Why Does Your Stomach Swell After Meals?

After having a nice meal you want to relax; however, suddenly, your stomach swells almost greater than double its usual size and your trouser feels tight. Apart from that you feel stomach cramps, belching and gas. All of these are possible symptoms of bloating of stomach. Bloating is a common occurrence, which may be caused due to certain underlying medical conditions and can be fixed by making changes in your habits of eating.

Why Your Stomach Swells After Eating?

Foods That Result in Gas Formation

Bloating occurs due to gas trapped in your intestines and stomach. After eating, the food gets digested in stomach and then goes into the small bowel, where carbohydrates and proteins present in the food are broken down by the enzymes to be used in the body as energy. Certain foods are hard to digest and may result in excessive gas, which may collect in your digestive system leading to belching, bloating and flatulence. Common gas forming foods are cauliflower, baked beans, carbonated beverages, broccoli, cabbage, vegetables and fruits and hard candy. Bloating can also occur due to swallowing of air from chewing gum or eating quickly.

Intolerance to Foods

Intolerance to certain kinds of foods is among the common causes of bloating of stomach. Bloating can be triggered by milk and foods containing gluten and fructose. It is recommended to not eat these foods in case you develop stomach pain or bloating after consuming them.

Overeating

Why your stomach swells after eating? Due to overeating, the food is not effectively broken down by your body, which results in distended or bloated stomach. Hence, instead of large meals, eat frequent small meals all through the day so that your stomach gets ample time to digest the food.

Lack of Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are needed by your body to digest the food you consume and absorb nutrients. An inadequate availability of digestive enzymes manifests as gas, constipation, bloating, stomach pain, weight gain and other form of digestive problems. You can take digestive supplements to help minimize deficiency of digestive enzymes in the body and make your digestive system stronger.

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the common functional medical disorders of the digestive tract. It results in bloating or swelling of stomach along with pain. IBS can be treated by making changes in the lifestyle habits and by eating a healthy and balanced diet. The symptoms can also be controlled by limiting or avoiding foods, which triggers IBS.

Constipation

Why your stomach swells after eating? Constipation is among the common complaints of digestive system. It results in stomach bloating and tight belly along with pain in abdomen. Bloating occurs due to trapping of gas behind stool that is moving slowly and keeps on building. Stomach pain resulting from constipation can be relieved by drinking large quantities of water/fluids and including foods rich in fiber in your diet.

Acid Reflux

In some cases after eating there is backflow of stomach acid in the esophagus resulting in acid reflux, which causes bloating in the upper stomach particularly post eating meals. It can lead to excessive burping or nauseous feeling within one hour after eating a meal. You may drink carbonated water or fizzy drinks to get relief from pressure of gas in your stomach.

Other Causes

Other causes that may result in excessive bloating of stomach after eating a meal are bacterial overgrowth in the small bowel, ovarian cancer, weight gain, celiac disease and tumors. You should undergo a medical evaluation before attempting to self-treat the symptoms.

How to Treat Stomach Bloating?

After discussing why your stomach swells after eating, let’s discuss ways to treat stomach bloating. Making changes in your lifestyle and dietary habits may prove helpful in treating stomach bloating. Follow the simple tips mentioned below to combat stomach bloating and lead a healthy lifestyle:

  • Consume lots of water to flush out fluids and sodium from your system. You may also drink herbal teas such as chamomile or peppermint tea to relieve bloating.
  • Do regular exercise to help the release of gas from your system. Simple exercise including jogging and walking can help.
  • Consuming foods rich in magnesium including nuts, vegetables or leafy greens may help in decreasing retention of fluid, which results in bloating.
  • Consuming probiotics such as kefir, kimchi, yogurt or other types of fermented foods may help in encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria in the small intestine.
  • Avoid smoking. Furthermore, avoiding or limiting the consumption of salts, artificial sweeteners and starches may also help in releasing gas and reducing bloating.

How to Avoid Stomach Swelling After Eating?

1. Watch your intake of fiber: Foods rich in fiber such as beans, legumes and whole grains are one of the common causes of stomach bloating. Though fiber forms an integral part of a diet that is promoted as healthy for heart; still, you should increase its amount gradually in your diet as it can result in bloating in some individuals.

2. Avoid eating excess salt: Eating excessive salt can result in water retention leading to bloating. Avoid excess salt by using herbs in your diet in place of salt. Also reduce the quantity of packaged and processed foods you consume.

3. Don’t eat fatty foods: Your body takes long time to process meals that are high in fat as the fat travels slowly in the digestive tract causing your body to bloat. However, more issues are caused by trans and saturated fats, which are present in fried foods; hence, you can try eating, unsaturated fats that are healthier such as nuts, seeds or avocado.

4. Limit your intake of carbonated drinks: Soda and carbonated water are the leading culprits when it comes to bloating of stomach. They cause the buildup of carbon dioxide gas in the body when you consume them. This leads to bloating, particularly if you consume them quickly. It is best to drink plain water. You may add a slice of lime or lemon for flavor.

5. Eat slowly: Eating quickly may lead to stomach bloating due to swallowing of air and retention of gas. You can reduce bloating by eating slowly which also reduces your intake of food.

6. Take a walk: Exercise has benefits for overall well-being and health. It also helps in reducing buildup of gas that result in bloating. You can go for a short walk post a meal to relieve bloating.

7. Take an anti-gas supplement: Anti-gas supplements such as a-galactosidase helps in preventing buildup of gas from some types of foods, relieving bloating. Many other types of digestive enzymes are available such as lipase, protease and amylase, which you can try. These help in breaking down fats, proteins and carbs and are either available as separate products or as combination products. Furthermore, probiotic supplements may help in regulation of the friendly bacteria present in the small intestine, which can also help in decreasing bloating.

 
 
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