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How to Start Eating a Vegetarian Diet Without Getting Gassy

You Asked: My Vegetarian Diet Is Making Me Gassy

Dear Fit,
I am trying the vegetarian lifestyle and have finally given up bacon and hamburgers and went meat-free. I have a family history of obesity, heart disease, and cancer, and have read that a diet rich in fruits and veggies can play a huge role in prevention. I've been loading up on the green veggies, beans, fruits, and tofu. My taste buds don't really miss meat, but it hasn't even been a week and I'm having some, well, unpleasant side effects. I'm unbelievably bloated and gassy all the time, and am close to giving up on my veggie quest. Is it possible that my body is trying to tell me that a vegetarian diet isn't right for me, or is there a way to go about this so that I'm not feeling so inflated?
— Puffed Up

First of all, I applaud you for taking your health into your own hands and going meat-free. Your body is greatly benefiting from consuming less saturated fat and more plant-based proteins. I'm actually not surprised that you're experiencing such embarrassing and uncomfortable side effects, but that doesn't mean you can't become a vegetarian. To hear my suggestions


From your diet description, you're doing everything right with your food choices, but there's such a thing as too much, too soon. Vegetarian foods are very high in fiber, and if your digestive system isn't used to that, it translates to gas and maybe even diarrhea. So my advice is to slowly ease into this diet. Be a flexitarian for a while. Consume your old diet that includes meat, and gradually increase your fruit, vegetable, legume, and whole grain intake as you fade out the meat. At first, eat small portions of foods that are especially gas-producing such as broccoli, beans, green peppers, apples, and high fiber cereals. Slowly increase the portion size over time and the gassiness should begin to dissipate. Making the switch to a vegetarian lifestyle overnight is a shock to your system, so all you need to do is move forward slowly, listen to your body, and you'll be meat-free (and less bloated) within a few weeks.

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Join The Conversation
goatimpact goatimpact 7 years
I cook with ginger a lot which helps.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
Charcoal pills also work well to reduce gas. I had to take them for about a week when I started eating wholemeal and multigrain bread.
biarose biarose 7 years
I find that whenever I start eating a healthy diet filled with plenty of veggies, after a period of not eating many, I get quite gassy and bloated for the first week or so, but it always gets better.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I eat mainly a vegetarian diet...lately I've been eating some tuna and fish because I was having problems getting enough protein in my diet (I don't care for soy/tofu for the most part). What really helps me with the gas is activated charcoal tabs. If you take them after you eat, they help your body get rid of the gas quickly.
insanitypepper insanitypepper 7 years
I don't recall having these kinds of problems when I went vegetarian, but I definitely experienced a lot of gastric distress when I started eating meat again ten years later.
2muchtv 2muchtv 7 years
When eating beans, if you soak them overnight (the dried beans obv, not canned) prior to cooking, it helps to remove some gas. Add this to prevent gas: I add that to every dish I cook, and you don't taste it (well, I don't anyway). Also, I've heard that if you do eat the bloating foods (broccoli, etc), eat small portions throughout the day, don't make it a large portion of your meal just, and cooking helps, don't eat it raw yet.
SillyGirl SillyGirl 7 years
My suggestions (I'm a semi-veggie with IBS so I feel your pain): Eat lots of yogurt. Don't eat "rough" stuff on an empty stomach, like apples, broccoli, etc.I always combine them with something more digestable (e.g. cook apples and serve them with oatmeal). Also, don't overdo the dependence on soy. Lots of soy products have much more in them then soy (look at the ingredient labels, some of them have over 20 ingredients - yikes!). Those additives/chemicals can bloat you. Finally, make sure you are drinking lots of water. And if you get gross and bloated, the best medicine (in my opinion) is phazyme.
ella1978 ella1978 7 years
mamasitamali - I am OK on protein now - but, working out a lot I sometimes crave it, and it isn't super easy to get for me. I can't just open up a can of beans and start eating, you know? I get enough, but I sometimes do wish for a litte more and a lot of vegetarian protein options are filled with sodium and calories. I know when you get pregnant, you need a bit more to supply a growing baby with enough protein - that's why I'd consider bringing chicken back.. shoot I've considered that anyways just for another lean protein option - or option when you go out to eat so that you can enjoy something that isn't covered in cheese because they don't know how to cook something w/o meat any other way... Anyways, I quit because of the taste too. I was 16 - never really liked the taste. I'd put a ton of condiments on whatever I ate to cover up the taste - so I phased it out, wasn't worth eating something I didnt like!!!
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
I have the gas problem too when I consume too much beans and certain veggies. I actually found that light exercising like a long walk after dinner helps to ease some of that gas pain and my hubby isn't forced to smell any of it since we're outside and it blows away.
michlny michlny 7 years
Sounds like she may benefit from probiotics as well.....
Beaner Beaner 7 years
I've been a vegetarian for almost 20 years (started when I was 13), and I made the decision way back because of animal rights issues - I was quite the animal lover. And I'm still a vegetarian for the same reasons, although heart problems and high cholesterol run in my family, so I also feel it's a healthier lifestyle for me. Beans are hardest for me to digest and phasing them in slowly was the key. Eating them with rice or another easily digestible grain may help.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 7 years
thats funny you say that ella just about having balanced and not "meaty" protein back in your diet... my sister has been a vegetarian literally since childhood (she just never really liked the taste of meat), but she said the only way she'd ever go un-veggie for awhile is when she's pregnant. her thought is, if my body and unborn baby wants a big juicy steak, I'm going to listen to it.
ella1978 ella1978 7 years
When I started becoming a veggie, I kept Chicken and some fish in my diet for a while, then phased them out. I have already considered that when my fiance and I decide to have children, I'll probably add chicken back. It doesn't have an overwhelming meat taste, it isn't red meat, and it's lean protein - so as long as it's prepared correctly it isn't bad for you.. but we'll see what I do.
Niami Niami 7 years
Most everyone has the reaction to suddenly switching to vegetarian. It has to be done slowly. One thing that helped me was rinsing all canned beans REALLY well. I like black beans a lot, but couldn't handle even 1/4 of a cup at a time. Now those and lentils are just fine.
Jess8902 Jess8902 7 years
Beano works too:) Really!
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