Bloating. One of the most uncomfortable aspects of recovery. To be honest, we all experience it at any weight. Most of the time, it’s not super noticeable but some days, it’s a little more pronounced. Why? Because we eat and drink! When you consume anything, it’s taking up space in your body. It isn’t weight gain, it’s food and liquids being digested so that your body can use it’s valuable nutrients. It doesn’t last.
For those who are recovering, the bloat of food does last longer than the average person. This is simply because the digestive system has slowed down as a result of being starved for so long. It isn’t permanent, the body does speed back up but only after being provided with adequate nutrition and calories. Eventually your body will trust that it will be getting a steady supply of food whenever it needs and your digestion will kick back in to gear.
So, what to do about the bloating (which is mostly a combination of food, gas and water retention)? It can’t be avoided. It’s a necessary part of recovery which, for most of us, is the absolute worst part. It makes us feel huge and ugly and disgusting.
First, I want you to know that you are not huge, ugly and disgusting. Your warped perception of your body is likely making the bloating out to be something so much worse than what it is. Second, know that it will eventually pass. I promise. All that we can do is manage the bloat until the body does what it needs to do. Here’s some tips that helped me manage my symptoms:
1. Stop sucking it in.
I know you’re doing it. We all do it. We want flatter stomachs because they’re more flattering and attractive. Stop it. Stop trying to hold it in. Holding it in only makes it harder for your body to digest your food and move things along. Squishing your organs is not going to make it better. You’re only going to be more uncomfortable and slow the process. Let it out. Let your stomach bloat. I understand how hard this is, I understand how very triggering it is and how uncomfortable it is and that leads me to ..
2. Wear baggy, loose, stretchy and comfortable clothing
Leggings, yoga pants, flowy dresses, flowy tank tops, hoodies, all of the most comfy things you own or can get your hands on. Tight clothes are NOT a good idea right now. They will not make you feel good. They will make you feel worse. Wear whatever clothing allows your body to do what it needs to do and keep you comfortable. The baggy/flowy clothes help hide some of the bloat and you can feel a little less self conscious about it. Leggings are your best friend right now.
3. Avoid fibrous foods
Yes, yes. We want to eat healthy and give our body nutrient rich foods like vegetables and fruit and whole grains so it can be healthy. Just not right now. Right now, that fiber is making the gas situation MUCH MUCH worse. It took a while for me to wrap my head around this but honestly, you need to take a break from the veg. You need easy to digest food right now. Drink whole milk (raw if you can find it!!!!!), eat things like nut butter, butter, cream, white flours, easy to digest fruits, well cooked vegetables in small portions, preferably cooked in butter, etc. You get the idea. Fiber is not your friend right now.
4. Drink water
I am not going to give you an amount to aim for because, just like with everything, all bodies are different and require different amounts of hydration. However, being dehydrated is only going to make your bloating worse. Drink water when you’re thirsty. Drink slowly, don’t chug it. Keeping your body hydrated will help it hold less water.
Lay down, relax on the couch and let your body do what it needs to do. Resting will help move things along a little quicker as your body can put all of it’s focus on the repairs it needs to make without worrying about fueling other daily tasks. Rest when you can for as long as you can and try to enjoy it! Binge watching Full House, anyone???
Hopefully this helps! These things really, really helped my bloating symptoms. It wasn’t too long after I stopped trying to suck it in that the bloating lessened in severity for me. It’s a lot more comfortable to just let it out. Trust me. Keep eating the food and be kind to yourself. You’ll get through this.