(Disclaimer: I’ve been in Medicine for five years now: I’m not averse to talking about all things bowel and I’m pretty used to it. So forgive me any crudeness or lack of sugar-coated statements.)
It’s normal to be bloated and it’s normal to have a bit of wind. Sometimes, though, it gets a bit much, a bit inconvenient and a bit tiresome, especially for those with IBS. There are little ways we can all help ourselves and take responsibility for our tummies; here are a few of mine:
- Eat mindfully to reduce the amount of air you’re swallowing. (Translate: think about what you’re taking in, take your time and try not to be doing something else like watching television at the same time)
- Try not to chew so much chewing gum. Again, this leads to lots of air being swallowed.
- Reduce the amount of gluten and wheat you’re consuming. Unless you’ve got a diagnosed severe intolerance or Coeliac disease, you don’t need to cut it out completely, just cut it down. Remember: everything in moderation is key to most things in life.
- Reduce your intake of dairy. This is a common mild intolerance, so again, just have your milk, cheese and butter etc in moderation. Equally, you could try to reduce your milk intake by using non-dairy equivalents like soya or almond milk.
- Walk around a bit after eating to help digestion. Simple!
- Exercise every day! That’s 20-30 minutes of whatever you can fit in- including a short walk around the block. This needs to be part-and-parcel of your every day life. It helps keep the bowels active to aid digestion and helps you to pass wind.
- Limit your intake of windy veg. Classic examples of these culprits are: broccoli, cauliflower, lentils, beans, onions, cabbage, sprouts. Again- just reduce your intake of these if you’re going through a bad patch. Anyone with or without IBS will have significant gas after eating too much of any of these things! They contain great fibre, vitamins and minerals so just limit your portion sizes without cutting these things out (unless you’re following the FODMAP diet and you know you just can’t handle any of them).
- Eat a bit less in one sitting. If you think you’re still a bit hungry, wait 20 minutes and then re-assess. I find this really hard to do, but I know if I don’t overdo it in one sitting, my tummy is so very much happier for it! It really is worth it.
- Let it out. Farting is normal. Deflate the bag. Let it go (cue: Frozen). Better out than in!
Get to know your body. Over time, just come to recognise your own triggers. Everybody and every bowel is different. As they say in yoga: “listen to your body”– it often speaks pretty (and embarrassingly) loud and clear.
Everybody gets bloated- don’t be fooled by the flat-tummy brigade on social media: