a paper towel for a little while and let that excess oil get absorbed by the paper rather than by your stomach.
Too much bubbly? Cut the carbonation.
When your tipple of choice is carbonated, your belly fills with gas. On top of that, if your drinks also contain sugar, you’re consuming “empty calories”. Sure, you might feel a temporary boost of energy, but sugar and gas lead to weight gain. Don’t be fooled by the perceived virtues of carbonated water. Whilst it doesn’t contain calories, it may also produce a feeling of swelling in the abdomen. This effect is worsened if it’s drunk during meals.
Fibre – in moderation…
If we don’t eat enough fibre, we’ll be constipated. But you can get too much of a good thing! Eating more than the body accepts can result in just the opposite. Moderation is key – even with fibre. Too much will lead you down the road to diarrhoea and abdominal swelling. Not pleasant!
Look after your digestive enzymes
Do you eat a lot of foods that contain processed flour? Breakfast cereal, bread, biscuits, pasta – yes, even rice – will deplete the digestive enzymes released by your digestive system, as the foods we eat do not contain enzymes. This processed flour weakens your digestive powers. What follows? Abdominal swelling, gas and other uncomfortable symptoms. Bring on the whole foods!
The nutritional value of whole foods is off the scale. What do you get? For starters: vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Whole foods pack a punch. They also provide beneficial enzymes that produce positive effects for your digestive system, which in turn help fight abdominal swelling.
To avoid abdominal swelling…
- Fresh fruit! Fruit is easily – and deliciously – digested! Because of its fibre content and the large amounts of water it provides, fruit is your ally. Fruits have negligible amounts of fat, so they’re perfect options for dinner. Throw together watermelon with apricot pieces and cherries. Switch it up a bit. Try different fruits. Variety is the spice of life – and that applies to fruit, too.
- Salads don’t have to be boring. Combine lettuce, corn salad and spinach with fruit. Pineapple and papaya are both superb for digestion. For best results, add fruit to your dinner.
- Sprouts: soya, alfalfa, lentil are very healthy foods. They’re loaded with vitamins and minerals, but they’re low in fat. Chuck them in vegetable stews or soups. Add them to cold salads. You can even put them in wraps!
- Sauerkraut or fermented cabbage contains heaps of beneficial dietary fibre, thanks to the process of fermentation used when making them. Fermentation makes it much more digestible. It’s marvellous in salads. Too salty? Add water just before serving.
- Introduce yourself to horchata. This Spanish drink is traditionally made from made of almonds, rice, barley or sesame seeds. It’s lactose-free and traditionally served cold, without added sugar. Refreshing and pleasant, horchata also helps to prevent abdominal swelling.