How to Debloat After Enjoying a Big Meal
When you're enjoying an epic, delicious meal, it's easy to accidentally eat too much, leaving you feeling totally overstuffed and bloated. The sensation of being too full is admittedly not a great feeling. The good news is, there's something you can do about it.
First and foremost, registered dietitian Dalina Soto, RD, LDN, wants you to know that bloating after eating is completely normal and part of digestion. "It's normal to eat past the point of fullness when enjoying food," she says. Bloating can also happen after overeating, or eating to the point of feeling uncomfortable. (It happens!) However, you should never skip meals in "preparation" for a feast you plan on having, she says. This can make you even more likely to overeat since you limited yourself prior.
On the other hand, frequent painful bloating after meals could indicate a different problem. Extreme bloating can be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) especially after eating "trigger foods" (aka those high in FODMAPs), says Tessa Nguyen, RD, LDN, a chef and registered dietitian who works with many clients who have IBS. The debloating tips that follow are for people who do not have larger issues related to bloating, such as IBS. If you've been diagnosed with IBS (or think you might have it), speak with your doctor or a dietitian for more specific guidance in managing your diet.
When you do end up bloated after overeating or enjoying a big meal, these nine tips will help you overcome it. And keep in mind this advice from Nguyen: special occasions, and the food that comes with them, are meant to be enjoyed, period. While you can do your best to listen to your fullness cues, if you do overeat, don't stress. We're here to help.
Water Is Your Best Friend
Drinking water may feel counterintuitive when you're full, but it will keep your digestive system moving and help prevent constipation — it's something both Soto and Nguyen suggested. "The amount of water each person needs varies, but a good rule of thumb is to check your urine," Nguyen says. "If it's clear to light yellow, you're hydrated. If it's darker, you may want to drink more water or liquids."
Plus, if your meal was salty, staying well hydrated helps flush the sodium out of your system. Skip the after-dinner alcoholic beverage and opt for H2O instead.
Take a Gentle Walk
Samantha Nazareth, MD, board-certified gastroenterologist, told POPSUGAR in a previous interview that staying on your feet can help promote digestion. One of the simplest ways to ease stomach discomfort after overeating is going for a walk.
Nguyen said she favored gentle postmeal walks for digestion, but the key word is gentle. "Rigorous exercise right after a meal might even cause you to become more uncomfortable and even sick," she says.
Nguyen and Soto agree that doing some light yoga can aid your GI tract. Try this 14-pose yoga sequence or specific stretches for bloating to ease discomfort from feeling overstuffed. We're also big fans of Adriene Mishler's (RYT 200) 13-minute yoga video for digestion, which leads you through a gentle flow perfect for after a big meal or when things feel stuck. Pick your flow, and take it slow.
Sip Some Tea
Hot tea is a great choice after a big meal, for starters, because it helps hydrate you. Because drinking tea boosts your water intake, it typically helps reduce bloating symptoms by increasing stool volume, helping with the elimination of stool, decreasing constipation, and removing toxins from the body, as Natasha Fuksina, MD, a double-board certified internal and obesity medicine specialist, previously told POPSUGAR.
Ginger is especially soothing for a bloated belly, as its anti-inflammatory properties can ease stomach pain and help with digestion. Peppermint tea can ease stomachaches, too. Both teas are easy to make (or buy).
Get the recipe: Ginger Tea
Next-Day Tip: Fill Up on Fiber
Fiber, in general, is great for digestion, Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDN, previously told POPSUGAR. When you wake up the following day after eating a big meal, start with a fiber-rich breakfast. Try a warm bowl of oatmeal or a chia pudding.
More fiber-rich foods include veggies, fruits, and whole grains. The daily recommendation for fiber consumption for adults is about 25 grams per day.
Next-Day Tip: Work Up a Sweat
Getting your heart rate up may help you beat the lethargy that comes with bloating. You don't even need to leave your home — here's a 30-minute HIIT cardio workout you can do in your living room that requires zero equipment, plus 13 other editor-approved workout videos. (You'll find both cardio and strength classes.)
Remember: you should not do heavy exercise right after a big meal, so save these for the next day. Plus, Nguyen added, "Using exercise as a 'punishment' for eating, holidays or not, is never healthy." Keep that in mind.
Next-Day Tip: Skip Out on Foods That Are Difficult to Digest
Even though it's encouraged to eat fiber-filled and well-balanced meals the day after you overeat, it's also important to give your stomach a break. Dr. Nazareth suggests skipping beans and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts). Although they're high in fiber, they can be difficult to digest and can increase bloating. However, she did say that eating these veggies cooked is better on the gut than eating them raw.
Change Your Mindset
The worst thing you can do is beat yourself up about overeating. "Dieting culture has hammered into our brains that food is for survival, not for pleasure," Nguyen noted. Bloating after a big meal is, as we mentioned, normal, and it's OK to want to debloat as a result. But try to let go of any harbored shame or negativity, consider some of the tips mentioned here, and focus on doing activities that you enjoy. If all else fails, time will do the trick.