How to Beat Bloat+Constipation / by lee tilghman

On a scale from 0 to sexy, being bloated and or constipated is probably listed at -100000. We all know that feeling good, energized, sexy and ourselves comes from WITHIN. If you feel good inside, you feel good outside.

Well, if you’ve ever been bloated or constipated, or struggled with other uncomfortable and often not spoken about IBS symptoms, then you KNOW how hard it is to feel good or even think straight. 

What is bloat?

First, I want to differentiate a common misconception between being bloated and being full. The two are completely different things. Feeling full or slightly overeating is when you go past your body and stomach’s level of comfort.  We all know that we are supposed to stop eating RIGHT before we get full to avoid this common discomfort, but it happens from time to time and is part of life. Feeling full is a fleeting sensation that can go away with time, water, and a little movement. 

However, being bloated is when you feel this sensation of fullness or you feel like you are “about to burst” even without food in your belly. It happens when you are eating the wrong foods at the wrong times. Being bloated is when your stomach, gut, and digestive tracks are inflamed. This also affects your energy levels: bloat is normally accompanied by feelings of sluggishness, anxiety, depression and fatigue. If you’ve ever woken up bloated and foggy brained after a salty, heavy meal out at a restaurant and find it hard to button up your jeans in the morning then you know what bloat is.

We all deal with bloat from time to time, and up until this past year, I thought I was doomed for a life of bloat. But I'm not, and there is LAB (life after bloat).

My Bloat Story: 

In the summer of 2016 I was suddenly plagued with horrible bloat (and gas). I was eating all the same healthy foods that I had always turned to: tons of veggies, beans, smoothies. But I was struggling with constant inflammation of the gut lining, so much that sometimes I couldn't even button up my pants some days. This was really uncomfortable and embarrassing, not to mention it totally got in the way of my social life as I just didn't feel like spunky, lightning bolt Lee. I was also self conscious about my gas and it was just all really depressing.

So I took charge and saw a functional health doctor at Parsley Health and explained my symptoms. We began eliminating foods, as my coach was pretty sure I was dealing with IBS and that a diet lower in FODMAPS would help. I soon found out that onions and garlic were 2 of the biggest triggers of bloat for me, and once I removed those, almost all my bloat went away. 

Now, I am really educated about what my body likes and doesn't like and have a good few years of body wisdom under my belt so I have some tips to share.

How to Combat Bloat:

  1. Make digestive enzymes your new BFF. They help your body digest food better.Take them WITH your food (they won't work as well if you take them before or after). While your symptoms are bad, taking 1-2 at each meal can help tons. For me, I only now take them when I am traveling out of my routine or out to dinner. I like Enzymedica and Clean Program's. 
  2. Slow down at mealtimes. Remember to sit down, chew, put your fork down between bites, and sip on water. I know how tempting it can be to scarf down meals like it's your last, but trust me, it's 10x more enjoyable when we savor every bite. I like to remind myself to "Treat every meal like it's your last". If you knew that your avocado toast would be your last time ever eating, would you swallow it whole? Probably not. Remind yourself to really enjoy your food, eating is one of life's greatest pleasures. Not to mention, slowing down at meals and CHEWING helps to reduce bloat by a TON. If you are eating with a friend, hold a secret contest to finish your meal last. If you are eating alone, put away all electronics and distractions and just really focus on your food. 
  3. Make some ginger turmeric tea. As soon as you feel the bloat come on, pour some hot water over peeled + chopped organic ginger and turmeric. 
  4. Knix the kombucha and carbonated beverages. They make bloat even worse. In fact, sometimes they can even cause bloat. If you are bloated, try removing these foods from your diet and see if conditions improve. At times, I drink only 1/4 bottle of booch at a time.
  5. Make a smoothie. Sometimes eating big fresh raw salads can make bloat even worse. I find that blending my food into either cooked soup or smoothie works wonders for my digestive system and actually reduces the bloat.  
  6. Drink water. Water heals all- truly. I tell people to drink water when they're thirsty, and when they're not thirsty. Water helps move things along and is one of the best detoxifiers around. 
  7. Move around: get some exercise. I know that being bloated is uncomfortable and makes us feel sluggish, but keep your body moving. This will help reduce anxiety and by moving your body you are telling your mind to move and the bloat to move. It's a manifestation thing. 
  8. Get some sleep. Yeah, that's right. Sleep well and sleep long. Get black out shades, get a white noise machine, wear an eye mask and rest. 
  9. Look at your diet. 
    1. Is there something you are eating that continuously causes you to feel sluggish and bloated? If so, remove it.  Common bloating foods are gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, processed foods, raw foods, and artificial sweeteners and sodas. Everyone is different so what works for someone may not work for you. Experiment. 
    2. If you have done at eliminating the foods you believe to be causing you bloat and still feel like crapola, I definitely suggest looking into a 21 day reset or elimination diet like The Clean Program. Sign up here for $40 off the 21 day cleanse!

What is Constipation?

According to some experts, if you don't go to the bathroom within 30 minutes of waking up in the morning, then you are constipated. Constipation is not only uncomfortable but it;'s not good for our bowels to sit in our digestive tracts for a long time or else our bodies begin to re-absorb their toxic elements back into the bloodstream, and we don't want that! A happy, flowing gut is a happy, flowing brain. They are deeply connected!

I used to struggle with constipation, and below are some tips for dealing with it. 

How to Beat COnstipation: 

  1. Take magnesium chelate for constipation before bed. I love this brand. Also great for traveling if you get constipated. 
  2. Drink 8 oz. of water before you get out of bed and tons of it throughout the day. This is the most important part of a healthy, balanced, body 
  3. Spend 30 minutes at home before walking out the door to give yourself time to eliminate. AKA, don't rush your morning!
  4. Ashwagandha: the magical herb. I take 1/2 tsp every morning within a few hours of waking up. Ashwagandha helps get stuff moving for me, and maybe it will work for you oo!
  5. Most importantly, develop a routine eating and sleeping schedule 
    1. This is probably one of the most important factors in developing a healthy pooping schedule. Your body is a clock and works best when you have set times for things like eating and sleeping. For me, I like to eat dinner at 6:30 and go to bed by 9:30. If I drink tons of water I normally have no problem going to the bathroom first thing in the morning as long as I am comfortable and in my element. 

What are some of your favorite bloat + constipation tips?