Bloating is something that many of us experience and it can be for a whole host of reasons, ranging from hormones, food allergies, intolerances, poor digestion, eating too late, eating too much, eating not enough, stress, emotion, anxiety, tiredness…the list is endless!
I do have a sensitive stomach so when it comes to bloating this is something very close to my heart, it has also been a serious cause of irritation with my body, somehow bloating just makes you feel miserable, fat, heavy and lethargic, it really does hamper how your feel about your body and has this knack of making you feel like all your good efforts are in vein.
This leads me on to another issue of bloating, it is not just the case that people who over eat and under exercise are subject to bloating, me personally, and many of my clients, who are fit, careful about their food and try to take good care of themselves suffer with bloating. So you see there really is something else going on here beyond the simplistic and uninspired analogy of you’re eating too much and you’re not exercising enough!
Quite the contrary, exercising too much, creating physical stress, through which your body responds via retaining water, slower down digestion and fundamental disturbance of its own balance and wellbeing can be the prime cause of bloating. Surely the time has passed that we adopt such outdated and restrictive views of our body, weight and bloating? The calories in versus calories out equation, the no pain no gain mantra and the run until you can run no longer, even if you do feel like you are going to be sick, ethos…need I go on?
For the purpose of this piece I confess, I have done all of the above, yes I’ve thrown up, many times after exercising too much and yes I’ve pushed through the pain barrier even when my body said stop and yes I have under eaten…and through it all bloating was that irritating feeling I just couldn’t get rid of, despite being the typical ‘gym bunny’. So, what to do, actually looking back I am pretty thankful of my bloated tummy because it was trying to tell me that something was not right, that there was something very wrong about what I was putting my body through. I must add that no matter how much I messed with my diet nothing seemed to work, carb free, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free…you name it, I did it, and it did NOT work!
The first break through came when I had to stop working out through injury, something strange happened, instead of feeling heavier I began to feel lighter…something I could not ignore and was much to my surprise back then. After some reading and research I found that there is a direct link between stress, whether that be physical, mental or emotional, and bloating.
There are too many of us fighting our body, literally, exercising to exhaustion and still feeling bloated, I know because many are my clients! The point is not to stop exercising, just to do so in an intelligent and inspired way, this means listening to your body and only doing that which feels good and energises you, any more and you leave your body weak and tired and this causes bloating.
Recently I wrote an article for The National newspaper about simple ways to reduce bloating, one of my points was to stop OVER exercising which received the following response from a reader…“The advice about exercise is not appropriate. Noticeable water retention due to exercise would only occur after very extreme exertion – not something most people need to worry about – and even then it is only temporary. Getting lots of exercise is essential for a strong and healthy body. If you advice people to do less exercise, sadly they are more likely to get out of shape and “bloated” than the gym bunnies who do actually work to stay in shape. If you are not exercising to the point of exhaustion on a fairly regular basis, it is not going to make a significant difference. I am astonished to read this bad advice considering the obesity problems that currently afflict the UAE’s population. People need to exercise a lot more, and doing so to exhaustion is the primary way to achieve progression.”
Bloating is non discriminatory against weight, people of all shapes, sizes and BMI’s can suffer with bloating. However, the reader is quite correct, there are many people that would benefit from exercising more often, BUT, whilst obesity is a significant challenge in the UAE, and indeed around the world, to treat it as the problem itself is not helpful. Obesity, just like anorexia, are not problems, they are symptoms, symptoms of discomfort and disconnection with our body and how nature intended us to be eating, thinking, feeling, living and ultimately ‘Be’ing. In my experience, and with the many clients I have had the fortune of working, sticking to the ‘no pain no gain’ mantra and diet mentality only serves to move people further away from their health and wellbeing rather than closer to it. At a point in time where there has never been this many diets, this many exercise programs, this many exercise machines, this many of all things to do with diet and exercise, there has never been so many people feeling so uncomfortable and disconnected with their own body and self than there is today, and as a result there are more people with obesity, anorexia and everything in between than ever before.
I hope that we learn to be kinder to our body, I hope that we begin to see the amazing wisdom that our body is capable of and if we just gently gently, feed it nourishing foods, move and exercise in a way that feels good and nurtures positivity and strength then we will finally realise that pain only breeds more pain whilst ease brings our body relief, and this is where lightness, and peace, is to be found…and a bloat free tummy!
To read the full article please see here The National – How to Reduce Bloating