Sometimes stomach bloat can be easily traced back to that huge-ass brunch you had with your BFFs. But other times, it’s a complete mystery.
“One person’s poison is another person’s medicine. What one person’s gut tolerates can vary to the next,” says Kelly Schmidt, R.D.
In fact, bloating can happen even if you’re all about the salads and healthy snacks. So it’s important to know that you shouldn’t avoid super-healthy foods just because they make you bloated.
Curious what your culprits may be? These are some of the most common foods that can cause bloating.
1. SUGAR-FREE GUM
The main reason why something so small can cause major bloating? Two words: sugar alcohols, says Ashvini Mashru, R.D., author of Small Steps to Slim.
“Sugar alcohols, which are a form of carbohydrate that are not very well digested, are a common cause of upset stomach,” she says. The sugar alcohol meets bacteria in the intestinal tract that ferments it, releasing gas—which can lead to bloating, cramps, pain
2. SPARKLING WATER
Sorry, La Croix addicts: your fav bevvy might be giving you major bloat.
“I think most people are aware that sugary sodas trigger bloating,” says Sass. But the bubbles that give any sparkling drink its fizz are also a factor. Even without any sweetener, that carbonated gas can inflate your belly like a balloon.
Garlic is an example of a FODMAPsfood, a group of foods that are poorly absorbed from the GI tract into the blood, or not absorbed at all. Because of their poor absorption, they drag water into the intestine and get fermented by bacteria, which builds up gas inside the intestines.
“Popcorn can cause bloating simply because of its volume,” says Sass. “One serving is three to four cups, the size of three to four tennis balls. That large portion only packs about the same amount of carbs as one slice of bread, but it’s going to take up a lot more space in your stomach, which can cause your tummy to look pooch-y temporarily.”
5. BIG SALADS
Obviously, if you’re lactose intolerant, you know that adding cream or milk to your coffee will leave your stomach on the fritz. But black coffee can trigger some bloating probs of its own, says Sass.
“Because it’s acidic, if you have a sensitive stomach, coffee can be an irritant and cause immediate swelling,” she says. “If you add sugar or an artificial sweetener, the effect can be even worse.”
You know the elementary school saying: beans, beans, the magical fruit. Hello, gas and bloat! But Margie Saidel, R.D., culinary, nutrition and sustainability vice president at Chartwells K12, says beans are a fantastic protein source so they might be worth the initial discomfort.
Milk, as good as it might be for our bones, can be harder on our bellies than its higher-fat cousins like cream, butter, and ghee. “Dairy is delicious,” says Schmidt. “But many people are intolerant to [its] whey, lactose, and casein, so getting a lactose-free milk may not be enough.”
“If someone doesn’t tolerate the proteins, lectins, or pesticides in wheat or in the grains used in beer,” Schmidt says, “then the body will hyper-respond to the foreign substance and cause inflammation in the body and on the immune system,” says Schmidt.