Feeling a bit too gassy, smelly, and embarrassed? Gas complaints are a pretty common occurrence. We all have gas production which is a very normal bodily function. For some, however, gas production can seem excessive and uncomfortable, not to mention embarrassing. Some people are so bothered by excessive gas that they seek a doctor’s appointment just for getting rid of the gas and it’s side effects.
While it’s very important to rule out diseases, often the gas symptoms result from how and what one eats! In fact, once a gastroenterologist referred a healthy patient to me simply to help the patient minimize gas, or flatulence, with specific eating strategies. Consider implementing the below simple strategies for help in getting rid of gas.
First steps for getting rid of gas
1. Time your eating. Don’t go long periods without eating. It is very common to have more gas discomfort if you skip food all day and then gorge on a large meal at the end of the day.
2. Pace your eating. Don’t wolf down your meals. Eating too rapidly will introduce extra air into your digestive tract. After all, what goes in must come out!
3. Pace your drinking. The same goes for drinking beverages too quickly. Using a straw may lessen the amount of air swallowed.
4. Avoid bubbly drinks. Steer clear of carbonated beverages, particularly without eating.
5. Avoid gum. Stop chewing gum as this may also be a source of swallowed air.
Getting rid of gas by careful food selection
6. Decrease lactose. Try decreasing or eliminating lactose in your diet. Lactose is a natural sugar found in dairy products. As we age, we start making less of the enzyme necessary to break down the lactose. Lactose-free dairy products such as milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, and cheese are readily available at most grocery stores.
7. Avoid gas producing vegetables. Certain vegetables are known culprits for causing gas. Vegetables such as cauliflower, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage all contain a natural sugar which some people have trouble digesting without an over-the-counter enzyme supplement such as Beano. Beano provides the necessary amounts of enzymes to break down the natural sugar from these vegetables. Or, simply consider eating smaller amounts of these foods!
8. Avoid certain fruits. Certain fruits such as apples, pears, prunes, and bananas may also be problematic due to the natural sugars fructose and sorbitol. No need to cut these fruits out of your diet, just try to pinpoint with food tracking which fruits seem to be your particular gas culprits. It’s likely that not all these fruits are problematic for you.
9. Avoid certain dietetic foods. Be sure to check the labels of any lower calorie foods you eat, as “diet” foods often contain added sorbitol.
10. Limit certain high fiber foods if necessary. High fiber grains can also be gas culprits due to the soluble fiber. Fiber is important for over-all health, so if you are having trouble with fiber rich grains, just increase these foods gradually back into your diet after a short elimination. Most people can eventually adapt to a higher fiber intake within a few weeks by switching up types of fiber rich foods. Remember, in addition to whole grains, fiber is available from all fruits and vegetables as well.
Try tracking your food and symptoms
The best way to determine your dietary gas culprits is to track your food and your symptoms. As everyone is different, some food eliminations work for some and not for others. Being aware of how you respond to your dietary adjustments is key to less gas discomfort. If symptoms persist and your physician has ruled out any medical conditions, seeing a dietitian can help you sort through the best eating strategies in order to both minimize gas and keep you healthy!
Eat and drink slowly as easy first steps for getting rid of embarrassing gas. This helps avoid swallowing unnecessary air. Along the lines of limiting swallowed air, also consider limiting chewing gum and carbonated beverages. Take stock of the foods you are opting to eat, as many foods contain hidden lactose. And, as certain vegetables are known to be gas producing for most individuals, take steps to evaluate your response to those vegetables. Because everyone is different, some foods such as fruit may also be problematic for some individuals. Finally, certain lower calorie dietetic foods containing ingredients such as sorbitol can cause gas. Since everyone responds to foods differently, it’s always best to be your own detective in order to sort out your particular dietary culprits.
Have you found any ways to decrease your gas?