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Bloating, which is nothing more than just excess air and gas trapped in your digestive tract, comes down to more than only the foods you eat. Some everyday habits could be the culprit for your tighter jeans and tummy woes. Feeling bloated is one of the most common stomach complaints around. Many patients even snap “bloating selfies” to show how much their waistlines fluctuate throughout the day. (We won’t blame you if you keep those off Facebook.)
6 Things Secretly Making You Bloated
1. You Love Chewing Gum
Bad news for Orbitz addicts: If your tummy is feeling the effects, it might be time to limit those minty-fresh sticks. Many people chew gum to keep them from eating between meals, but when you chew gum, you unwittingly swallow some air. That excess air intake can make your intestines feel like a balloon animal. Plus, most gums contain sugar alcohols, which can cause gas and bloat as well. Even sugar-free sticks generally contain sorbitol, which can cause a ton of stomach issues, bloating included.
2. You’re Scarfing Your Food
Here’s yet another legit reason to start eating more mindfully (aka: slowly). Digestion starts in the mouth, not in the stomach. With every chew, you not only crush each bite into more easily digestible bits, but that food mingles with saliva and specialized enzymes that break down your food upon impact. When you inhale your food, you largely miss out on that process, meaning your stomach has to work overtime to digest your food, leading to gas. Plus, you inhale air. Slow down and don’t forget to chew.
“Many packaged foods are fortified with a form of fiber that’s especially hard on the stomach.”
3. You Love Drinking Through a Straw
A colorful straw might make your morning smoothie even more Instagram-worthy, but it isn’t doing your body any favors. Every time you sip through a straw, air comes up before the liquid. Even reusable water bottles with built-in straws can cause problems. Sip straight from the lid during your next workout to save your stomach any unnecessary discomfort.
4. You’re Snoring Up a Storm
Do you feel bloated first thing in the morning? Then you are probably snoring or at least mouth-breathing in your sleep. Most people who suffer from sleep apnea also struggle with a.m. bloating. Tomorrow morning, look at your stomach. If it seems more significant than when you went to bed, consider scheduling an appointment with a sleep doc to figure out a way to curb snoring for good.
5. You’re Feasting on Fiber
Yes, fiber can help you feel full and lose weight, in addition to promoting heart health. However, before you down a bowl of fortified cereal, some chia seed pudding and a mega-serving of Brussels sprouts, take pause. Ramping up your fiber intake all at once can cause much bloating. Instead, focus on increasing it gradually, over some weeks. This will give your belly more time to adjust and produce the enzymes necessary to pass fiber through your system without trouble. You’ll also want to make sure you’re getting your fiber from whole, unprocessed foods like veggies, fruits, and whole grains. Many packaged foods are fortified with inulin (aka chicory root), a form of fiber that’s especially hard on the stomach.
6. You’re Stressed 24/7
What evil does stress not cause? While the hormones can aggravate your digestive system and cause gas and bloating, stress can also prompt people to rush through meals at their desks, skip much-needed bathroom breaks and suck in air during anxiety attacks. One way to cope: Try to manage your stressors using cognitive behavior therapy or relaxation therapy. Both can help prevent and relieve bloating.
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