Tummy bloating – especially after certain foods

Many people notice that there tummy swells or feels bloated especially after certain types of food and particularly in the evening.  You may have noticed having to loosen your belt or top button of your skirt or trousers to accomodate the feeling.

First of all, you MUST see a doctor if you have any of the following in addition to the bloating…

  • any unexpected weight loss
  • other tummy symptoms – like tummy pain or lumps and bumps in your tummy
  • urine symptoms – like pain or passing blood in your wee
  • bowel symptoms – like a sense of urgency when having to go for a poo, blood in your poo, or a change in the way your poo looks
  • menstrual symptoms – like your periods becoming irregular or spotting in between your periods
  • sexual symptoms – like pain on deep penetration, vaginal discharge

If you don’t have any of the above and your symptoms have been going on for years…

Then it may well be that your body doesn’t tolerate certain foods very well.   Recent research shows that foods which contain certain ingredients (called Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols – or FODMAPs for short), produce a lot of bacteria and gas when digested by your body.  This results in tummy bloating, wind problems and other Irritable Bowel Syndrome like effects.  A good example of a high FODMAP food is brussel sprouts – we have all probably experienced our bellies bloating after eating them and subsequently passing lots of wind to the annoyance of others!

The low FODMAP diet

This diet is was originally developed in Australia by a dietician called Dr Sue Shepherd and a specialist doctor in gastroenterology called Dr. Peter Gibson.   75% of people do v well on this diet.  By going for a diet low in FODMAPs, you reduce the chances of your tummy becoming bloated.   If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a low FODMAP diet will help you too.  But for this low FODMAP diet to work, you have to be committed to cutting out (or heavily cutting down) on the foods in the high FODMAP list (even if you love them!).  When reducing high FODMAPs in the diet, it is important to replace restricted foods with nutritious alternatives and ensure that your diet is healthy and well-balanced.

However, once your tummy symptoms settle, then you can introduce back in a food from the bad list (that you love) to see if that one in particular really aggravates you or not.  Remember, not all people react to  FODMAP foods in the same way.  For example, the fructose in some fruits is not a problem for everyone.  The reaction to high FODMAP foods will vary according to the amount of the food consumed and the sensitivity of the particular indivudual’s gut. Some foods contain more FODMAPs than others.   And things like worry and stress may cause the bowel to become even more sensitive.

The good news is that the latest research shows that a low FODMAP diet can help improve symptoms in at least 75% of patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  So – it works, but ONLY IF you commit to it.  And it isn’t particularly hard to do once you’ve started it.  So, if you’ve got tummy bloating or Irritable Bowel Syndrome – try it and see.

To help you succeed…

  • Review the food lists to figure out what is good and what is bad – develop a grocery shopping list.
  • Don’t buy ‘ready meals’ because they will often contain foods high in FODMAPs – you can never be sure what’s in them.
  • Start reading food labels – DON’T pick up anything with corn syrup, honey, wheat, barley, rye and soy.
  • Cook your own meals from scratch – get some inspirational recipes from these websites….

In Summary….

  • Click here for the FODMAP FOOD LIST.
  • Reduce your intake of all high FODMAP foods for 8 weeks to see if this improves your symptoms.
  • If it does then you can reintroduce the different categories of high FODMAP foods one by one until you find foods that always tend to make your symptoms worse.
  • Print out the list and when you are introducing an item from the bad list – put a tick next to it if you are okay with it or a cross if it aggravates your symptoms.

Additional Resources

Reliable Good Books on FODMAPs and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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