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What Foods Cause Your Belly to Bloat?

Bloating after eating certain foods is a common occurrence. Bloating happens when your abdomen feels enlarged or swollen after eating, and it is usually caused by digestive issues like an excessive production of gas. While bloating might be a sign of an underlying health condition, more often than not, bloating is caused by something in your diet. Here are some foods that cause your belly to bloat, along with recommendations on what to eat to prevent abdominal bloating.

What Foods Cause Your Belly to Bloat?

  1. Lentils

    Lentils are a type of legumes that contain high levels of fiber, protein, and healthy carbohydrates, along with minerals like copper, manganese, and iron. Due to the high amounts of fiber present in lentils, they can cause bloating in some people with sensitive digestive systems. Lentils typically cause bloating in those people who are not used to eating too much fiber.(1, 2, 3)

    Lentils also contain FODMAPs. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols, which are a type of short-chain carbohydrates that do not get digested by the body and then undergo fermentation by the gut bacteria in the colon. Gas is one of the byproducts of this fermentation process, which causes bloating. FODMAPs can contribute to both the production of excessive gas and bloating.(4, 5)

    Soaking or sprouting the lentils before consuming them can make it easier on the digestive system. It is usually better to eat light-colored lentils if you experience bloating. Light colored ones are lower in fiber than the darker colored lentils and therefore cause less bloating.(6)

  2. Beans

    Beans are a type of legumes like lentils. They are rich in healthy carbohydrates and protein. Beans also contain high amounts of fiber, along with many vitamins and minerals.(7) While they are healthy to have, most beans also contain sugars known as alpha-galactosides, which belong to a class of carbohydrates known as FODMAPs.(8) FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols) are a type of carbohydrates that do not get digested and instead, they are fermented by the bacteria present in the colon. This fermentation process produces gas. In healthy people, FODMAPs only provide fuel for the good gut bacteria and do not cause any problems. However, for people who have digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome, the fermentation process causes another type of gas to be formed, which causes a lot of discomfort and symptoms like flatulence, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea.(9)

    Soaking and sprouting the beans before consuming them is a good way to reduce the content of FODMAPs in beans. Changing the soaking water a few times may also help.(10)

  3. Wheat

    Wheat is one food item that has been surrounded by controversies in the last couple of years. This has been because wheat contains a protein known as gluten. However, despite the controversy, wheat is still widely consumed. Wheat is an ingredient present in most bread, tortillas, pizzas, and pasta, along with baked goods like biscuits, cakes, waffles, and pancakes.

    In people who have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, consumption of wheat can cause some major digestive issues, including bloating, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain.(11, 12)

    Wheat is also another major source of FODMAPs, which are known to cause many types of digestive and gastric problems in some people.(13, 14)

    Instead of consuming wheat, you can try having many gluten-free alternatives, such as buckwheat, quinoa, pure oats, coconut flour, and almond flour. There are also several alternatives to conventional wheat bread which you can try, such as Ezekiel bread, corn tortillas, oopsie bread, rye bread, and many others.

  4. Carbonated Drinks

    Carbonated or fizzy drinks are a very common cause of bloating as these beverages contain very high amounts of the gas carbon dioxide. When you drink a carbonated beverage, you are only swallowing a huge amount of this gas. Some of this gas can become trapped in the digestive system, which causes you to feel uncomfortable. It also causes cramping and bloating.(15)

    Instead of drinking carbonated beverages, it is best to drink plain water. Other healthy alternatives to fizzy drinks include fruit-flavored still water, tea, and coffee.

  5. Broccoli and Other Cruciferous Vegetables

    The cruciferous vegetable family consists of vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and many others. While these vegetables are very healthy and contain many important nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, potassium, and fiber. However, these vegetables also contain FODMAPs, which is why they may cause bloating and other digestive issues in some people.(16)

    One way to make these vegetables easier to digest is to cook them properly. Avoid having them raw. Another alternative is to swap cruciferous vegetables with healthy options like cucumbers, spinach, sweet potatoes, zucchini, and lettuce.

  6. Barley

    Barley is a popular cereal grain that is very nutritious and rich in fiber and many vitamins and minerals like selenium, manganese, and molybdenum.(17, 18) Due to the high fiber content of barley, whole-grain barley can cause bloating in people who don’t typically eat a lot of fiber. At the same time, barley also contains gluten, which may cause problems in people who are gluten intolerant.

    Instead of barley, you can choose to have refined barley, like scotch barley or pearl barley. These are generally tolerated better. You can also replace barley with other grains like oats, brown rice, quinoa, or buckwheat.

  7. Onions

    You are unlikely to think that onions can cause bloating. However, even though onions are usually eaten in small quantities, onions are one of the main dietary sources of fructans, which are a type of soluble fibers that cause bloating.(19, 20)

    Some people are also sensitive or intolerant to other compounds found in onions, especially in raw onions.(21) This is why onions are a known cause of bloating, and it may even cause other types of digestive discomfort. Cooking the onions may help decrease these effects. As an alternative to onions, you can even use fresh herbs and spices.


