Bloating is so common now it is unusual to not suffer from it. Recent estimates claim that one in six people experience bloating, and for those with conditions such as constipation or IBS it is three out of four. People in the first group tend to blame intolerance and foods such as bread, pasta or carbs, but this is only part of the cause. If you try and cure bloating by cutting out everything that makes you bloat, you can end up with a diet so limited it’s not practical. For some people bloating is evident in swollen bellies but others have the uncomfortable sensation without the visible swelling.
From the angle of traditional Chinese medicine, bloating is a sign that your chi flow is blocked. Sugar and processed carbs can definitely be a trigger, but they are not necessarily the cause. This goes deeper to your whole lifestyle and what blocks chi flow. For example the feeling of never having enough time, or constant worry over escalating financial stress or overthinking, which are all common now, all block chi flow. Then what happens is when you eat foods that require a significant movement of chi to digest, such as pasta or bread, it aggravates the underlying stagnation. The result is chi stagnation in the upper abdominal area, the hub of chi flow, and this creates the bloating. The loaf is often innocent, lifestyle is to blame.
You’ll often hear advice about bloating such as to reduce the size of meals, or chew properly or avoid all foods that create gas, or to try juice diets. Dieting to create a flat stomach is not the solution. In my coaching sessions targeting weight loss, I frequently have clients who tell me that juice or smoothie diets have ‘fixed’ their bloating. But, as I point out, it is only fixed if you can eat a bread or pasta without feeling bloated. Because that means your chi is flowing smoothly and your organs are functioning perfectly.
Reducing or eliminating the processed carbs that have no nutritional value, and the fizzy sugary drinks, is always a good idea, but drastic diets won’t treat the cause. In fact they impair organ function (your organs need warm cooked foods, raw and cold foods harm them) and this can create even more symptoms. And it is important to look at the real underlying cause because any form of chi stagnation can be the start of a chain of imbalances that roll into lifestyle diseases. Contemporary life is full of stress factors and there is always a lot to worry over and think about. The solution is to learn how to regulate your own chi flow so that your organs work perfectly and you can handle the stress, survive, thrive and succeed. Here are five lifestyle chi flow tips I use with my clients:
Five natural ways to stop bloating
- Sit down and eat every meal calmly at regular times. While you eat repeat to yourself ‘I have time, I have time’ (yes it sounds silly but it works, because your organs understand the message) or listen to meditative music.
- Don’t ever read or text while you eat. The organs responsible for digestion need your full attention to be focussed on eating. If you read or text while you eat the movement of food is impaired and it will get stuck causing bloating
- Take Chinese herbs that help chi flow smoothly. My clients report tremendous results from the Bupleurum and Cyperus combination, with bloating reduced within a few days (this is because this formula moves chi).
- Learn ‘sinking’ techniques. Worry and stress makes your energy rise to your head and it accumulate there, contributing to not only stagnation and bloating, but also tight shoulders, stiff neck and headaches. If you grab a few minutes before you eat to let that energy move down into the legs, and then imagine it sinking even further down into the ground, it creates an energetic circuit which will ground you. You’ll feel calm and digestive processes will flow smoothly.
- Exercise somewhere between 5am to 7am each morning to activate your large intestine and keep it in good shape. This also develops your skills in letting go (the function of your large intestine). You can call upon these to keep chi flowing when you hit stress and worry.
Get my book Clock On To Health for the lifestyle that eliminates bloating and stress, but that also tackles constipation and IBS. If you are up for improving your performance on all levels from the organs up, and want to get every hour of the day working for your health and happiness, and make every day of your life purposeful, book in for a Health and Personal Growth Coaching session. For more info on bloating; on what organs and which TCM patterns are involved, and for a snapshot of the Western medicine view on bloating, visit my Symptom Checker.
*This is a generalisation, some breads are definitely guilty, and some people have allergies and factors such as celiac disease.