How to reduce stomach bloating

I see many clients with a wide variety of digestive issues and like them you may also be suffering indigestion, heartburn, constipation, stomach pain, abdominal cramping, diarrhea or the most common issue; irritable bowel syndrome which usually includes all those symptoms and some more besides.

But the one thing that gets mentioned most often is - stomach bloating.

Read on if you would like to discover:
  • What causes stomach bloating
  • How to reduce bloating after eating
  • A simple, natural remedy to get rid of bloating and abdominal gas

Stomach bloating is a big issue for many people. Bloating can occur at any time and it can be uncomfortable or even painful. Admittedly there are many reasons why you may be suffering this particular digestive complaint but there is one thing that you can do to help reduce stomach bloating and I recommend this bloating remedy to virtually every client I see as the first step towards a life without bloating and pain.

It couldn't be more simple! If you want to reduce bloating after eating ...

.... chew, chew and then chew some more!

Yes that's all there is to it and here's why. Digestion starts in the mouth. It's where the food gets physically broken down by your teeth but it's also where it gets chemically broken down by the enzymes in your saliva; particularly the carbohydrates. When you think about it it makes perfect sense.  If you swallowed something whole you wouldn't be surprised if you got a painful, bloated stomach. You'd expect your digestive system to struggle. Yet the majority of us quite happily swallow whole pieces of food and then wonder why we become bloated after eating.

We eat far too quickly. We chomp, chomp, swallow and the food makes only a passing acquaintance with this vital, first stage of digestion.

If you eat too quickly and you only give passing lip service to chewing you essentially miss out this vital stage. The food hasn't been broken down adequately either physically or chemically and this can only cause problems further down the line; problems in the form of gas and bloating often accompanied by stomach pains or discomfort.

If you think of your digestive system like a factory; a production line with a specific function taking place at each stage along the line. The raw materials come in at one end, but they're all packed-up. The raw materials need to be separated out before you could possibly build anything with them. And so the first thing to do is to unpack them. If you didn't do this you'd hardly expect the factory to run smoothly.

Of course we do all chew our food we just don't chew it well enough. And it's usually the carbohydrates that we have difficulty with. Have you ever tried chewing spaghetti? I mean REALLY chewing it. Chewing it till it is indistinguishable in your mouth, broken down by your teeth and 'dissolved' by your saliva. It doesn't happen unless you take time to think about it. And usually we don't think about chewing because we don't appreciate the importance of it.

We eat mindlessly

In fact for many of us the time we don't think about food is when we are eating it!

It's not just spaghetti that poses a problem. Do you chew mashed potatoes? Or rice? Probably not. We generally swallow those things whole. What about soup or the ever-fashionable smoothie? Physically broken down? Yes. But not chemically broken down. So the carbohydrates are still in their complex form. They haven't been broken down in to simple sugars which are easily processed further along the digestive tract.

So your digestive system struggles. The 'food' begins to ferment in the gut and the result is gas and bloating that you would probably do anything to get rid of. I'm not suggesting you chew soup or your morning smoothie but slowing everything down will certainly help. Keeping food in your mouth long enough for the first stage of digestion to take place can make a huge difference to how you feel later on.

This all sounds very simple. A remedy for bloating that doesn't involve changing what you eat or taking medication. Chewing. Is that really all there is to it? Well ... no. There are other reasons why people experience abdominal bloating and I would always recommend being checked by your GP to rule out anything serious: coeliac disease, issues with the pancreas, gallbladder, liver, ovaries or a serious gastric condition such as Crohn's disease. Stomach pain and bloating may also be the result of a food allergy or intolerance, but for many people it is simply down to the fact that we eat too quickly.

Taking time to chew food well is something you can do in your own time, to improve your digestion and ultimately improve your health

We live in a society where little time is given to eating. This is unnatural. As a small child you probably ate slowly, chewed everything well and stopped eating when you were satisfied. That's how it should be. Of course modern life often dictates that our eating gets squashed in to a time frame that doesn't generally allow for protracted mealtimes and so you have probably been eating too quickly for most of your life. 

I know, when my children were small, I was as guilty as anyone of rushing them to eat quickly; waiting impatiently with the next spoonful before they had finished the last. I trained my children to eat quickly - because that's what I did. Food was often eaten on the run. And when you get in to that habit even when you do take the time too enjoy a meal your chewing is always going to be too fast. Sometimes people do take a long time to eat but they are simply taking time BETWEEN each mouthful rather than taking time OVER each mouthful. There is a difference. Allow the food to be digested in your mouth and you are much less likely to experience a stuffed, bloated stomach after eating.

