Last week on a group call, one of my gutTogether clients shared a story about being out at a family gathering. She talked with her sister in law about her longtime struggle with bloat and constipation, and how she’d tried what seemed like everything to make it better. Immediately, her sister in law suggested, “Have you tried cutting out gluten and dairy?”
My client was so annoyed. Of course she did! She had tried everything and regardless of what she did, she felt bloated. This is what led her to my program, similar to so many other women. They feel they have tried “everything” and are bloated regardless – which can be super frustrating. My client shared how she would have terrible anxiety before family gatherings, just like the one mentioned above; she was worried about her symptoms, worried about comments from other people with silly recommendations of what she should try, and just didn’t feel like herself anymore.
What most of my clients don’t realize until joining the gutTogether program is how their digestive symptoms like bloat and constipation are impacted by more than just food. Now, I am not saying that nutrition has no place in the digestive health world – I am a dietitian, after all. What I am saying is that we tend to be laser-focused on just one thing, when we need to be focused on several things when it comes to relieving bloat and constipation.
Think of it like a stool. If your stool has 3 legs, but you cut 2 of the legs off, it will fall over. The same applies to digestive health. Focusing only on nutrition, only on supplements or only on cutting out foods will likely result in feeling frustrated and still bloated.
If you feel like you have tried every food elimination, just like this client, here are some things you need to consider when trying to improve your bloat and constipation.
- Stress: if you are stressed, it doesn’t matter what you are eating. Being in a state of stress makes it hard for your body to “rest and digest” and actually take the time to digest, repair and heal.
- Underlying issues like bacterial overgrowth, low stomach acid or hormone imbalances: sometimes we need to “lift the hood” to see what’s going on inside. Taking a look at what is contributing to your symptoms from some testing can give us great insight into how to address your symptoms with a balanced nutrition perspective, supplement routine and lifestyle modifications.
- Daily movement: gentle, daily movement (preferably in the sun) can do wonders for your digestive health. I encourage my clients to get in 10 minutes of sunshine first thing in the morning to help with circadian rhythm and gentle movement (like walking, yoga, pilates) does wonders for stimulating a bowel movement.
If you feel frustrated by your lack of improvement with bloat and constipation, know that you aren’t alone. Your efforts to find relief may need to be supplemented by finding a more well-rounded and sustainable approach for relief. When you address bloat and constipation from all angles, you find relief long-term, know your triggers, can expand your diet to include greater variety (which may include gluten and dairy), and free up more mental space to focus on other aspects of your life!