Bloating, Deflating, & Daring Not to Care Too Much
You bubbly, uncomfortable, wretched bitch.
Let's talk about it because why does it seem like literally everything makes me bloated? If you're here I'm assuming you are too. I can look at a piece of cheese and my stomach will side-eye me with a gurgle. In this blog, we're going to discuss triggers, what has helped me decrease bloat discomfort, and tips I've gotten from friends including a wellness advocate, medical nurse nutritionist, and normal ass people like you and me who haven't floated away just yet.
I quit drinking and it helped a lot, let's just get that out of the way. I'm nearly one-year alcohol free and the extra bloat in my face and body has visibly reduced. Booze swelling is a thing of the past and looking back at it saddens me to see how I allowed it to happen for so long and spin out of control. I want to give her a hug and then a good swift kick in the butt to stop but, we'll save all that for a one year sobriety update.
It's not all sober unicorns and rainbows over here though. When I'm hormonal or eat something my body detests its big belly Betty all over again. I'm sure I have several food allergies but haven't gotten any tests for them (Christ, they're expensive). I've cut back on dairy which also has made a major difference. She went from cheese on something nearly every day to cheese on a thing or two just a couple of times a week... we celebrate small victories here.
The day I put this gym set on I felt amazing. One could even say, I felt skinty minty. I strutted around in it on a dog walk like I was the hottest chick this side of the Mississippi. I likely was a tad delusional but felt good and strutted anyway so leave me alone, I'm having fun.
A week later, I won't even put it on thanks to hormonal shifts. I feel like when Veruca Salt ate the Thanksgiving gum and started to get rounder before your eyes. I need the Oompa Loompa's to send me off to the juicer.
It comes without warning. It's like I wake up and everything has shifted in the night like an undetected earthquake. This is when I make efforts to help facilitate the awful feeling. I stop using so much salt and drink lots of water. I try to eat certain foods that help ease discomfort, like celery and ginger. I'd like to say I avoid french fries but that's a flat-out lie. That's when I crave them the most and for some reason, Flo Week I treat myself like Daddy Warbucks. Whatever Seannie wants Seannie gets, "Popcorn and chocolate you say?- you got it, anything for my princess" (James Earl Jones voice).
I will be the first to say I'm an enabler of the problem.
Something I think is important to mention here is, so many of us have bloating experiences and one should never feel judged for it. I know it's easier said than done, but with an obsessive diet and exercise culture ringing in our ears what feels like 24/7, someone needs to be out there rooting for you and celebrating that you're doing your best. I know that seems like a Reading Rainbow PSA but I mean it. Yes work out, yes be healthy, eat well and all that, but it's ok if you aren't someone who has the mindset to be grinding all the time at the gym. Some people do and some don't, and so the world rotates!
For reference, I personally grew up in an organic, natural, and homeopathic environment. My mother was and still is, incredibly focused on letting Mother Earth nurture us, and letting our natural cravings be our guide. My baby food was homemade and I hadn't tasted anything processed until I was much older and stayed with friends who had pantries and fridges stocked with Spam, frozen dinners, plastic cheeses, and fake butter. I just thought everybody ate like a farmer off the land like we did. Turns out some eat like post-apocalyptic survivalists dependent on toxic fallout shelter food. I'm grateful for my upbringing and feel it has really helped me into my adulthood in making better decisions for my health. I'm not sure what the school systems are teaching kids now but when I went to school we just had a food pyramid chart and a contradictory cafeteria serving up grey meatloaf and freeze-dried mashed potatoes. Where do we really learn how to eat right and navigate that as we grow? I think it's a bit of home and a bit of what our body is telling us. Just listen to it, it makes incredible sounds and aches when it's pissed.
I posted on Instagram about writing this blog and wanted to get some tips from my friends who I find to be incredibly diverse in their professions and general interests in wellness. Their answers are below and SUCH great advice for anyone else who wants some tips, I know I will be putting a lot of them in my back pocket.
