Beating Holiday Bloat

Feeling bloated after overdoing it at your holiday gatherings?

Rather than suffer and have to look for ways to remedy the situation, why not just not get bloated in the first place?

Let’s start with a little background.

First, what is bloating? 

For anyone lucky enough to never have experienced it, imagine a pressure within your abdomen that can feel so intense, it’s as though a tube attached to a bicycle pump were placed down your throat and inflated in your belly.

Abdominal bloating is a condition in which the abdomen feels uncomfortably full and tight and may be visibly swollen (distended). Bloating is a common complaint, affecting between 10-30% of adults.[1]

But that doesn’t mean bloating is “normal”. 

Yes, you might experience it, and your sister might and so might your mother but common does not mean acceptable. 

And it also doesn’t mean it’s something you’re stuck with. 

It’s an uncomfortable subject to discuss, but a more uncomfortable thing to experience. 

This inherently creates higher likelihood of having less exposure to natural ways to address this issue: as in, what are you eating that is making you constipated and bloated in the first place.

It’s just awful and, back before I learned about Paleo, I had the joy of experiencing bloating on a regular basis. 

I ultimately figured out it was being caused primarily by eating gluten and soy. 

No matter what fiber supplement I took or oat-bran muffin-cake the doctors told me I needed, nothing helped until I stopped creating the situation in the first place. In other words, I needed to stop ingesting the foods that were causing problems so then, and only then, all those uncomfortable side effects finally began to dissipate.

The problem is that people aren’t made aware of how important what they’re eating is in this, as well as any type of health related scenario. 

Even worse, we’re told that it’s normal; one recent article that suggested that bloating is simply part of a woman’s aging process [2] as ability to properly digest food and assimilate nutrients will slow during the course of one’s life, so get used to it as there’s not much that can be done. 

Again, if we don’t eat foods that we cannot digest, we can sidestep this whole process in its entirety. Bloating can occur when the digestion process is halted.

Foods that cause bloating and gassiness include gluten as well as gluten-free grains, dairy (the proteins in dairy are cross reactive with those in gluten), legumes (the children’s tune about beans being good for the heart, but the more you eat…didn’t come from nowhere!) [3].

When you begin to implement a true Paleo diet approach, the focus turns to whole, complete, local fresh food that our bodies can properly and easily digest. 

Wondering what the best Paleo foods to eat are in order to avoid bloating? 

All of them!

So guess what happens to that bloating, gassiness and other GI disorders that may have become all too commonplace? 

Say goodbye to them forever!

Below are my top five things to avoid to decrease the chances of feeling bloated:

  • Grains, even gluten-free.  High in fiber, yes, but fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. Abruptly increasing the amount of fiber you eat can cause gas, bloating, and constipation (4). Furthermore, the antinutrients in grains, gluten (a protein) and phytic acid (phytates) interfere with proper absorption of many vitamins and minerals in food, contribute to bloating in the short-term and leaky gut down the road.
  • Beans, including soy and peanuts.  Like grains, legumes also contain anti nutrients (lectins) and can have similar effects.
  • Artificial sugars (The Food and Drug Administration requires products that may result in a daily consumption of 50 grams of sorbitol to include a warning label that they “may have a laxative effect”) and refined carbohydrate. 
  • Conventional Dairy (raw butter and cream are a completely different story).  More than one in 10 adults are lactose intolerant, and bloat is an all-too-common symptom, according to a 2009 Baylor College of Medicine study.
  • Food additives or replacements designed to make trending versions of other foods, such as those found in ‘keto’ cookies, ‘paleo waffles’ or ‘gluten-free’ cake.   This isn’t to say these foods as a broad category must be avoided; rather, just be sure you know what the ingredients are and from whence they came as well as what their side effects might be.   One example is arrowroot, a plant-based thickener used in lieu of all purpose flour to make gluten free gravy and sauces.  Interestingly, it’s also indicate as a remedy for infants with diarrhea due to its ability to increase fecal bulk (5).   One other check: when reading the ingredients, can you pronounce them?   

There are times, however when things are beyond control and you may accidentally ingest an unfavorable food or ingredient.

In the event the latter occurs, there’s no quick fix for getting the toxins out of your system, but the list of real foods below can help soothe your stomach and help you feel better a bit more quickly.


Good to have on hand in case of food poisoning, activated charcoal can help to absorb toxins in the body, which can facilitate your return to your comfort zone.


Naturally high in anti-inflammatory properties, fresh ginger root is also indicated to help soothe the stomach.  Chop it up, steep in hot water and serve it up with some lemon in your favorite mug.


Healing, soothing and delish to boot, having some homemade broth on hand in the freezer in small portion sizes is a great way to ensure you’ve got something to rely on when something happens that leaves you feeling under the weather. (Keep it in mind for fighting off colds, too!)


Also helpful in calming an irritated stomach, fresh mint can easily be steeped into a hot tea, or even chewed; the most natural substitute for chewing gum, without the cow-chewing-its-cud visual!


One of the basics, yes, but something often overlooked. Increasing water intake, without overdoing it, of course, can help facilitate toxins leaving the body through excretion. Drink up!

Yet one more benefit of following a True Paleo regime is it’s a natural way to prevent bloating, which also means a flatter tummy, too.

By being savvy about what you’re choosing to put in your body, you can make the best food choices for your body that will allow you to enjoy the holidays (or any gathering) without consequence.


[1] “What Causes Abdominal Bloating? 48 Possible Conditions.” Abdominal Bloating: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 June 2015.

[2] “Middle Age Bloating & Belly Fat.” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 02 June 2015.

[3] “Food That Make You Bloat (And What To Eat To Prevent It).” The Huffington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 June 2015.