Afternoon bloating can be a pain for many women I speak to. They wake up feeling comfortable, but come the evening, feel they look six months pregnant. This experience of waking up with a flat stomach only to feel swollen and uncomfortable by the end of the day, makes many women think “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe how fat I look”. Whether you are conscious of this or not, it’s usually that kind of attitude that the female psyche triggers.
That frustration and the stress that it causes is worse for women who have made a decent effort with their diet and their exercise regime that day. It can be particularly frustrating for the women who have made immense efforts to take good care of themselves and then find that this frustrating bloating is still going on in the evening.
When people begin to understand how their digestive system works, one of the first things people are most surprised about is how small their stomach actually is. If you clench your own fist and take a look at it, that’s actually how big your stomach is without any food in it. It’s essentially a tiny little pouch. When you swallow food, you chew it first before it moves down the oesophagus and lands in the stomach where the stomach acid starts to work on it.
The best way to imagine it, is by thinking of your food as a big long string of circles and the job of the stomach acid that is secreted by the cells that line your stomach, is to go chop, chop, chop, chop, chop and start to break that food apart.
So when we overeat, that little pouch that is our stomach not only has to expand to accommodate all of that food, it also has to allow the food to sit in the stomach for about thirty minutes before it can continue on its journey.
When people experience a lot of bloating it’s usually quite low down in their abdomen which makes them think that it has to be related to their colon or their large intestine. All sorts of other factors, however, can cause bloating such as the poor secretion of stomach acid, stress or food choices, exposure to certain infective organisms like parasites or even a condition I like to call ‘Bali belly’ which develops while you travel and can result in the digestive system never feeling the same since.
So it’s really important to work out the road to a bloated stomach because your road in to a bloated stomach is the same road we need to take out. In all of my books including Rushing Women’s Syndrome and Accidentally Overweight, I go into detail about how you can solve that and how you work out what actually led you there. I help you identify what the game changer was that led to that bloated stomach.
In the meantime though, there are some simple steps that everybody can take to really begin to change whether they’re bloated or not. The first thing is to slow down and chew your food really well because there are no more teeth beyond your mouth and certainly none down your oesophagus. Once you chew your food that’s it; but most people today inhale their food. So what can make a really big difference immediately is to slow down and chew your food really well.
You should also drink water between meals rather than with meals because your stomach acid has a pH level which is very acidic and water has a pH that is much, much higher – in fact it’s neutral or above. A lot of water these days is actually alkaline and when you add something that’s alkaline into something that’s supposed to be acidic, you dilute the effect of that stomach acid. So it’s really important especially if you experience bloating, that you drink water between meals rather than with meals.
Stress can play a massive role for people because adrenaline for example is communicating to every cell in your body that your life is literally in danger so it diverts what is normally a fantastic blood supply away from your digestive system to your periphery; to your arms and your legs because that’s going to power you to get out of danger, the perceived danger that your body thinks that you’re in. So again eating in a calm state can be quite critical for people to begin to make a difference to the bloating that they’re experiencing in the afternoon.
Of course, food choices are also a major factor as it can be really tough and a lot to ask of the digestive system when you are filling your body with processed foods and a lot of stimulants like refined sugar and caffeine. It can be very difficult for your body to know what to do with particularly some of the non-food ingredients that are added to processed foods these days. So dietary change can make a significant difference to how bloated you are.
There are solutions and there is always an answer, you just have to find the reason.