How to get rid of menopause bloat is one of the most pervasive questions among midlife women in perimenopause or menopause. But for most women, bloating didn’t start in menopause. Most of us began bloating during our menstrual cycle when we hit puberty and have been struggling with it ever since!
We hoped it would go away when we no longer had menstrual periods. But our bloating didn’t end there and continues even after menopause! So what’s a girl to do? First, let’s talk about what we’re dealing with.
What is Menopause Bloat?
Menopause bloat is the feeling of pressure and tightness in your belly, which feels and looks a lot like early pregnancy. The swelling is caused by extra air and fluid in your gastrointestinal tract, says Medical News Today.
Bloating not only makes us feel uncomfortable, but it also causes temporary weight gain. This leaves us unable to button our pants and desperate to pass gas.
What Causes Menopause Bloat?
During perimenopause, we may have higher levels of Estrogen, which causes us to retain water, according to Healthline. Lorena Tinoco, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist affiliated with West Kendall Baptist Hospital, told Baptist Health “high levels of estrogen and a lack of progesterone can lead to decreased bile production which causes the digestive system to slow. This can cause dry stools and constipation, which in turn often cause bloating.”
So back to the first question: What’s a girl to do?
10 Ways to Get Rid of Menopause Bloat
A variety of factors and behaviors influence menopause bloat. So, reducing or eliminating those behaviors can also reduce or eliminate the bloat.
1. Reduce Alcohol Intake
As if we don’t have enough reasons to stop drinking alcohol, there is yet another reason to nix it. “Alcohol is considered to be an inflammatory substance and therefore it causes inflammation to the gastrointestinal lining of your gut,” Robbie Clark, accredited practicing dietitian and co-founder of HealthBank told HuffPost Australia. This inflammation is a root cause of your puffed-up midsection.
2. Reduce Coffee Consumption
According to Livestrong, a March 2016 study found that drinking coffee is linked to bloating in those who are sensitive to caffeine. And adding cream and artificial sweeteners can exacerbate the problem. Cream and milk contain lactose, a natural sugar that is difficult for some people to digest. This also causes bloating and gas.
Similarly, artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes contain sugar alcohols that are not easy to digest, which also causes excessive gas and bloating.
3. Stop Smoking and Vaping
In addition to the other 25 billion reasons to stop smoking and vaping, add “causes gas and bloating” to the list! Smokers and vapers inhale a lot of air when they smoke and vape, which can lead to gas build-up in the gastrointestinal tract and a bulging abdomen.
4. Eat Slower
As with smoking and vaping, when we inhale our food, we also inhale air, causing us to bloat. Try sitting at a table when you eat without multitasking or distractions. Taking a drink of water in between bites and eating small portions also can slow-down your eating to improve digestion.
5. Eat More Meals with Smaller Portions
Eating a large meal can lead to poor digestion and belly bloat. So why not break up your three larger meals into six smaller meals throughout the day?
Smaller portions ease digestion, reducing bloating and flatulence.
6. Limit Certain High-Fiber Foods that Cause Gas
As we age, we tend to be more health-conscious so we increase our intake of fiber. While fiber is essential to our health, certain high-fiber foods can increase gas and bloating. The biggest gas-causing culprits are beans and legumes. Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and onions also can cause flatulence and discomfort, according to healthandenergyfoods.com.
Instead of eating these gaseous vegetables, try eating low-gas alternatives like carrots, celery, squash, and spinach, to get the vitamins and fiber you need.
7. Reduce Sodium
Michael Jensen, MD, an endocrinologist and obesity researcher at Mayo Clinic, told WebMD “highly processed foods tend to be high in sodium and low in fiber, both of which can contribute to that bloated feeling.” So, reducing your intake of canned, frozen, and otherwise processed foods can reduce abdominal swelling due to bloating. In other words, say goodbye to the chips and pizza in favor of whole food options to get rid of your menopause bloat.
8. Drink Water
Drinking water can reduce fluid retention and prevent constipation, which reduces bloating. According to Livestrong, generally, you should try to drink 11 to 15 cups of water per day. That sounds like a lot of water. But if you start drinking water first thing in the morning and continuously drink it throughout the day, you should be able to meet that goal. And be sure and consult your doctor about the exact amount of water you should be consuming.
9. Get Regular Exercise
According to Everyday Health, A 2006 study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that physical activity helps move gas faster and reduces bloating. Just walking around the block can do wonders for your after-dinner menopause bloat. For a great full-body workout see my post Get Fit After 50: 25 Minutes is All You Need.
10. Try Anti-Bloat Medications
The Mayo Clinic suggests over-the-counter remedies, such as Lactaid or Dairy Ease to reduce bloating due to lactose intolerance.
It also suggests trying products containing simethicone, such as Gas-X and Mylanta Gas, noting some people found they work despite no proof they are helpful.
When to Call a Doctor
If you are unable to get rid of your menopause bloat, you may want to consult a doctor to rule out anything serious. The Mayo Clinic recommends you call a doctor if you have any of the symptoms below:
- Persistent or severe abdominal pain
- Bloody stools
- Changes in the color or frequency of stools
- Unintended weight loss
- Chest discomfort
- Loss of appetite or feeling full quickly
Menopause bloat is one of my least favorite things about menopause. But if you try these recommendations, you’ll get rid of menopause bloat and be more sassy than gassy before you know it!
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