So your jeans fit last week, but they’re feeling more than a little snug today. Either you’re up a couple of pounds on the scale, or you’re simply a little bloated.
Getting a swollen, painful stomach after eating certain foods is no fun in terms of your wardrobe, but it’s also a sign that something might not be right in your gut.
“Good gut health hinges on having a healthy population of gut bacteria,” explains nutrition expert Dr Joan Ransley, speaking as part of Gut Week which runs from August 29 – September 2. The key signs of bad gut health? Things like constipation, diarrhoea or – you’ve guessed it – bloating.
So how to tell if that tighter-than-usual dress is the result of weight gain or trapped gas? Here are a few key questions to help you figure it out.
Have you eaten any FODMAP-heavy foods today?
“The most common bloating triggers for people with a sensitive gut are foods containing high levels of FODMAPs,” says Dr Ransley. For the record, FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharide, Disaccharide, Monosaccharide And Polyols.
Foods like onions, garlic, white bread, white pasta, apples, pears, stone fruits, high-fat foods containing lots of butter, and of course alcohol are all high in FODMAPs and are liable to cause bloating.
How do you look and feel in the morning?
If your stomach is swollen before you go to bed but has visibly flattened by morning, it could be a sign that bloating and not weight gain is to blame for the changes you’ve been noticing. “When we wake up in a fasted state, our food has already left our stomach and is probably well into our colon, so we don’t get that ‘bloated’ feeling and look,” dietician Alex Caspero tells Women’s Health.
Have you taken antibiotics lately?
Powerful antibiotics kill off all bacteria in the gut – the good and the bad – disturbing the bacterial balance needed for a healthy tummy. “Antibiotics prescribed to fight off chest infections, for example, can all too easily decimate the colonic microbiome [the collection of microbes living in the gut],” explains Dr Ransley. A cranky gut equals bloating, pain and trapped gas.