Common Causes of Bloating and Digestion Problems

Happy Wednesday!  I never thought I’d be talking about bloating on here, but it’s something that I’ve personally been dealing with for the past 3 years and after opening up about it on my instastories, I was shocked to learn so many of you have too.  It seems like almost everyone I know these days is suffering from bloating, digestion problems, stomach pain, and/or food sensitivities.  And what’s really sad is that most of us haven’t been able to figure out what’s causing it. Despite seeing countless doctors and trying every diet under the sun!

Well, I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to have finally gotten to the bottom of my stomach problems and I wanted to share everything I’ve learned over the past 3 years with you.  I’m a total nerd and when I need an answer to something or am interested in a particular topic. I go on a deep dive and read every article, book or podcast I can get my hands on to find a solution!  I have been able to speak to countless experts in the industry and pour through hundreds of documents to come up with this list for you!

Ultimately what really solved my bloating though – was listening to my body, a lot of trial and error, and eliminating foods high in histamine.  As a reminder I am not a doctor and you should consult with yours before making any drastic lifestyle changes!

-Raw veggies especially cucumber skin and carrots are hard to digest for some
-Beans/legumes/chickpeas
-Eating fruit with other food. It should always be eaten on an empty stomach
-Probiotics containing lactose or weird additives
-Kombucha (at least for me!)
-Dairy
-Chewing gum
-Refined sugar – try an alternative like maple syrup or coconut nectar/sugar
-Nuts – if you can tolerate nuts, only eat sprouted or soaked nuts because they are much easier to digest
-Gluten free baked goods that you think are healthy but actually have more chemicals in them!
-Brown rice syrup (found in many energy bars)
-Brown rice – I eat white rice since it’s easier to digest, many say brown is healthier, but my bod just doesn’t digest it as well
Stevia – I got addicted to stevia and it actually increased my sugar cravings and made me feel sick after consuming it regularly
Agave – this is not a healthy sugar alternative
-Caffeine
-Alcohol – If I do drink, I love Belvedere because it’s the purest vodka
-Additives and preservatives in food like guar gum and carrageenan. Basically anything that you can’t pronounce or don’t know what it is and isn’t natural – wreak havoc on my gut – and is found in “healthy” food including almond milk and yogurt too. So read your labels and don’t buy anything with it
-Pork
PCOS
-You could have SIBO or a parasite
-You could have a food sensitivity and not know it (I found out I have a histamine intolerance)
Histamine intolerance
-Drinking ice cold beverages. Cold liquids are a major culprit for me so I drink mostly room temperature water, etc.
-Carbonated beverages – even Pellegrino
-Too much salt (the celery juice craze is real, but celery is very high in salt, so cut the salt content by adding in other veggies with your juice)
-Too much fiber and not enough water with it
-Not enough water throughout the day
-Drinking too much water with a meal. You should technically not drink water 20 minutes before a meal and 1 hour after since it dilutes the digestive enzymes in your tummy, I don’t follow this religiously, but I am mindful not to guzzle water with a meal, or right after a meal – instead I’ll have small sips if I’m dying of thirst
Stress – we hold emotions in our guts
-Nightshade sensitivity.  I stay away from tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and mushrooms 90% of the time since they cause inflammation
-Supplements/powders that aren’t high quality or that your body just can’t digest/break down – I do not take anything
-Not giving your body enough time to digest between meals and grazing throughout the day
-Eating too many high FODMAP foods. I love zucchini but it is a high FODMAP so I don’t eat it every single day – it’s crucial to rotate and switch up the food you eat everyday so you can get a wide range of nutrients
-Eating spicy foods when your dosha doesn’t align with it – check out Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda to find out your dosha (its been around for almost 5,000 years and is the real deal)
-Pre-existing conditions/illnesses can also make you more susceptible to bloating

The way I personally beat bloating was through an IgG blood test (a food sensitivity test), trial and error, an elimination diet, and avoiding the things I listed above majority of the time.  The icing on the cake to my health journey was realizing I had a histamine intolerance which I will eventually do an entire blog post on, but for now you can find a list of high histamine foods here.  To explain the the IgG blood test – it’s a test that basically compares the protein in your blood to the protein in common food items and analyzes whether or not they’re an inflammatory for your body.

Things I always disliked growing up like; shellfish, blueberries, and bananas showed up as inflammatory on my list – no wonder I never wanted to go near them!  It’s amazing how our body already pretty much knows what’s good vs what’s bad for it isn’t it?  Now, let me say that this test is not 100000% accurate. Because for example – it said that nuts were good for me/not an inflammatory… but I get bloated and feel sick when I eat nuts, so now I just listen to my body and omit nuts.  You can use the test results as a loose guide (most of it was accurate for me), but ultimately you need to listen to your body.

As far as elimination diets, I have eliminated gluten for weeks, dairy for weeks, meat, and other more specific food items and then reincorporated them back into my diet to see if they were triggers.  Elimination diets are a great way to naturally test what works for you and what doesn’t.  Because again, a test result can’t always tell you exactly how you’re going to feel after you eat something. It really comes down to you.

I did an elimination diet for my histamine intolerance where I cut out all high histamine foods, then slowly one by one started incorporating them back in to see if they gave me a reaction.  An example of how I did this – was I eliminated avocado for 4 weeks since it releases histamine and then reincorporated it back in, but when I did I instantly felt sick/bloated – so there was my answer – avocados are not for me (sad, but I also weirdly had a feeling and just didn’t listen to it – lesson learned!!!)  I did the same thing with chocolate – and was SO happy to have no reactions so I enjoy it in small doses!

Everyone’s body is different and we all require different things.  Please don’t look at this list and think “Omg I can’t have anything, this is so restrictive!”. Because that’s not true.  These are just common things that trigger bloating but some people may be perfectly fine with any or all of these.  I love food and I do not believe in depriving myself.  Now that I’ve got my bloating under control – I feel like I can actually eat more and really enjoy everything from rice to pasta, chicken, salmon, fresh veggies, etc. I am not afraid of carbs haha!  You can see what I eat in a typical day here.

I hope the biggest thing you take away from this post is – LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Don’t go off what one person, label or article says is healthy, don’t jump on the latest fad diet without checking in with yourself first, use common sense and stay away from chemical filled foods, preservatives and anything that doesn’t come from the ground/is natural, and don’t get discouraged!!!! It’s worth it to do your research, ask questions, get multiple opinions and tests done, and go through trials and errors to find out what will help you look and feel your best. Remember gut health affects your mental health, mood, physical abilities, skin, hair, nails, and more!  I hope you found this article helpful and as always feel free to email me with any questions you may have!!! XO
Calypso St. Barth kaftan (similar)  |  Star Mela clutch

Jessica Alexander Photography

Share this post: