Got a big night out coming up? Find out how to avoid trapped wind and stomach pain on the day of your party
Prone to stomach bloating? A distended, sore stomach can really put the damp squibs on any party plans. Here’s our expert advice to stop tummy bloat ruining your big night out.
1. Eat regular meals through the day
You might think that your stomach will flatten if you skip a meal. But you would be wrong, says Kirsten Crothers, specialist gastro dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.
“Irregular eating can cause a build-up of gas, which means your stomach will end up bloated,” she says. “Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner helps keep the gut moving – this is called peristalsis – and it ensures that food is digested efficiently. Putting something in your stomach stimulates that movement, getting your system going.”
If there’s a long gap between your meals, make sure you eat a snack . Try a piece of fruit, low-fat yoghurt, vegetable sticks or a low-sugar cereal bar to give you energy and fibre.
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2. Keep eating fibre-rich foods
And while we’re on the subject, make sure you eat fibre on special days too. Some people avoid fibre-rich foods on the day of a party, thinking that it will increase gases and bloating. “But if you don’t have enough fibre, your bowels won’t open regularly, giving you a build-up of gas,” says Kirsten, who works at The Food Treatment Clinic. “Sometimes I see people with really bad bloating that’s just caused by constipation.” Best to get rid of that gas before a big night out then.
3. But avoid high-fat foods
Our bodies find it more difficult to digest high-fat foods, like take-away curry, pizza, chocolate and cake – it can cause stomach pain and diarrhea, as well as bloating.
4. Don’t chew gum
It might sound like chewing a stick of gum would be a good tactic for helping you steer clear of those bloat-inducing high-fat foods. But actually researchers have found it can actually trigger trapped wind too. Most chewing gums – even the sugary versions – contain artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol, which are poorly absorbed by the stomach, and can cause bloating and abdominal pain. In large doses, this can cause chronic diarrhea.
And there’s another problem – all that chewing signals to your stomach that food is on its way, triggering the release of enzymes and stomach acids that aid digestion. Yet with no food appearing, all that action going on inside your stomach can cause bloating.
5. Steer clear of smoothies and fruit juices
While eating fruit won’t increase bloating if it’s spread out across the day, do be careful of drinking smoothies and fruit juices. These usually contain three portions of fruit, which means a huge dose of fibre all at once – and this can be a challenge for your body to digest, leading to bloating. While it may not matter so much on a normal day, if you’re off to a party later, it’s best to avoid it.
Fruit juices, while they don’t contain as much fibre as smoothies, aren’t much better. “Juice has a lot of fructose – fruit sugar – which can cause bloating,” says Kirsten.
6. Be careful of portion sizes
Eating large portions can lead to indigestion and bloating. “It puts a lot of pressure on the digestive system and produces a lot of gas,” says Kirsten.
So read the packet of pasta or rice, follow the recommended portion size and weigh it out before you cook it. Your body will find the meal much easier to digest.
7. Go for a walk
Moderate aerobic exercise – even a brisk walk – can be very effective at preventing bloating by lowering stress levels, says personal trainer Laura Williams.
“One theory is that exercise helps to speed up the passage of gas through the digestive tract,” she says. “Aim to walk for at least 15 minutes to give your digestive system enough time to respond.”
8. Drink peppermint tea
You might fancy a quick coffee to perk you up before you go out – but this is not a good idea.
“Caffeine stimulates the nervous system around the bowel, adding to bloating,” says Kirsten. “If you are prone to bloating, this can aggravate it.” She advises avoiding colas and coffee from midday onwards as caffeine stays in the body for around eight hours.
Instead look out for peppermint tea – researchers have found that it can reduce stomach distension and help to prevent bloating symptoms.
9. Drink lots
If you become dehydrated, your body will hang on to any fluids, which can cause bloating. Drinking fluid during the day is a really good way to reduce bloating – choose water, decaffeinated coffees and teas, and herbal teas. Watch out for sparkling water as any fizzy drinks, even the healthy ones, can make you feel gassy.
10. Choose an easy-to-digest main meal
Think ‘meat and two veg’ as the ideal meal on the day of a party: it’s low in fat and plain so won’t irritate your stomach, while also containing a balance of protein, fibre and carbohydrates. “The result is that your gut keeps moving efficiently,” says Kirsten. Good choices are grilled or oven-baked chicken or Quorn with mixed herbs, potatoes and veg.
11. Make time to relax
For some people, stress plays a big role in gastrointestinal discomfort. “Stress triggers hormone changes in the body that are part of the fight or flight response, and these aggravate the nervous system,” says Kirsten. “If your gut is hyper-sensitive, this can cause stomach bloating and pain.”
Chances are, you can’t cut stress out of your life – so instead aim to manage it by making sure you take time to relax on the day of the party. This could mean wallowing in a bath rather than having a speedy shower. Hopefully after all this, you and your stomach will feel on top form – and ready for a brilliant night out.
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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.