In a perfect world, we'd all subscribe to a balanced diet filled with organic veggies, gluten-free grains like quinoa, and easily digestible proteins like chicken and fish. We'd trade in happy hour cocktails for water and manage to avoid any trace of fatty, salty foods. While a bit idealistic, this is what Charles Passler, DC, founder of Pure Change and nutritionist to celebrities like Bella Hadid and Adriana Lima, recommends for avoiding the common feeling of belly bloat altogether.
Meet the Expert
- Charles Passler, DC, is a celebrity nutritionist and founder of the Pure Change Program. With over 20 years of experience, Passler is committed to personalizing a lifestyle to each of his clients and has been featured in Harper's Bazaar, the New York Times, Vogue, and W magazine.
- Tamara Duker Freuman, MS, RD, CDN, is a New York–based registered dietitian and the author of The Bloated Belly Whisperer.
Unfortunately, busy schedules and the convenience of a quick takeout meal can make it difficult to stay on track with a healthy diet that's high in fiber and contains a moderate amount of fat and protein. Add in other factors that can lead to bloating like dehydration, constipation, PMS, and overdoing it on veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and beans—the worst bloat offenders, according to Passler—and you can be stuck with an uncomfortably bloated stomach despite your best efforts. Fortunately, there are ways to combat belly bloat for quick relief from even the worst symptoms of this pesky digestive problem. We spoke to Passler and dietician Tamara Duker Freuman on how to get rid of bloating fast, so you can get back to your routine and feel your best.
Here are eight things to do the minute you feel bloated.
Drink Herbal Bitters
According to Passler, herbal bitters—medicinal herbs and botanicals that have been preserved—are key to improving bloat. Digestive bitters activate receptors on your tongue that signal the production of more digestive juices down in your digestive tract. "This will help reduce intestinal inflammation and gas production related to consuming offending foods," he explains. Mix yourself up an elixir of sparkling water and herbal bitters—Passler recommends Angostura—to soothe a bloated stomach.
Other medicinal bitters that aid with digestion include dandelion, gentian root, burdock, yellow dock, and Angelica.
Eat More Lemon
If you're looking for a solution to your bloating troubles that's likely already stocked in your kitchen, you can turn to a simple lemon to help relieve your symptoms. Lemons act as natural diuretics, increasing the amount of water and salt expelled from our bodies.
Sucking on a quarter of a lemon can help trigger digestive juice production by activating specific taste buds.
Take a Digestive Supplement
In a pinch, digestive supplements containing ingredients like amylase, lipase, protease, or HCL can help get rid of bloating quickly. These key ingredients aid the digestive process and can reduce gas production. Passler suggests trying SpectraZyme Complete from Metagenics or Daily Probiotic ($34) from Pure Change.
The living bacteria in probiotics help regulate bowel movements (key for digestive health) and help fats digest more easily.
Take a Laxative
Those not prone to constipation can stay regular by eating a diet high in fiber, staying hydrated, and maintaining a healthy exercise routine. But if your bloat is caused by constipation, you might consider taking a laxative to ease your stomach woes. Passler recommends taking 500 milligrams of magnesium citrate with a cup of black organic coffee to kick-start your digestive system.
Laxatives should not, however, be used on a regular basis, and should be taken under the supervision of a doctor.
Drink Dandelion Tea
When bloat is caused by water retention, brewing up a cup of dandelion tea may be the solution. Passler explains that it "acts as a diuretic to help you reduce bloating by shedding excess water weight related to hormonal imbalances like PMS."
Dandelion helps the body in other ways, too. A 2017 study conducted in China found that the polysaccharides found in the herb benefit liver function thereby helping to detoxify the body.
Avoid High-Fiber Foods
If you suffer from chronic constipation, dietary strategies may prove most effective in remedying bloat. "If your bloating is caused by a high stool burden (basically, chronic constipation leading to a backup of excess poop), then eating very high fiber foods will likely make your bloating feel worse, not better," says Freuman. That means avoiding things that might otherwise actually help with digestion, like broccoli, chia seeds, lentils, and black beans.
Finally, a nice yoga session (even 10-15 minutes per day) can do wonders for your digestive system. "Yoga is an excellent way to stretch abdominal muscles and improve movement throughout the intestines," Passler explains. Grab your mat and do a few easy poses to stretch out your tummy.
Avoid FODMAP Foods
If your bloat is caused by gas, there is another crop of foods you'd be wise to cut back on. Those that fall into the FODMAP (short for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols) category are notorious bloat-inducers. "If your bloating is caused by a slow-to-empty stomach, then eliminating certain 'gassy' foods like beans or Brussels sprouts isn't going to help at all," notes Freuman. "Though if your bloating is caused by too much intestinal gas, then avoiding such 'high FODMAP' foods may indeed help."
FODMAP foods include wheat, legume, milk, yogurt, and certain fruits and veggies (like blackberries and lychee).
When it comes to bloat, the best road to relief lies in determining the root cause of the problem, which could range from a food allergy to excess gas or bacteria in the gut. Certain chronic bloat issues won't respond to changes in diet at all, notes Freuman. "If your bloating is caused by swallowed air, there's no food you can eat to remedy it, and no foods to avoid that will prevent it," she says. "In general, when you're bloated, there's very little you can eat that will make it go away ... with the possible exception of ginger, fennel, or mint teas for a small subset of bloats. More often than not, it's not eating for a while that makes the bloating go away."