Bloating is one of those things that unexpectedly pops up out of nowhere for many new vegans. But why?
Isn’t the vegan diet supposed to be healthier and better for your body and digestion? Yet so many of us are surprised when we look down and see our ballooned up stomachs after we eat.
Bloating as a new vegan is something many of us endure, but there are ways you can combat it.
My bloating story
Ever since I can remember (even before going vegan) my stomach would bloat after every time I ate. I never knew why or gave it much thought.
After I went vegan I thought the bloating would stop since I was now putting cleaner, healthier foods in my body.
That didn’t happen though.
I specifically remember one day, when I was following the raw til 4 diet, I ate a bowl of dates (about 20 smallish dates) as a meal.
My stomach bloated so much you would have thought I was 5 months pregnant!
As time went on, the bloating continued and I was more and more perplexed and disappointed. I thought being vegan would solve all my digestive issues.
A year into my vegan journey, I was fortunate enough to get face to face with Freelee the Banana Girl (the creator of the raw til 4 diet) and ask her about my bloating.
In addition to telling me to just give it time, she also instructed me to look at my food combining. Believe it or not, there are certain fruits and veggies that don’t work well together, even though they are all good for you.
So I focused closely on what I was eating and made a few adjustments. Did the bloating go down? Nope.
It wasn’t until a year and a half after I went vegan that the bloating stopped.
Why new vegans bloat
Years of eating a diet low in fiber and high in pesticides, hormones and antibiotics creates an unhealthy gut environment. Because of this, your body probably doesn’t have all the good bacteria it needs to break down fiber.
As a new vegan, you’re likely eating tons of whole foods that are high in fiber, which can create gas as they are digested because your body needs to build up the good bacteria needed to break down these foods.
Also, your digestive tract is clearing out all those animal products that have been caught in the nooks and crannies, so you’re going through a bit of a detox at the same time.
While everyone’s body is different, bloating usually lasts a couple weeks to a couple months (unless you’re like me and get to endure it for a year and a half).
How to combat bloating
While bloating is a process that just takes time, there are a few things you can do to help minimize it.
Be mindful of food combining
Even within the world of whole plant foods, there are certain foods that just shouldn’t be mixed. For example, you should never eat anything with (or shortly before eating) a watermelon.
That’s because watermelons digest so quickly that if there is anything in your digestive tract, it could create a traffic jam that the melon runs into.
Check out this chart to see how to properly combine food.
Take probiotic and digestive enzyme supplements
Probiotics are good bacteria that help to eliminate bad bacteria in your gut, which reduces gas and bloating. Make sure the probiotics you take have the bifidobacterium infantis strain specifically.
Digestive enzymes, on the other hand, help to digest and break down food faster and easier, so you’re less likely to get bloated.
While your body already naturally creates enzymes, taking a supplement can be helpful for those with insufficient enzymes or those who want to ensure their digestion runs optimally.
Eat smaller meals more frequently
When you eat a larger meal, your body is required to digest all that food at once. Because your body may not have built up enough digestive enzymes and good bacteria, you may not be able to properly digest all that food.
If you want to ease the burden on your digestive system, eat smaller meals. This way, less is required of your body during digestion.
By eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, you can still eat the same amount of food as you would by eating a few large meals, so you don’t have to worry about going hungry!
Regardless of how intense your bloating is or how long you have to endure it, always keep in mind that it will get better. Just stick with it and you will be happy and healthy once you reach the other side.
Want a free food combining cheat sheet?