One of the main concerns I get from clients transitioning to a vegan diet is “How do you prevent bloating and gas on a vegan diet?”
Fair enough concern when you are about to start eating a diet that naturally high fiber.
Anytime you change your diet your digestive system has to adapt. Especially if you start eating a diet rich in fiber (aka adding more fruits and veggies into your meals). When you are eating the Standard American Diet (aka SAD) most people are only getting around 15–20 grams of fiber. The daily recommended amount is around 30 grams. So when you start adding in more veggies, grains and fruits, and eating less processed foods, meat and dairy, your body is getting A LOT more fiber, which can shock your digestive system resulting in the ever pleasant bloating and gas.
Just remember, this is totally normal and to be expected. Some people experience it for a few days and some for a few weeks. Don’t worry too much about it. Just give your body some time to adjust. (This is also why I’m a fan of the “crowding out method”: slowly crowding out the not so great food on your plate with more plant based whole foods so it gives your body sometime to adjust instead of going cold turkey).
THERE ARE SOME OTHER WAYS TO HELP CURB YOUR BLOAT AND GAS IN THE MEAN TIME:
- Eating slower and chewing more thoroughly. If you take one thing from this article, this should be it. Slow down when you eat! When you woof down your meals in three seconds and barely chew it, it’s not going to digest well. Chewing your food thoroughly means your stomach will have an easier time digesting it. Also, when you eat super fast you end up swallowing a lot of air which turns into (you guessed it) GAS. You should be aiming to chew each bite of food 30 times (on average we chew each bite 8 times). Aim for 15–20 times per bite and work your way up. BONUS: When you thoroughly chew your food you notice when you are full sooner which can lead to weightloss.
- Drink a glass of water with each meal. You are eating more fiber (hurray!) so you need more water. “ Soluble fiber absorbs water to become a gel-like mass. This characteristic enables it to slow down the rate at which food leaves your stomach, which helps you feel full. It also prevents spikes in blood sugar by moderating the absorption of carbohydrates and lowers cholesterol by carrying it out of your system. Insoluble fiber doesn’t absorb fluid, but traps and retains water pulled from your intestine, which adds bulk and moisture to waste and prevents constipation.” source So make sure you are drinking enough water to help keep fiber moving.
- Eat fruit on an empty stomach or no sooner then two hours after your last meal. Fruit digests super fast and if you eat it right after a big meal it just sits on top of the slower digesting food, fermenting and causing gas. You should eat your fruit in the morning or as an afternoon snack, I wouldn’t recommend eating it as a dessert.
- Take a probiotic. I take a probiotic just about every morning with lemon water to kick start my digestion. I also started to incorporate more probiotic rich foods in my diet (kombucha, vegan kimchi, Coconut Cult yogurt and sauerkraut).
- Take a digestive enzyme with meals. When I dine out or travel I always bring some digestive enzymes with me to help with my digestion.
- Cook your beans with kombu. Kombu is a member of the kelp family. The amino acids in it help soften beans and make them more digestible when you cook with it. You can just put a strip of it in your cooking beans. After an hour or so the kombu will have dissolved.
- Put ginger in everything. I’m honestly surprised that I don’t sweat ginger. I put it in everything. I also drink ginger tea in between meals and after dinner. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and a great digestion aid. I also add it to smoothies, cooked veggies and stir frys.
I hope these tips will help you transition into a bloat free fall. By the way, if your symptoms are severe, you should definitely go to your doctor for a check up. A few years ago my digestion was severely out of wack and I got tested for celiacs. My dad has celiacs so I was concerned that I may have it too. Turns out I have a gluten sensitivity so I just do my best to avoid it, except for sourdough which doesn’t have the same negative reaction as like, a white bagel. I’m a big proponent of listening to your body and seeing what foods work and what don’t.