Bloating is a very common problem experienced by many people. However, bloating can be relieved by making relatively simple changes to your diet. If you continue to experience digestive issues and bloating after making dietary changes, you may want to also consider trying out a low-FODMAP diet, which can be an effective dietary plan to solve bloating and other digestive problems as well.

In case your bloating continues to persist, you should consult a doctor to rule out any other serious medical condition.


  1. Vidal‐Valverde, C., Frias, J. and Esteban, R., 1992. Dietary fiber in processed lentils. Journal of Food Science, 57(5), pp.1161-1163.
  2. Bubelová, Z., Sumczynski, D. and Salek, R.N., 2018. Effect of cooking and germination on antioxidant activity, total polyphenols and flavonoids, fiber content, and digestibility of lentils (Lens culinaris L.). Journal of Food Processing and Preservation, 42(1), p.e13388.
  3. VIDAL‐VALVERDE, C.O.N.C.E.P.C.I.Ó.N. and FRIAS, J., 1991. Legume processing effects on dietary fiber components. Journal of Food Science, 56(5), pp.1350-1352.
  4. Wong, W.M., 2016. Restriction of FODMAP in the management of bloating in irritable bowel syndrome. Singapore medical journal, 57(9), p.476.
  5. Barrett, J.S. and Gibson, P.R., 2012. Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) and nonallergic food intolerance: FODMAPs or food chemicals?. Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology, 5(4), pp.261-268.
  6. Ho, K.S., Tan, C.Y.M., Daud, M.A.M. and Seow-Choen, F., 2012. Stopping or reducing dietary fiber intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms. World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG, 18(33), p.4593.
  7. Messina, M.J., 1999. Legumes and soybeans: overview of their nutritional profiles and health effects. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 70(3), pp.439s-450s.
  8. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://positivegut.com/en/fodmap-and-beans/> [Accessed 22 June 2022].
  9. Ong, D.K., Mitchell, S.B., Barrett, J.S., Shepherd, S.J., Irving, P.M., Biesiekierski, J.R., Smith, S., Gibson, P.R. and Muir, J.G., 2010. Manipulation of dietary short chain carbohydrates alters the pattern of gas production and genesis of symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome. Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology, 25(8), pp.1366-1373.
  10. Guillon, F. and Champ, M.J., 2002. Carbohydrate fractions of legumes: uses in human nutrition and potential for health. British Journal of Nutrition, 88(S3), pp.293-306.
  11. Tonutti, E. and Bizzaro, N., 2014. Diagnosis and classification of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Autoimmunity reviews, 13(4-5), pp.472-476.
  12. Di Sabatino, A. and Corazza, G.R., 2009. Coeliac disease. The Lancet, 373(9673), pp.1480-1493.
  13. Shepherd, S.J., Parker, F.C., Muir, J.G. and Gibson, P.R., 2008. Dietary triggers of abdominal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: randomized placebo-controlled evidence. Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology, 6(7), pp.765-771.
  14. Heizer, W.D., Southern, S. and McGovern, S., 2009. The role of diet in symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in adults: a narrative review. Journal of the American dietetic association, 109(7), pp.1204-1214.
  15. Cuomo, R., Sarnelli, G., Savarese, M.F. and Buyckx, M., 2009. Carbonated beverages and gastrointestinal system: between myth and reality. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 19(10), pp.683-689.
  16. Ong, D.K., Mitchell, S.B., Barrett, J.S., Shepherd, S.J., Irving, P.M., Biesiekierski, J.R., Smith, S., Gibson, P.R. and Muir, J.G., 2010. Manipulation of dietary short chain carbohydrates alters the pattern of gas production and genesis of symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome. Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology, 25(8), pp.1366-1373.
  17. Newman, R.K. and Newman, C.W., 2008. Barley for food and health: Science, technology, and products. John Wiley & Sons.
  18. Annapurna, A., 2011. Health benefits of barley. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Health Care, 3(2).
  19. Moshfegh, A.J., Friday, J.E., Goldman, J.P. and Ahuja, J.K.C., 1999. Presence of inulin and oligofructose in the diets of Americans. The Journal of nutrition, 129(7), pp.1407S-1411S.
  20. Corzo-Martínez, M., Corzo, N. and Villamiel, M., 2007. Biological properties of onions and garlic. Trends in food science & technology, 18(12), pp.609-625.
  21. Almogren, A., Shakoor, Z. and Adam, M.H., 2013. Garlic and onion sensitization among Saudi patients screened for food allergy: a hospital based study. African Health Sciences, 13(3), pp.689-693.
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 29, 2022

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