I used to think retaining water was my problem with bloating but I soon realized, water helps flush out toxins and sodium that are the true culprits in adding to the blimp feels. This is spot on for de-bloating tip #1
LOVE Kombucha! My husband swears by it and even though he just told me, "he's never felt bloated a day in his life" *lucky* he does have other food discomforts and uses kombucha to settle them. With all the probiotics/live bacteria, I'd think it definitely wouldn't hurt to give it a try if you feel bloated. Krissy recommended the Synergy bootch which is my top favorite as well.
My mother would like this one, she's been trying to get me to remember my hot lemon water every morning since she learned it helped with alkalizing (balancing your body's ph naturally). This is my sister-in-law who recommends two that are super easy to implement into our rituals and most of us have on hand. I'm a big fan of ginger and lemon teas (peppermint too). I have a great balancing tea for sale on my webshop made by Westcoast Willow. Among many other beneficial organic herbs, it contains dandelion which helps with de-bloating. I also have the cutest little tea sets to go with it, just hit me up if you want me to ship you a set with your tea, it's just $5 extra and makes a great gift for a fellow inflated buddy. Ok shameless plug
Speaking of Westcoast Willow, she sent this list and is the second person to recommend chewing slower. I know for a fact I eat too fast and surely most of us are guilty of it.
I've never considered bone broth but love the thought of it and will be trying this one for sure. I read it aids in digestion, irregular bowel movements, and abdominal pain when researching for this blog. This seems like a good one to have in your de-bloating arsenal.
I will let you all decide on fasting options yourselves as that's something each of us has to decide for ourselves and not my area of expertise to speak on. I will say, I naturally go through times of having no appetite and as I've said before, I just listen to my gut (literally). If I'm not hungry, I don't force it. When I crave something with probiotics like kimchi or sauerkraut, a certain veggie, or fruit, I listen.
I'm posting this one anonymously because it has some personal info in there, she didn't ask me to I just assumed. We tend to message back and forth a lot about nutrition, diet, and health (as that's her area of education as a nurse and nutritionist), and then she asks me about beauty stuff. I love a good advice exchange of our trades.
She's the other who mentioned slowing down when eating. I'm terrible at this so I did a little research to see what tips I can find on the matter. I got a few good ones and a bunch that would never work (like counting chews, yeah not gonna happen, I'm ADD).
One I really liked is setting the fork down with each bite. I actually think that would help- it would give pause for a moment to focus on chewing and physically stop you from shoveling. Chew baby chew!
Another was set a timer. I have no clue how long it takes me to eat. Do you? Time seems to not exist when I'm hungry and have a plate before me. I sort of transcend reality and zone out. I think my jaw becomes unhinged and as my mouth opens to double its size, my eyes roll back into their sockets and my plate goes in with one shove.
Perhaps a timer would be a reminder to chillllll.
Finally, one I think I'd really enjoy that I saw is setting an intention before eating. I grew up in a family that said a thankful prayer before eating so nostalgically, sitting down and saying a little gratitude and intent to eat slowly would be a nice way to start off a meal. I'm in a place where I'm really trying to find a peaceful positive focus wherever I can so this one hit home. I can see how taking a moment before gobbling down a feast might relax you as well as remind you to take your time. I'm going to give it a try.
Allow me to point out that men DO in fact get bloated too. Thank you for this Sean, because for a second there I thought men had it way too good and never had to deal with it. I hope this blog post was helpful for you too if you're reading.
I'm sure a few more tidbits of advice will trickle in but my IG stories post will expire soon and figure this is a good place to end the card submissions I'm getting. Thanks to everyone who responded. I never know if people will participate and I was delighted to talk to you all in my DM's.
Now excuse my belly and me. We're going to go hang out together and not worry about a damn thing. Bye for now!
*Note: this is not a "body positivity" post. I'm not a fan of the term, it sounds as if I'm making some grand statement merely for existing and being ok with it. This is a post about bloat discomfort that affects people of all sizes.