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Ask Jess: Why do I get bloated in the afternoons?

26th March 2018 by Jess

Our nutritionist Jess tackles a common problem with these top 5 tips.

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Many people tell me they experience their stomachs getting more and more bloated as the day continues. This blog post is dedicated to sharing five practical tips with you, so you're armed with proven strategies to support your digestion.

Jess, graze nutritionist

One of the common culprits is stress.

The first thing to explore, is why this might be happening.

The production of stress hormones causes blood to be diverted away from digestion to your periphery, so that your arms and legs are powered with a good supply of blood and oxygen should they need to get out of danger quickly.

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TIP #1 - BREATHE

Due to the pace of life that many of us lead, we find ourselves regularly stressed or at least our body perceives us to be under pressure or urgency.

Either way, our body responds accordingly. When we eat in this 'stressed' state, digestion is compromised, meaning if you’ve had a hectic morning or you’re not feeling entirely calm when you eat, you are very likely to experience bloating as the day wears on.

To remedy this, try 5 deep diaphragmatic breaths before eating - breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and breathe out for 5 seconds.

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TIP #2 – GIVE UP COFFEE FOR 4 WEEKS

Coffee can also stimulate stress hormone production. Some people find that removing or reducing their intake of coffee helps to reduce afternoon bloating.

If you’re a coffee fan, I understand that it’s probably not a solution you're keen on, but my role is to arm you with options.

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TIP #3 - APPLE CIDER VINEGAR / LEMON JUICE

Another common cause of bloating can be due to the insufficient production of stomach acid; this can be as a result of stress or diet. A lack of stomach acid can affect optimal digestive processes right from the outset. Think of your food as a big long string of circles, or pearls on a string. Your teeth and saliva go to work first on breaking the circles apart, and stomach acid then continues that breakdown process.

Poor stomach acid production alone can lead to bloating. When food is not broken down sufficiently it may arrive in the intestines in a form that is still too large. Here the bacteria that inhabit the large intestine will begin to ferment whatever food is delivered to them. As gut bacteria breaks down the larger fragments of food, they produce gas, which can lead to that uncomfortable bloated feeling.

Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in warm water before meals can help to increase stomach acid production, which promotes proper digestion of food. It is also a good idea to drink water away from meals rather than with them, to maximise the action of your stomach acid.

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TIP #4 - CHEW

Chewing food really well is the first step to help reduce bloating.

Sit in a calm state and focus on chewing your food properly. This is often helped by ensuring you’re not distracted when you eat your meals.

No more eating on the run or in front of your computer screen if you can help it! You might be surprised just how much of a difference this small change can make.

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TIP #5 - KEEP A FOOD/SYMPTOM DIARY

Sometimes bloating is caused by the consumption of foods that your body cannot digest efficiently. It can be challenging to pinpoint a food intolerance, as we can experience symptoms up to 48 hours after consuming something that doesn’t agree with us, depending on the stage of digestion.

If you have a feeling that something you’re eating isn’t working for you, it can be helpful to keep a note of your symptoms and what you eat for a couple of weeks to try and track the culprit.

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I hope the above helps.

Share below which tip best resonates with you and what you’re most looking forward to trying in your life.

If you have experienced any benefit from trying anything that isn’t on this 5-step checklist, then we’d love to know as it might help a fellow grazer.

Jess, graze nutritionist

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By Jess, graze nutritionist.

Our nutritionist extraordinaire, Jess trained at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition and is a registered practitioner with the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She's the creator of our health badges, to help you choose the snacks and boxes that are right for you. Check out everything from Jess on our blog, with recipes and tricks to help you keep making better choices, or go to Jess's blog at jessipes.co.uk for even more.

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