If you suffer with a bloated belly, you'll know how uncomfortable the feeling can be. While eating a balanced diet is good advice, even 'healthy' foods can cause a problem for some.
"A lot of people think it's about how much you eat... but it's more about the foods you're eating and how your body is digesting those foods," says nutritionist Katie Cavuto. "You can have the best diet and exercise all the time, and still get that gassy, bloated feeling."
Try an elimination diet
If you experience frequent bloating it's worth trying an elimination diet. Try cutting out a certain food and then reintroduces it after a couple of weeks. Do this for one food at a time, reintroducing the first before you eliminate the next. Katie suggests cutting out dairy, soy, eggs, and gluten.
It can help to keep a food diary, noting what was eaten and how you feel after each meal. For it to work, you have to be aware of your symptoms and take time to actually think about what you're eating, says Katie.
While you're experimenting with an elimination diet, watch how you react to different types of carbohydrate. Fibre, which is a form of carbohydrate, can be hard to digest – and food that isn't digested properly is going to cause bloating. Fibre-rich foods that typically cause problems include beans and pulses and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
And cut back on sugar. "A lot of people are fructose-intolerant, and there's a lot of sugar is soda and processed foods," says Katie. "Sugar actually feeds the unhealthy bacteria and the yeast that can form in our digestive tract, which leads to increased bloating." Even 'natural' products like honey and maple syrup can cause a problem and should be consumed in moderation.
Improve your digestion
If you want to improve your digestion, chew your food more. "Digestive enzymes are released in our mouth, so chew your food properly and it will start to break down before it gets to the stomach. Challenge yourself - try and chew each mouthful 10 or 15 times," says Katie.
For some people, taking a digestive enzyme with a meal can help support natural digestion, as can taking proboitics. Eating pre-biotics will help to replenish the healthy bacteria in the gut - found in onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus and artichokes, as well as to a lesser extent in beans and pulses and some cereals, and in drinks like Yakult.