Medical Reasons Why You’re Always Bloated in Your Belly — Eat This Not That

Are you dealing with chronic belly bloat? “When someone feels bloated, it can be tricky because bloating is an umbrella term that can be used to describe the general feeling of tightness throughout,” says Matt Hoffman, FNP, clinical assistant professor with the Texas A&M College of Nursing. “Bloating and swelling can cause problems and be the cause of an array of other problems, so it’s best to know what kind of bloating we are dealing with.” Here are five reasons you’re always bloated in your belly, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.

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Eating more than is comfortable could lead to painful belly bloating. “Choosing a smaller plate can help you eat less in a sitting,” Hoffman says. “Also, slowing down when you eat gives your body an easier time digesting the food, and it can tell your body that you’re full.” 

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Sitting too much after eating can cause a bloated stomach. “[That’s why] I’ll often tell someone to go take a walk after lunch to help them to digest so they don’t feel so uncomfortable,” says Laura Manning, a registered dietician in the department of gastroenterology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “Exercise helps speed up your bowel transit and helps you to go to the bathroom more frequently.”

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Celiac disease or gluten intolerance could cause bloating, doctors say, as well as dairy intolerance. “When I think of malabsorbers, I think of patients who are intolerant to dairy, fructose (high fructose corn syrup), and/or sucrose (artificial sweetener),” says Dr. Chad Gonzales

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Stress can cause bloat, according to medical experts. “We know that the gut is bidirectionally connected to the central nervous system via the brain-gut axis,” says Ashkan Farhadi, MD, gastroenterologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. That’s why “when you’re stressed, you can have stomach discomfort and hypersensitivity.”

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“Everyone is a little bit different, and what causes bloating in one person won’t always affect another person,” Hoffman says. “It’s really just about learning what foods cause you discomfort and limiting them in your diet. Foods heavy in starches—such as beans, legumes and bread—can help you feel fuller longer, but they can also cause someone to feel bloated. If you notice a drastic change in weight or changes in your bowel movements—such as changes in color or consistency—you need to tell your provider that as well, as they can be signs of an underlying condition. If you ate too much and are having trouble digesting your food, then you know that was the likely cause of your bloating and cramping, but if it’s come on suddenly with a healthy diet, you should err on the side of caution and visit your provider.”

Ferozan Mast

Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan

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