Bloating and gas are annoying on the best of days. That overfull, clothes won’t fit feeling can easily derail an otherwise great day. During pregnancy, bloating is very common as the muscles of your digestion system relax along with all your other abdominal muscles. You may find that foods which occasionally gave you issues in the past are a major problem during this time, and other foods which were totally fine in the past are now giving you the dreaded bloat. So what can you do? Here are a couple diet, lifestyle and supplement tips to help ease bloating and gas.
Lifestyle Changes to Decrease Gas and Bloating
Keep track of which foods you are eating and how they make you feel. It is a good idea to get into the habit of food journaling when you become pregnant because you need to know you’re getting enough of all the food groups. By adding the additional element of how you feel a half hour to 3 hours after eating a meal or snack, you’ll be better able to pinpoint which foods are causing your discomfort. Once you have come up with a few suspicious foods, eliminate them one day at a time to see if the bloating subsides.
Sometimes bloating is caused not by what you eat, but by how you eat it. Swallowing a lot of air while you eat can cause air to enter the stomach and is usually released by the body by burping. So be mindful when you chew: take smaller bites, chew each bite slowly and thoroughly, and swallow carefully. Also, eating before a nap or going to sleep can also cause bloating, so try to avoid this.
Eating several small meals per day instead of 3 large meals will help you digest more efficiently and decrease the likelihood that your meal will cause bloating. The good news is that you’re likely already doing this naturally in your first trimester due to nausea.
Bloat Promoting Foods to Avoid
- Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale
- Sulphur containing veggies: onions, garlic
- Beans: Beans are an important source of folic acid which is especially important during your first trimester. Try taking Beano along with your digestive enzymes (see below) when you consume any bean products. They will help ensure that the components of the beans which cause gas are easily digested.
- Baked Goods: Your typical muffins, breads, pancakes and pasteries are made with refined flours which are easily broken down by the bacteria in our gut to produce gas and related bloating. By replacing these foods with whole grain options such as oatmeal, unrefined rice, or quinoa, you’ll be minimizing the fuel provided to these gas producing bacteria. I do however realize that during the first several months of pregnancy food aversions may lead you to eating more of these foods than you usually would, just try to choose whole grain versions as often as possible, and avoid any baked goods that are made exclusively with white flours.
Foods to Control Gas and Bloating
- Water will keep your digestion moving along which prevents constipation related bloating.
- Soluable and insoluable fibers are important for motility and regularity: flax seed, chia seed, psyllium husk, nuts and seeds, whole grain, fruits and vegetables.
- Fennel seed tea is amazing at helping the body to expel gas. Simply add 1 tsp of fennel seed to 1 cup of boiling water and let steep for several minutes. This fragrant tea is well known to be immediately effective, so you may want to drink the tea in a separate room from your family members. ; p
Supplementation and Herbal Remedies for Gas and Bloating
- Probiotics: By taking a good quality probiotic supplement, you ensure you have an arsenal of good bacteria to minimize the amount of bad gas-producing bacteria in your stomach. BioK is particularly high in good bacteria, try drinking ½ a tub before bed. BioK can be found in the fridge section of many grocery stores, and in pretty much every health food store. (Metro and Loblaws carry it in the organic milk section)
- Digestive Enzymes: By taking a full spectrum digestive aid you’ll be ensuring that your food is fully digested before it gets to the large intestine where bacteria can start to break it down and produce gas. I recommend Now brand, Super Enzymes. Take 1 with snacks, and 2 to 3 with meals depending on the size of the meal.
Pick and choose a couple of these tips to try. When you find some that work for you, keep them up even when you start to feel better because bloating can quickly re-appear. Stay tuned for more tips to help keep your digestion in tip top shape all throughout your pregnancy.