“I think I’ll just have a salad” – words you’ve probably heard before, if not said before, at a restaurant or other venue that offers a limited menu.
When you’re worried about feeling bloating after eating and are uncertain about what to order off the menu, even a small dinner salad might seem like a safe choice. And some dinner rolls? Bring them on, too.
Unfortunately, these two choices – even in small quantities – can still lead to that tight, stuffed feeling in your abdomen. The best way to take bloating off the menu is to know which foods are most likely to cause bloating in the first place.
While you scan a restaurant menu for “safe” food choices, try not to be lulled into complacency by your surroundings. No matter how elegant the restaurant and no matter how accomplished the chef, certain foods are more likely to cause bloating whoever they’re prepared by. These foods include:
- Green, leafy vegetables, including lettuce, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale. Lentils, peas, beans and soybeans also can produce gas and bloating, and they’re followed right behind by vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, cauliflower and onions. If you’re vigilant about your daily vegetable intake, at least avoid munching on raw vegetables while you wait for your dinner to be served. Cooked vegetables are less likely to cause gas and bloating.
- Fried food or food prepared with butter. A heaping dish of chicken Parmesan over a bed of angel hair pasta could induce bloating if the chicken is fried rather than baked and you overdo it on the pasta.
- Salty dishes, which cause water retention and then bloating. Don’t be hesitant to ask your waiter about the chef’s “salt policy.” Many prideful, health-conscious chefs have gone so far as to prohibit salt shakers on the tables, confident in their ability to season a dish appropriately while not contributing to health conditions such as high blood pressure.
- Whole-grain wheat bread and muffins. Even that basket of dinner rolls contains fiber that can cause bloating.
- Dishes made with dairy products such as milk, sour cream and soft cheeses such as cream cheese and cottage cheese. If you find a dish on a restaurant menu that otherwise passes muster but is topped with cheese, ask the waiter to hold back.
Eating a reasonably sized portion – about the size of your fist – and doing so slowly will help mitigate bloating – as will taking a CharcoCaps capsule before and after you eat. These over-the-counter tablets absorb gas and so are helpful to have at home. But they can be a godsend when you don’t want bloating and intestinal gas to ruin an otherwise pleasant time out.