It’s a quagmire if there ever was one: your doctor is advising you to eat more fruits and vegetables, but all they seem to do is cause you discomfort from bloating and embarrassment from gas.
And it’s not your imagination or any coincidence: foods that contain complex carbohydrates, such as beans, whole grains and green, leafy vegetables, also are high in fiber. And a high-fiber diet can trigger excessive flatulence and belching because your gastrointestinal tract cannot absorb and digest fiber.
The “usual suspects” that cause gas include vegetables such as beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage; fruits such as apples, peaches and and pears; whole grains like bran; and dairy products, including milk, cheese and yogurt.
Take the long view
Rather than beg your doctor to switch you to a blissful all-potato diet – or some other “comfort food” you enjoy – try to take the long view. While diets high in fiber are healthy for everybody, doctors often recommend them for people with heart disease and diabetes.
High-fiber foods are rich in nutrients and, since your system cannot digest them anyway, contain few to no calories. Eating a high-fiber diet also can improve your gastrointestinal health over time because it will keep you regular and prevent constipation. And therein lies one of the keys to managing bloating and gas when you’re determined to fill your plate with healthy foods:
Dish up your coping skills
- Ease your way into a high-fiber diet over the course of several months. Add a new fruit, vegetable or dairy product every few days to give your system time to adjust to a higher fiber intake.
- Limit yourself to small portions of high-fiber foods. Use your fist as a guide to sensible portion sizes.
- Chew your food slowly. Even if you’re ravenous, force yourself to put down your fork between bites. Extra intakes of air can exacerbate bloating and gas.
- Drink more water as you increase your fiber intake. It will help mitigate bloating and gas.
- Soak dry beans in water overnight before cooking them so that they shed some of their gas-producing carbohydrates. If you’re using canned beans, rinse and drain them thoroughly.
- Take a CharcoCaps caplet before and after you eat. These over-the-counter caplets absorb gas – providing relief from gas and bloating and allowing you greater room on your plate for the healthy foods you need in your daily diet.