First up: Experiencing some bloat during your period is totally normal, per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. And bloating after you eat a giant bowl of pasta (some after two helpings of spaghetti bolognese last night) is usually nothing to worry about, says Rabia de Latour, MD, a gastroenterologist, assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health and director of endoscopy at Bellvue Hospital Center.
In other words, both of those kinds of bloating aren’t anything you need to “fix.” Oh and one more thing:
The whole idea that you need to de-bloat for summer? Total B.S. Your body is perfect the way it is, K?
The kind of bloating I wanna talk about isn’t just a puffy stomach. It’s often painful, it might involve diarrhea or constipation, and it happens at least once week (Not. Fun.) Sound familiar? These are all signs that you could have an underlying condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or lactose intolerance that’s causing bloating, says Dr. de Latour. The best way to find out is to book an appointment with a gastroenterologist so they can properly diagnose you.
If you do have an underlying condition, you’ll probably walk away with an IBS, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or functional bloating syndrome diagnosis, says Dr. de Latour. But don’t freak, they can all be treated or at least managed so you don’t have to deal with painful bloat forever.
With lactose intolerance and celiac disease, the main solution is to avoid the foods (so dairy or gluten) that trigger your symptoms. And for SIBO, it’s as simple as getting an antibiotic from your doc to get the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract back in check. If you have IBS which is most common in young women, BTW or functional bloating syndrome (which basically means you have bloating at least once a week for six months without any other diagnoses), sticking to a low FODMAP diet should help you feel better, says Dr. de Latour.
FODMAPs, aka fermentable, oglio-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols, are a group of carbs that aren’t well-absorbed by the GI tract, so they sit in your small intestine and pull in gas and liquid which can cause abdominal pain and bloating, explains Dr. de Latour. So if you have IBS or functional bloating syndrome (or think you might), you’re gonna want to avoid FODMAPs at all costs.
Some foods to steer clear of? Excess sugar, apples, onions, gluten-based foods, beans, watermelon, dairy products, and cauliflower.