Do you rush your breakfast; the most important meal of the day? Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you think about what you're eating as you eat it or is your mind on other things as you 'inhale' your food before dashing out/back to work/to get the dishes cleared? You may answer 'no' to those questions in which case you're heading in the right direction. But do you swallow food that's still recognisable? If the answer's 'yes' then try slowing down the rate that you chew; being sure that all the food in your mouth is liquid before you swallow it; because that could be all it takes to get rid of bloating for good.

Easier said than done eh? You've been eating to quickly for your whole life.

So how do change the habit of a lifetime?

The first step is to develop an awareness of what's happening when you eat; understanding the process of digestion will help you to eat more mindfully and therefore more slowly. And to practice. It takes three weeks of concentrated effort to develop a new habit but this is one that's really worth developing particularly if you're suffering from bloating and pain. Knowing that eating quickly could cause you to experience bloating and gas makes it so much easier to develop the good habit of eating slowly and chewing your food well.

Why not experiment? Go from one extreme to the other; eat something really quickly and see how you feel then eat the same thing the following day really slowly, chewing until it's liquid in your mouth and see how you feel after that. Bloated? Probably not. If you are bloated then I would recommend looking more closely at what you are eating as you may be intolerant to something such as cow's milk or wheat. You may be over-eating or you may be eating the wrong combination of foods for your system.

But for most people eating mindfully and chewing food well is all it takes to get rid of bloating.

It's amazing the difference chewing can make!

What else would help? Taking smaller mouthfuls so that the ratio of food to saliva improves. Chewing. Always putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls. Chewing. Thinking about what you're eating. Chewing. Stop eating when you are comfortably satisfied. Never eating meals in front of the TV or at your desk. Oh and did I mention? ... Chewing!

So why exactly does eating too quickly cause bloating? Well, for a number of reasons. First of all it's important to understand that when you chew not only are you beginning to digest your food in your mouth so that it's in the right form when it arrives in the stomach and small intestine but you are also sending a message to your stomach that food is on its way.

In fact this process begins as soon as you anticipate the food in front of you, even before you've taken a mouthful. Just thinking about the flavour and smelling the appetising aroma will cause you to salivate. And as you salivate and then begin to taste and chew your food your stomach will respond; preparing to accept the food that it knows is about to arrive.

This process takes time so if you bolt your food your stomach won't be ready to receive it, your digestion will suffer and you'll get abdominal bloating. You need to give your body time to create the right environment to digest your food properly; time to release enough stomach acid, digestive enzymes and bile. If food is not broken down properly in the initial stages of digestion (the mouth and the stomach) when it arrives in the small intestine it can cause a lot of problems including gas, bloating and acidity.

Basically the chemistry is all wrong. The particles of food are too large for the small intestine to cope with and so it begins to ferment, or cause inflammation that affects the lining of the gut, or be so unrecognisable that it's treated as an allergen.

None of this is good news. It can all cause that uncomfortable and painful abdominal bloating and it can all be reduced dramatically by chewing properly. The other factor involved here is that it takes a good twenty minutes for the brain to register that he stomach is full so if you eat too quickly you will probably eat more than your stomach can cope with.

So slow down your eating, pay attention to the sensation of fullness and stop eating when you feel comfortably full rather than stuffed

In this way as you take the pressure off your digestive system you'll naturally eat the amount that your body needs; probably a lot less than usual. This is a great way to reduce abdominal bloating and a natural and healthy method of weight control too!  

You maybe, like I did, think that you do chew properly. Well here's some guidelines that you may like to follow just to see if it makes a difference. It's a good idea to practice this on your own so you can really focus on what you're doing. Once it becomes a habit it's easier to do it in company. It takes three weeks to develop a habit but once you have, the habit will stay with you!

How to get rid of bloating and chew your way to a flat stomach
  • Always sit down to eat
  • Take some time before you begin to really think about the food you are about to eat
  • Relax and consciously let go of any tension - really important if you're at work!
  • Always use cutlery if you can
  • Take small amounts in each mouthful
  • Put cutlery or food out of your hands between mouthfuls
  • Wait until you've swallowed before preparing the next spoonful, forkful ... or whatever
  • Chew slowly so that the food gets plenty of time to be affected by the saliva
  • Chew some more
  • When you think you're ready to swallow ... chew a bit more
  • Notice how liquid the food has become compared without how it may have been in the past
  • Notice how that feels as you swallow
  • When you feel comfortably full. Stop eating!
Admittedly this is pretty extreme and it might take you twice or even three times as long to eat so you do need to make time for that. But there's a lot to be gained from making time to eat properly. Good digestion, a life free from bloating, a nice flat stomach ....

