How to Avoid the Bloat: Foods You Shouldn't Eat (At Least Too Often)
Last updated: May 2019
One of the other uncomfortable realities of living with IBS and GERD is how often I tend to get bloated, as though my belly is a balloon that's been filled up with helium. I have found this is nearly impossible to avoid entirely as part of having IBS.
Foods to avoid to prevent bloating
However, there are a few foods I have taken to largely avoiding or have altogether eliminated from my diet, which has at least somewhat, minimized how frequently and severely I bloat. They are:
Of course, this may be a no-brainer for many, as beans are so notorious for causing gas, that there are even kid songs about it. Luckily for me, I have never really cared much for the taste or texture of beans, so never ate it much growing up. As an adult, I did start to occasionally eat some beans--I am after all a vegetarian and they are a great source of protein--but only in very small doses and rarely. I avoid black beans entirely and usually avoid garbanzo beans (chickpeas) as well. I find the occasional small cup of lentil soup is okay. And green beans don't really bother me if I don't eat too much of them. Otherwise, I tend to steer clear of beans as much as possible.
Whole wheat and grains
I wrote a whole post for this site a few months back about the importance of avoiding whole wheat. I found that any time I ate whole wheat bread, pasta or crackers, I would become very bloated and my IBS would flare. This isn't unusual for people with IBS, as whole grains and wheat are harder for our ultra-sensitive guts to digest well. In my early 20s, I switched to white flour bread and pasta--like sourdough. And my IBS was a lot better for it--including reduced bloating!
There's really no good reason to keep soda in one's diet. It's just all-around bad for you. It's chock-full of sugar and dyes, which can cause gas (and other health problems). The carbonation also can add insult to injury and make bloating worse. I've never been a big fan of soda, even as a kid. I only drank it rarely. My grandmother actually thought it helped diarrhea, so when I had it, she'd give me glasses of soda. It never helped and made things worse! As an adult I avoid it completely--it's been more than 20 years since I had a Coke. The only exception I sometimes make once in a while is to drink plain seltzer or club soda, but I only have small helpings and drink it infrequently.
Like soda, there really is no good reason to chew gum for most people. It has no nutritional value and depending on the kind of gum it is, can cause cavities. When you chew gum, it can cause you to swallow a lot of air, which can lead to bloating. And nowadays many types of gum actually has plastic in it, so it's terrible for the environment and you are exposing your body to toxic chemicals in the plastic. So, it's best to avoid it. As a kid, I loved chewing gum, but by the time I hit high school, I started to hate it and avoid it, as I do to this day.
This is a bummer because both of these have great nutritional value. However, I really just can't eat them too often: both aggravate both my GERD and my IBS. So, I tend to avoid them a lot, at least as prominent ingredients in the food I eat (having some garlic in a soup won't bother me, but a huge helping will). I find cooked/carmelized onions aren't as bad as raw, and purple/red onions don't cause as much issue as white onions. But I still minimize onions in my diet.
These are the big food items to avoid. I know many sources also assert broccoli is bad for bloating, but I actually love broccoli and tend to do well on it as long as I don't have too much of it in one sitting.
What foods cause you to bloat that you now avoid? Has it helped? Please share in the comments below!
Do you suffer from IBS-C, IBS-D, or IBS-Mixed/Alternating?