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10 foods that might make you bloat

May 29th 2018 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 3 comments


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From the most bloat-inducing foods to the least, we asked an expert to share her recipe for beating bloated stomach woes for good

What causes bloating? From the dietary to the non-dietary, irritable bowel syndrome to stress, a bloated belly could be due to a wide variety of reasons.

To a certain extent, an inflated post-meal stomach is completely normal and shouldn’t give rise for concern (nor make any woman feel like they have to dismiss pregnancy rumours for that matter, just like Jennifer Aniston had to do once). That said, if bloating after eating causes extreme discomfort or gas, it could be time to see your GP. Short-term solutions in the meantime can range from chewing your food until it’s almost liquid and avoiding drinking excessive water with meals so as not to dilute your stomach acid (nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik’s top tips).

However, it might be worth looking to see if certain foods could be responsible. This can differ from person to person, but there are certain culinary culprits that are more common than others. We asked Dr Ayesha Akbar, Consultant Gastroenterologist from St. Mark’s Institute for Bowel Disease to help ID them as well as provide her recommendations of better bloat-free alternatives. Here are her top 10 picks.

1. Beans

Why they can cause bloating: “As beans contain alpha-galactosidase sugars, they are one of the foods that can cause gas as a by-product of digestion.”

Bloat-busting tip: “This doesn’t mean you have to avoid beans completely, adjust your diet by cutting them down or look into replacing them with beans that are more digestible instead, e.g. black beans. You can also use other grains.”

2. Garlic

Why it can cause bloating: “Garlic is a great antibacterial food however, it contains fructans which are FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) which also cause bloating.”

Bloat-busting tip: “To reduce the effects of bloating, avoid raw garlic and make sure to cook it before adding into dishes.”

MORE GLOSS: Should you adopt a low FODMAP diet?

3. Dairy products

Why they can cause bloating: “As a large chunk of the population is lactose intolerant, their digestive systems can’t break lactose down and so consuming yogurt, milk, cheese and butter can cause bloating.”

Bloat-busting tip: “Look into using lactose-free products including alternative milks: soya, coconut or almond.”

4. Apples

Why they can cause bloating: “As apples contain fructose, those suffering from ‘fructose malabsorption’ [i.e. an inability to absorb it properly] may suffer from digesting issues and bloating after eating these.”

Bloat-busting tip: “Similar to garlic, cooking the apples may reduce the effects of bloating. If you would like to replace them with a different fruit, try blueberries, grapefruits or bananas.”

MORE GLOSS: The 10 reasons why you’re always hungry

5. Bread

Why it can cause bloating: “Bread is a common cause of bloating as it can contain gluten, rye and wheat.”

Bloat-busting tip: “To avoid bloating, you could look into cutting bread out of your diet or replacing rye with brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat.”

6. Lentils

Why they can cause bloating: “Due to the fact lentils are high in fibre, they can also cause bloating.”

Bloat-busting tip: “They contribute to excessive gas production unless soaked before eating. Opt for light-coloured lentils as they are also lower in fibre than the darker ones.”

MORE GLOSS: 11 ways with turmeric

7. Sugar alcohols

Why they can cause bloating: “Surprisingly, some alcohols are also FODMAPs and tend to cause digestive problems. Consuming a lot of alcohol can also cause bloating.”

Bloat-busting tip: “Use alternatives to sugar and sugar alcohol, e.g. stevia - a natural sweetener with proven health benefits.”

8. Broccoli

Why it can cause bloating: “Similar to beans above, broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family which means they can increase bloating for some individuals.”

Bloat-busting tip: “Replace broccoli with sweet potatoes (which have many health benefits), lettuce or spinach.”

9. Carbonated drinks

Why they can cause bloating: “Fizzy carbonated drinks contain a lot of carbon dioxide and therefore are the most common cause of bloating.”

Bloat-busting tip: “It’s best to avoid any fizzy drinks and instead drink flavoured water.”

MORE GLOSS: 15 reasons why fizzy drinks are evil

10. Watermelons

Why they can cause bloating: “Similar to apples, watermelons contain fructose and can cause an upset stomach for some.”

Bloat-busting tip: “Watermelons are a very popular fruit in the summer but to avoid bloating, it might be best to replace them with grapefruits and bananas.”

Join the conversation

  • Lucy
  • July 21st 2016

Have to say I agree with Leslie. I imagine Dr Ayesha Akbar, consultant gastroenterologist, does in fact know what she's talking about when it comes to gut health. And I imagine she has a little more knowledge than a yoga teacher.

  • Leslie
  • July 20th 2016

Coco Tomas-- As a "fitness, pilates, and yoga trainer and fitness model", you don't seem to have an understanding of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Science has shown that IBS symptoms are real, not psychiatric in nature, and are often helped by a diet low in FODMAPS-- undigestible sugars and carbohydrates found in some fruits and vegetables. Yes, it's true that those same fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients, but these nutrients can be found elsewhere in foods that don't cause painful bloating.
Telling people that adding cumin to beans and lentils will make these legumes less gassy is an unfounded old wive's tale which you claim as truth (with little knowledge, I dare say). The experts consulted for this article have not dispensed a load of garbage, but rather some help for those who suffer from IBS. And lastly, not everyone with painful gas, bloating, or IBS has a FAT GUT. Disappointing? You bet.

  • Coco
  • July 20th 2016

Do we need any more scare mongering? So many of these foods you've mentioned contain vital nutrients that are an essential part of a healthy diet. My experience as a fitness, pilates and yoga trainer and fitness model: most people have a FAT GUT. Bloating is not something to be overly concerned about even if it causes mild discomfort, there are ways to counter the effects of these foods and still be able to continue enjoying them and all the benefits they have to our health. Adding cumin to beans and lentils for example will counter-act the "gassiness" they may cause and having a pro-biotic yoghurt with/after fruit will do the trick. But advising people to avoid them altogether (with little knowledge I dare say) or suggesting cooking an apple...not only makes it more sugary but do we even have the time? Disappointing.

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