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Can’t fasten the clasp on your khakis? You might blame it on retaining water, but the truth is that most bloating is caused by gas, says Dr. Alan Cockeram, a Saint John, N.B., gastroenterogist. Unpassed gas in your abdomen and intestinal tract can make your stomach feel like a balloon. What causes it and how can you deflate? Here are four common culprits and cures, plus strategies on how to deal with water retention when it really is the problem.                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Liza Finlay

Last night’s bean burrito

When the large intestine breaks down fibre-rich foods such as beans, which contain raffinose sugar, it sometimes generates large amounts of gas.

  • keep eating it. The body adapts to raffinose sugars with practice.
  • try Beano, which contains an enzyme that eases digestion, available at drugstores
  • soak beans and lentils before cooking

Swallowing air

Eating too quickly or over indulging in carbonated beverages and excessive gum chewing all fill the belly.

  • use a straw to cut down on air intake from soft drinks
  • put your knife and fork down while chewing to slow down meals and reduce air intake
  • swap your gum for mints

Drive-thru diet

A diet that is low in fibre creates hardened stools, which may cause constipation. Insufficient fluid intake and activity can also make you constipated.

  • drink more water and hit the gym  
  • bulk up on fibre; enjoy whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits
  • a laxative may be a quick fix, but talk to a doctor before long-term use. It may have serious consequences, such as inflammation of the small intestine.


Stress may irritate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), whish is associated with intestinal contractions during digestion that are too intense or not intense enough, causing diarrhea or constipation and gas.

  • try to find practical ways to reduce stress
  • medication may provide some relief for serious IBS
  • eat more fibre to bulk and soften stools, easing their passage

That time of the month

When you are premenstrual, hormonal fluctuations and craving into salty food occurs. Those cravings can cause water retention.

  • eat natural diuretics such as watermelon, cucumber and celery
  • in severe cases, your doctor may describe a diuretic pill
  • wait it out, wear loose clothing and know that this, too, shall pass

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