Pretty sure everyone would agree that feeling bloated is super uncomfortable—it's like having a small balloon tucked away in your stomach. And there are tons of reasons as to why you may be bloated: eating certain foods, taking certain medications, suffering from certain bowel and digestion conditions, or having your period.

coffee, tea
Hana Brannigan

Everyone gets bloated for different reasons, and treatment of bloating is highly individualized; what works for you may not work for another person. While you may feel uncomfortable and self-conscious, remember that bloat is part of life (just like gas), and it will pass. But there are certain things you can eat and avoid that may help (or at least, not worsen) the bloating situation. Here are some pro-tips ton how to deflate your belly. 

Things To Avoid:

1. High-Sodium Foods

salt, condiment, chocolate, sweet
Angela Kerndl

Sodium causes your body to hang onto water, which can lead to bloating. While decreasing salt intake may seem like a no-brainer when you're bloated, there's way more to decreasing your sodium intake than going easy on the salt shaker.

Packaged, frozen, and fast foods all tend to be extremely high in sodium. Condiments, including most bottled dressings, ketchups, mustards, and hot sauces, are also often extremely rich in sodium. And dining out can be a major sodium slam, as well.

To decrease your salt intake, try to cook at home, opt to make your own simple dressings, and go for spices like cayenne pepper over condiments like hot sauce. 

2. High-FODMAP Foods

popcorn, cauliflower, kettle corn, sweet, goody
Kristine Mahan

FODMAPS stands for fermentable oligo-, di- and monosaccharides and polyols. Yeah, that's a lot. Basically, FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are not easily digested and poorly absorbed in your small intestine

In an effort to be broken down, bacteria flock to FODMAPs to try to break them down. They also draw large amounts of water to the small intestine. Between bacteria fermenting the FODMAPs and the flush of water, high FODMAP consumption can often lead to gas, diarrhea, and bloating. 

FODMAPs are found in high amounts in foods like: beans, onions, garlic, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, fruits high in fructose—including mangos, pears, raisins and apples—and certain grains including wheat, anything with high fructose corn syrup, dairy, wine, and beer.

Many people are sensitive to FODMAPs and benefit from limiting their consumption. That said, everyone who is sensitive to FODMAPs is sensitive to different FODMAPs. If you think you may be sensitive to some, try decreasing or eliminating consumption of one or a few at time to see if symptoms decrease. 

Many high FODMAP foods are highly nutritious, but may not be what you want to eat if you're feeling bloated. Stick to smaller portions of these foods when you're bloated, or find a tasty alternative (like almond milk instead of dairy).

3. Gum + Cough Drops

grass, Pink, candy, bubble gum, Hubba Bubba, bubbles, Gum, bubble tape
Julia Gilman

This may sound weird, but for some people, these can be major triggers of bloat. The chewing can cause you to swallow more air than usual, which can lead to bloating. Weird, I know. 

4. Artificial Sweeteners

Diet, coke, Coca-Cola, soda, City, Skyline
Tess Tarantino

This is another often-overlooked or forgotten-about FODMAP food. Try your best to avoid overconsumption of anything with sugar alcohols (like xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol) or artificial sweeteners. These could be hidden in anything from soda and English muffins to popcorn and yogurt—you'll have to check the label. 

5. Bubbly Beverages

soda, juice, beverage, beer
Kristine Mahan

Like gum and cough drops, sparkling beverages can increase the amount of air in your stomach and digestive system, and may contribute to bloating. 

Moreover, soda (both diet and regular) contain sweeteners that are high in FODMAPs (see above). Stick to water, unsweetened coffee, or tea. 

5. Alcohol

alcohol, whisky, wine, liquor, beer, maple syrup, syrup
Christin Urso

Alcohol is rich in FODMAPs (again, see above), and cause intestinal distress for many people. (Ever get the beer shits? Yeah, you're not alone). Beer in particular can lead to bloat. 

Foods You Should Eat: 

1. Water, water, water

water, beer, iced water, ice, glass, water cup
Jocelyn Hsu

Staying hydrated is important in beating bloat. A lot of people get constipated or stay constipated when they are dehydrated. Be sure to drink up to keep everything flowing smoothly. 

2. Kombucha/Other Pro- and Pre-biotic Foods (Maybe)

juice, ice, sweet, alcohol
Rachel Hartman

Some people benefit from pre- and pro-biotic foods when it comes to intestinal issues, including gas and bloating. These foods help foster a healthy micro-biome (the bacteria that live in your gut), which can decrease bloat and digestive issues over time.

3. Highly Satisfying Foods

peanut butter, peanut, butter, chocolate
Jocelyn Hsu

When you're bloated, you may not feel like eating much, and/or if you eat a lot of high fiber/bulky foods, you can make bloating worse (see above with the FODMAPs thing). 

That's why if you're super bloated, eating highly-nutrient and calorie dense foods instead of high-fiber large-volume foods may be a smart mood. A smoothie with lots of nut-butter and some avocado toast, for example, are rich in nutrients and energy, but won't cause too much bloating. 

4. Smaller, frequent meals

porridge, rice, oatmeal, sweet, milk
Christin Urso

In addition to satisfying foods, eating smaller, spaced out meals throughout the day rather than a few large ones may help your bloating. 

By giving your digestive system space between meals, rather than overloading it with a high volume of food at once, you're more likely to avoid making bloating worse.

The Bottom Line:

water, fish
Spoon University

Next time you're bloated, grab some water, bring out the sweat pants, and review these tips. 

While bloating is different for everyone, eating and avoiding certain foods may help. But if your bloat goes on for an extended period of time and prevents you from fulfilling academic, social, or professional responsibilities, you should definitely consider visiting your doctor or seeing a GI.