Call it a Buddah belly, a food belly, a pouch or paunch, a pot belly, or a beer belly. Whatever you call it, a bloated tummy doesn’t just happen after you eat a huge meal. That’s certainly what I thought caused bloating before I became a functional medicine practitioner and health coach. We can all relate to pigging out on Thanksgiving or Christmas and then having to unbuckle our pants as we plop down on the couch, succumbing to a food coma.
But it’s not always the volume of what you eat, it’s also what you eat. And by that I don’t mean junk food. Sure, if you eat a whole bag of potato chips and chase it down with a soda, you’ll feel sick to your stomach. And your abdomen will feel like it’s distended a couple sizes larger.
But here’s the frustrating thing about bloating. It can happen after you eat certain healthy foods. And one of the biggest culprits is something called FODMAPS.
What Are FODMAPS?
Bloating has many causes. And in a future article, I’ll go over all the things that can make you feel like you’ve got an alien living rent-free in your tummy. But for here, we’ll focus on FODMAPS. Which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols.
I don’t expect you to remember that. I certainly didn’t remember what that funny-sounding acronym stood for overnight. But to put it simply, FODMAPS are sugars that your small intestines can’t absorb very well. The small intestines are where most of your digestion occurs. And if these sugars are poorly digested, they move along into the colon (the large intestine).
The large intestine is where most of your gut bacteria should be. And it’s in the large intestine where your bacteria come in contact with these undigested sugars and go to town on them like it’s an all you can eat buffet.
And after your gut bacteria feasts on these sugars in the colon, guess what happens? Just like we can experience gas after a big meal, so, too can your bacteria. And when your bacteria produce gas, you feel more bloated.
High FODMAP Foods To Avoid For Bloating
It’s not easy to lose weight and reclaim your health on your own. And one of the reasons why is because it’s so hard to know exactly what to eat. There’s obvious things to avoid like fast food, TV dinners, snacks, pastries and soda.
But so-called health food can also give you a food baby. For instance, one of the healthiest foods on the planet is broccoli. But broccoli is actually a high FODMAP food, meaning that it can cause bloating.
Now here’s the thing about broccoli and other cruciferous veggies like cauliflower. They are more likely to cause bloating if you eat them raw. So as healthy as it might seem to load up your plate with raw crunchy veggies at the salad bar, try to avoid uncooked cruciferous veggies.
In addition to broccoli and cauliflower, here are other raw veggies to avoid or minimize:
- Asparagus (Who would want to eat raw asparagus anyway? Yuck!)
- Brussel Sprouts (Ditto!)
- Garlic (especially on a first date!)
- Green peppers
High FODMAP Fruits
Another category of high FODMAP foods that can cause bloating are fruits. Unfortunately, there’s no underlying common characteristics when it comes to which fruits to avoid. You just have to memorize (or print) this list:
There are others on the list but I don’t want to make you fearful of eating fruit. Without doubt, if you have high blood sugar levels or type 2 diabetes, you should keep your fruit consumption to a minimum anyway.
But a few servings of fruit a day probably won’t cause you much bloating. However, for some people, all it takes is one offending food to sprout a food baby. So one thing I do with my clients is coach people how to keep a food journal.
Beans, Beans, The More You Eat, The More You …
We’re often told that legumes are one of the healthiest things you can eat because they’re high in fiber. While it’s certainly important to get enough fiber in your diet, some people just don’t do very well with legumes. And legumes like kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils are in fact high FODMAP foods. The carbohydrates (sugars) in them are not easy to digest and they ferment in the colon, causing gas and bloating.
(In a future article, I’ll also tell you how to make foods like legumes and grains easier to digest….)
Other High FODMAP FOODS
So real quick I’ll add a handful of other foods you should watch out for. These potential pouch-protruders include:
- Cereal grains (which are made with wheat)
- Sweeteners (like high fructose corn syrup, which you should always avoid)
- Anything with lactose – dairy foods like cheese, milk, yogurt
If you want a complete list of high FODMAP foods, just reach out. And if you want to work with me one-on-one, let’s set up a complementary call. I look forward to helping you achieve your health goals!
Until next time,
ER Nurse Practitioner
Functional Medicine Practitioner