First up: Experiencing some bloat during your period is totally normal, per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. And bloating after you eat a giant bowl of pasta (some after two helpings of spaghetti bolognese last night) is usually nothing to worry about, says Rabia de Latour, MD, a gastroenterologist, assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health and director of endoscopy at Bellvue Hospital Center.
In other words, both of those kinds of bloating aren’t anything you need to “fix.” Oh and one more thing:
The whole idea that you need to de-bloat for summer? Total B.S. Your body is perfect the way it is, K?
The kind of bloating I wanna talk about isn’t just a puffy stomach. It’s often painful, it might involve diarrhea or constipation, and it happens at least once week (Not. Fun.) Sound familiar? These are all signs that you could have an underlying condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or lactose intolerance that’s causing bloating, says Dr. de Latour. The best way to find out is to book an appointment with a gastroenterologist so they can properly diagnose you.
If you do have an underlying condition, you’ll probably walk away with an IBS, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or functional bloating syndrome diagnosis, says Dr. de Latour. But don’t freak, they can all be treated or at least managed so you don’t have to deal with painful bloat forever.
With lactose intolerance and celiac disease, the main solution is to avoid the foods (so dairy or gluten) that trigger your symptoms. And for SIBO, it’s as simple as getting an antibiotic from your doc to get the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract back in check. If you have IBS which is most common in young women, BTW or functional bloating syndrome (which basically means you have bloating at least once a week for six months without any other diagnoses), sticking to a low FODMAP diet should help you feel better, says Dr. de Latour.
FODMAPs, aka fermentable, oglio-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols, are a group of carbs that aren’t well-absorbed by the GI tract, so they sit in your small intestine and pull in gas and liquid which can cause abdominal pain and bloating, explains Dr. de Latour. So if you have IBS or functional bloating syndrome (or think you might), you’re gonna want to avoid FODMAPs at all costs.
Some foods to steer clear of? Excess sugar, apples, onions, gluten-based foods, beans, watermelon, dairy products, and cauliflower.
Check out this page if you want a more complete list.
Now that we’ve got all that down, let’s get into some popular low FODMAP foods that won’t cause bloating, gas, or abdominal pain, plus a few that might actually help symptoms.
Bring on the blues. In addition to being low in FODMAPs, blueberries are high in vitamin C and vitamin K and can help protect your heart, says Wendy Leonard, RDN, founder of Rhode Island Nutrition Therapy.
“Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, as well as potassium. They’ve also been linked to lower cholesterol and improved eye health,”says Leonard. Shred ’em up over a salad instead of almonds (which are high in FODMAPs) and you’re good to go.
Looking to get some protein in? Chicken is a great op that won’t cause uncomfortable bloating, says Leonard. Just steer clear of chicken nuggets, which are typically breaded in wheat flour meaning they contain gluten (sorry!)
Cukes are loaded with water, which actually helps fight bloat, says nutrition expert Joy Bauer, RD, author of The Joy Fit Club. Basically, the more water you take in without fiber.
Opt for a bowl of oatmeal instead of your avocado toast if you’re trying to stick to a low FODMAP diet. Oats are packed with antioxidants called polyphenols which can help lower your blood pressure, adds Leonard.
Grapes can reduce gas and bloating, says Bauer.
Eggs are another easy way to get your protein in without bloat, says Leonard. But remember to mix in a dairy-free milk if you’re making them scrambled.
8: Lemon Water
Ok, so technically this is a drink, but it’s worth mentioning. Lemon juice is low in FODMAPs, so Leonard recommends adding some to a glass of water. It’ll help with digestion as well as provide vitamin C for immunity, she says.
This Korean staple is filled with probiotics that can help maintain a healthy gut, says Dr. de Latour. Try adding it to a bowl of rice or soup for an easy dinner.
Go ahead, have all the salmon, tilapia, and tuna you want. Fish is full of protein, not carbohydrates, so it’s a good low FODMAP option, says Leonard.
11: Spaghetti Squash
Pasta isn’t a good idea (unless it’s a gluten-free variety), but you can still get your noodle fix. Just swap in some spaghetti squash. It shouldn’t upset your stomach, and is high in vitamin C and beta-carotene, says Leonard.
Quinoa doesn’t contain gluten, so it’s the perfect grain to add to your bloat-free diet. It has high levels of two flavonoids associated with anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-depressant effects, says Leonard. Pretty cool.