By Michelle Pearlman, M.D.
I often hear this complaint from patients: “I keep burping, and my stomach feels bloated after eating—like a balloon.”
It’s normal to have air in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. But, some people have more discomfort related to the gaseous distension of the stomach, small intestine, or colon.
How can you minimize the gas in your GI tract?
I recommend modifying your dietary habits and changing a few behaviors.
Minimize activities that increase air swallowing, such as:
- using straws
- sucking on candies
- chewing gum
- eating too fast
- ingesting carbonated liquids
Foods high in FODMAPs can cause excessive air production in the gut. FODMAPS are carbohydrates that produce gas when they’re broken down by your gut’s natural bacteria.
Limit high-FODMAP foods like these:
- foods high in sugar (including honey)
- fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha
You may be able to tolerate high-FODMAP foods better if you cook them down very well instead of eating them raw.
When trying to identify the particular foods and beverages that trigger excessive gas in your GI tract, remember that seasonings and sauces are also common culprits. They often contain garlic, onion, and other additives.
I also recommend limiting your intake of artificial ingredients and highly refined foods, like processed meats and packaged products with refined flours and added sugars. These tend to have a lot of preservatives and other fillers that can cause GI distress.
Where should you start?
Start a food diary — write down which foods and liquids you’re consuming and any GI symptoms that follow. Discuss your progress with your doctor. Together, you can review your food diary to identify your particular food triggers and develop a nutritional plan that works for you.
Dr. Pearlman addresses the symptoms of this uncomfortable and often embarrassing condition that can be exacerbated by stress and dietary changes. Read more.