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11 Reasons Why You're Bloated Despite Eating Clean

Updated: Apr 24, 2019

Ah, yes.... bloat. Not just allocated to that lovely time of the month.

For most of us women, we attribute this feeling to being a normal part of our female existence. We bloat when we eat clean, we bloat when we eat like crap, we bloat merely by scanning our eyes at a dessert table, or because it's simply just that time of day and it comes on like clock work.

What if I told you bloat doesn't have to be normal! That you don't have to live life uncomfortable in your skin every single evening, waiting for the morning where you feel like your old self again. Or going to bed with your significant other praying to GOD you don't pass gas in the middle of the night. Hah! Yes, we just went there. Ladies aren't supposed to fart. Or so the myth goes.

I experienced this irritation in my belly for years...DAILY...and still do from time to time! Sometimes the scale will tell me, other times I just feel it in my clothes. A vacation can do this, but so can a normal day. So what gives?

Here's some of the most common causes of bloat, discomfort, and that scale not budging:

1} Chewing Gum

Chewing gum, typically "sugar free" versions, contain artificial sweeteners. Xylitol, sucralose, aspartame, saccharin...the list is long. That sweet juice you swallow while you chew? Yep! That's artificial flavor and sweetener, babes! While, yes, the quantity of these sweeteners is tiny in a little stick of gum, they still need to break down in our guts. The gut doesn't really know what to do with this fake stuff though, and thus they can be hard to break down. Our gut has to work a little harder to move it through our system, and bloat can result. Additionally, when we CHEW gum, we tend to swallow air along with the sweet stuff. Excess air is literally being delivered to our gut the more we chew... and hence, more air in your belly!

2} Sipping Through Straws

Yeah, who knew about this one?! Straws don't just cause mouth wrinkles! Let's think about this one... when you're not actively sipping your beverage, what's in the straw? AIR!!!! So with every sip, more air goes into your mouth and is swallowed right into your digestive tract. Just like gum, this is another secret bloat causer.

3} Carbonated Beverages

Air is a common theme here! We all know what creates those wonderful bubbles in your club soda, Lacroix & Kombucha! That's right.... AIR, BABY GIRL! So just like straws and gum, limit consumption of these beverages to only when absolutely necessary. Additionally, drinking any watery beverage during a meal actually disturbs the food break-down process. Water dilutes the acid in our stomach so we don't break down food completely. When larger food particles enter our gut, our intestines need to work harder, and thus starts up that rock hard feeling again in our stomach.

4} Eating too fast

A combination of things occur when we eat too fast. One is we tend to swallow air when we rush a meal down our throats {I told you it was a theme}. Digestion also STARTS in our mouth when our saliva breaks down food.

Try this and you'll see what I mean: Chew your food for 40 chews! It's hard to do and not swallow, but you got this... you'll see JUST how powerful our saliva is when it can turn ANYTHING you eat into basically liquid.

When we don't allow our saliva to break food down completely, our stomach has more work to do before it can pass nutrients on to our intestines. More stomach acid can be generated, irritation can occur, and thus heartburn and discomfort are sometimes created. Also, if we FREQUENTLY inhale our foods and large food particles reach our intestines, we can wear away the villi and lining in our guts. This literally creates small holes in our gut where food particles get through. In case you ever wondered what Leaky Gut is, where there ya have it! Our body perceives these food particles that sneak through as invaders and attacks them! Hence bloating, inflammation and gas are created. Once we get to this stage, its MUCH HARDER to reverse, so chew your food completely starting now!

5} FODMAP Foods

So, not to get too technical on ya, but let me tell you about FODMAPs! First of all, "what the hell is it?!" If you've ever been diagnosed with IBS, you might already be a step ahead of the game. In that case, congrats, you can skip this paragraph! If not, keep it goin...

FODMAPs are "Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols". These are typically HEALTHY foods like beans, fruits like apples and pears, vegetables like asparagus and mushrooms, and even garlic and onion. These foods have a unique sugar molecule structure. Some guts, especially if there's a history of digestive issues and gut imbalances, are missing the proper enzymes to break these sugars down. If that's the case, gas is easily generated {almost instantly} by the break-down of these foods. A diet that eliminates these foods for 3-4 weeks is recommended to give the body a break from these foods.

6} Anxiety, Adrenals, Cortisol & Hormones

Ever been super nervous and end up straight in the bathroom? That's anxiety at work! And it's directly related to our digestion.

Speaking of anxiety, did you know adrenal glands are actually a thing?! They aren't just some hypothetical molecular vibe that runs through our body... they are real live tiny glands that sit on top of your kidneys, and they take on the brunt of all our stress. The health of our adrenals also reveals itself in how we handle day-to-day stress! If you tend to handle stress with grace, you probably have great adrenal health, but if you're constantly frazzled, that's a good indicator your adrenals need a reboot.

