A Nutritionist Explains What to Eat—And Avoid—When You’re Bloated
You don't have to suffer the discomfort—you can do something about it.
Whether you can’t zip your jeans because you ate a super salty meal, poor gut health is giving you gas, or it’s your time of the month, a bloated stomach can go from annoying to downright uncomfortable.
Bloating can be caused by a lot of different things, and almost everyone experiences it at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of bad online advice purporting bloating “cure-alls” that aren’t backed by any science.
We asked Cooking Light’s Food and Nutrition Director, Brierley Horton, MS, RD, for legit ways to get rid of bloating. While there’s no cure-all or magic potion, she explains, there are different foods that may help—and some that are best avoided, as they may make your situation worse.
Horton says, “What triggers bloating varies from person to person, so your remedy might also vary. Try on different methods for size, and pay attention to your body’s response.”
Here, some science-backed strategies you can try for beating belly bloat.
DO: Drink Water
Drinking water and eating water-rich foods—such as watermelon or cucumber—will help you stay hydrated, encourage regular bowel movements, and help your kidneys flush out excess sodium.
DON’T: Eat Cruciferous Veggies
Cruciferous veg—like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts—are notorious for, well, making you gassy. Stay away from these 13 vegetables if you’re feeling bloated.
Horton cautions, “Don’t completely eliminate these veggies from your diet, because they pack a lot of other health benefits. However, when you’re experiencing bloat, you may not want to amplify it by eating gas-inducing vegetables.”
DO: Reach for Natural Diuretics
Ditch the OTC pills—those can seriously dehydrate you and cause bigger problems. Instead, reach for natural diuretics, like asparagus or parsley.
DON’T: Overdo It on the Salt
Sodium can make you feel bloated and retain water. If you have overdone it, reach for potassium and stay hydrated. Already ate a salty meal? Try these tips for reducing salt-induced puffiness.
DO: Eat Plenty of Fiber
Fiber helps keep you regular. Horton says, “Don’t ramp up your fiber intake too fast, because you’ll end up with more bloating. Reach for whole grains, raspberries, and avocados for a fiber boost that won’t make you feel like a balloon.”
DON’T: Drink Carbonated Beverages
Carbonated drinks such as soda and sparkling water can make you feel more bloated. Opt for a glass of water or warm tea for a hydration boost that’ll help you beat the bloat.
DO: Pump Up Your Probiotic Intake
Certain probiotics can aid in digestion—especially Lactococcus lactis, which can help buffer your gut lining and balance good bacteria; Lactobacillus paracasei, which can help you better digest dairy; and Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12, which can help reduce tummy inflammation and bolster the lining of your GI tract. Don’t be scared off by the sci-fi sounding names—you can find these strains in probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, refrigerated sauerkraut, and Greek yogurt.
DON’T: Eat Triggering Foods
Some people have food intolerances that can cause bloating and GI issues. This may sound obvious, but if you know you’re lactose intolerant, stay away from the dairy. Not sure if you have an intolerance? Head to your doc to find out for sure.