Often when we are developing new habits it pays to go from one extreme to the other so that when you relax about it you drift in to a happy balance somewhere in between; never fully returning to the old bad habit. If you practice eating in this way consciously you will find that, in time, it becomes unconscious and natural. And having a flat stomach free from bloating and gas will become natural too!

So there you have it!

It's simple!

Want to be free from stomach bloating?

All you need to do is CHEW!

If you want to read more about the benefits of chewing and how to get rid of stomach bloating you may be interested in the Viva Mayr Diet. 

The Viva Mayr Diet: 14 days to a flatter stomach and a younger you

However. And this is quite a big however. Assuming that your GP has ruled out any underlying conditions if you have been practicing this technique yet are still suffering regularly from abdominal pain and/or bloating you may well have a food intolerance and no amount of chewing is going to change that; in which case I would recommend that you have a Food Intolerance Test done to highlight which foods may be responsible. Good luck!

Oh! And one last thing. 

Is weight is an issue for you too?  

If so - Discover how a simple childhood belief could be affecting your weight. 

How to think yourself well

There's a lot to be said for thinking yourself well. By this I don't mean telling yourself you're fine, doing too much and ending up in a more serious condition. What I mean is that if you tell yourself that you are feeling better you probably will be. If you tell yourself you're feeling worse that will probably be true too.  

Whatever we focus on tends to grow so it makes sense to use your thoughts to your advantage.

Here's a little story to demonstrate what I mean. A few years ago when my son was nine he slipped and fell on the ice. The weather had turned very cold unexpectedly during the night and as he left for school in the morning, he ran down the path, his feet went from under him and he did a comedy (although clearly he wasn't laughing), feet-over-his-head fall. I picked him up, checked for breakages, of which there were none, kissed him better and sent him off to school.

When he returned at the end of the day I could tell that all was not well. He was tearful and just not himself. As the evening wore on he developed a high temperature but had no other symptoms; no headache, no sore throat, nothing, just a temperature and the need for lots of cuddles and a nest on the sofa. I used cold compresses on his forehead, gave him plenty of water and some children's Paracetemol but it had no effect. As the evening wore on he was still the same. His temperature was over 100.

What to do? Before I bundled him off to A and E I thought I would try one thing. My son has a very vivid imagination so I asked him to imagine that he was on a journey. I took him (in his mind) out in to the cold, frosty night. I described the crackling ice, the glistening treetops, the smell of the cold night air and how it felt as he breathed it in to his body; how wonderfully cooling it was. I took him flying over the rooftops, all the time suggesting his body was feeling more and more comfortable.

I described the twinkling stars and invited him to pick one that was just for him. One that would help him to feel well. I then brought him back to the comfort of the sofa. The whole 'journey' lasted no more than 15 minutes. When I checked his temperature it was normal. And it remained so.

His temperature was a result of the shock he'd had when he slipped on the ice so there was no infection present, but even if there had been the visualisation could still have helped reduce his temperature. Our minds don't make a distinction between what's real and what's imagination, so when he was imagining that he was outside in the cool air his body responded as if he was.

This story demonstrates how physical symptoms can respond to thoughts. And it's not just that we can reduce them. We can produce them as well. Have you ever listened to someone talking about head lice and started to itch? Or heard someone coughing and you've started to cough too?  It make you think doesn't it? Just to what extent can we prolong or reduce our symptoms just by the way that we think about them?

So the next time you feel a cold coming on instead of reaching for the drugs why not try a more thoughtful approach? 

After you've suffered the undoubted discomfort of snorting salty water and drinking the contents of the spice rack (see my natural cold remedies) you could give your nose and throat a virtual treat.

Use your imagination in any way that seems appropriate to you. You could imagine that you've shrunk in size and have traveled right in to your throat; see the roughness and the inflammation and imagine that you are soothing it with warm, liquid honey or cooling blocks of ice. As you breathe, imagine the air around you is a beautiful colour that heals everything it touches. You could even kiss yourself better. It doesn't matter. It's whatever seems right to you.

And as you go through the day try to think and talk positively. Put aside any 'woe is me' thoughts and replace them with the understanding that your body has the wisdom to heal itself and the message to yourself that you are returning to good health. Avoid phrases such as 'sore throat', 'blocked nose', 'feeling rubbish'. And instead tell yourself that your throat is healing, your nose is feeling clearer and you are feeling better all the time.