When your adrenals are shot, your hormones can easily get thrown out of wack, emitting large doses of cortisol. It does this as a way to push you through your moment of stress and protect your tired out adrenals. Not only do these hormones trigger weight GAIN in the form of belly fat, but they also create issues with how we break down food.

When we are stressed and our hormones are working overtime to help us through it, all other bodily processes that aren't vital to survival {lung, heart, brain} are put on pause. Food only gets partially digested, we end up with those large food particles in our guts, & we end up with bloat and diarrhea because food literally is running right through us and skipping the digestion process!

So next time you're stressing out, take a deep breath, and make sure to practice self care after... your health and how you FEEL after eating LITERALLY counts on it.

7} Eating Out (even healthy food - excess sodium)

The issue with eating out is that even when you DO eat healthy, there is typically a lot of sodium hidden in these foods. Asian-prepared dishes tend to be the worst sodium culprits. Any dishes that use sauces or dressings, also typically contain added sugar and salt to bring out other flavors. Always ask the restaurant if there are lower sodium options, and when in doubt, stick to as much steamed meats & vegetables as possible. And lastly, always taste test your food before you salt it!

8} Antibiotics

Antibiotics are sometimes a thing we just can't avoid, no matter what our thoughts are on taking pills. They're needed to rid our bodies of bad bacteria, but guess what else they do? They take the good out right with the bad! Good bacteria in our guts is what aids in the breakdown of our food, so when this bacteria is missing, we end up with undigested food, or other surviving bad bacteria overgrowth {think of this like an abandoned home and the squatters take residence}. This bacteria and undigested food begins to ferment in our guts and leads to inflammation. To avoid this, next time you take antibiotics, take a good prebiotic AND probiotic with it. Your body will need the repopulation of good bacteria to continue winning the war against the bad, who have every intention of taking over your system if we let it!

9} Carbs - they hold onto water

Did you know for every gram of carb you consume, you take in 3x as much water with it?! Yep, carbs hold onto water, which practically quadruples the weight of that food in your stomach. This is why people tend to complain about feeling heavy after a carb-laden meal, or physique-competitors cut out carbs three days before a show. Even the good carbs, like farro and quinoa, can have this effect. It's not necessarily a BAD thing, but limiting these types of food will help lessen the occurrence of bloat in the body. And if you DO consume carbs, it's recommended to do so earlier in the day when you'll have the whole day to move around and help that meal move through your system.

10} NOT Drinking Water

Ever had issues taking your rings off when the weather gets warm? When you're dehydrated, your body will actually HOLD ON to water to make up for that loss, hence naturally BLOATING your body. When you're adequately consuming enough water, like 8-12 glasses a day, your body recognizes it is getting more than enough and naturally flushes itself of any excess. {Bathroom trip, anyone!?} So drink up!! But try to keep the water consumption between meals, versus during, where it can interfere with the breakdown of your food.

11} Food Intolerance / Sensitivity

Last but certainly not least, you MIGHT have a food intolerance. This is different from a food allergy, which can be life threatening. A food intolerance or sensitivity just means your body contains a smaller amount of enzymes in order to break down particular foods. Anything consumed beyond what your enzymes can break down may not digest completely and therefore may be targeted by your immune system as something to be fought off, creating inflammation in your body...i.e. BLOATING and GAS...Oh joy!

If consumption of this food continues or happens frequently enough, it can do all sorts of damage, from acid reflux to damaging the villi in your gut. The villi are what absorb nutrients in our food, so the less we have, the less nutrients get passed on to the other cells of our body that are needed for stabilizing hormones, balancing mood and energy, and responsible for repair.

Another more extreme case of constant exposure to a food we are sensitive to is Leaky Gut. This is where, after constant inflammation, holes are created in our intestinal lining that everything from medications to food particles escape through and enter our blood stream. This in turn can create extreme cases of bloating, gas, other food sensitivities, muscle aches, pains, or trigger the formation of chronic diseases.

If you believe you are struggling with food intolerances or just can't seem to banish the bloat...GET READY! KKW is launching a NEW COACHING PROGRAM this Spring just for GUT HEALTH! This 1:1 Coaching model will guide you through a step by step process to determine your unique digestive fingerprint, repair that gut, and feel good in your skinny jeans once again!


We know how frustrating it is to be doing all the right things and still not get any relief when you expect to. Hopefully, this article helped you pinpoint some things you may not have ever thought of before! End of the day, if nothing helps, it's best to see your Naturopath or preferred trusted doctor to determine if something more serious is going on, such as food allergies or auto-immune issues.

Just know that bloat is ALWAYS a sign something needs to AND CAN be fixed, the answer always lays somewhere, and there are some small things you can start with on your own to resolve it before you foot that doctors bill!


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