I'll just start this off by saying that the reason for this blog is that I feel like there is a grave misconception between being bloated vs being full. I think that as a whole in society we are taught that in order for us to have the goals that we want to have, we must be hungry. We aren't allowed to fully fill ourselves up or that is an association with weight gain and that is just simply not the truth. Our bodies are meant to go through cycles of hunger and fullness. After meals, your belly might even be distended because that's what belly's do when they are full. This does not mean that you are bloated.
Bloated is a completely different thing, and the actual definition of bloating is to be filled with fluid or gas. Your belly will be big even if there was no food in it. Even if you eat A LOT in complete overabundance, you are still not necessarily bloated. Bloating is a very uncomfortable and sometimes painful situation, but it's so very different than being full.
When you are a child and your parents give you food, you eat it until you don't want it anymore and then you stop when you are full. However, we have really changed the way that we think of fullness and what that means for us personally. Typically in society, we are told that we are supposed to eat 3 times per day and so most people eat in cyclical ways that allows them to be hungry and full at these specific moments during the day. I personally believe that there is really no number that should be placed. I think that eating small meals is great for digestion, but I don't think that you have to do this if it's not what you prefer. The thought that eating 6 meals per day will speed up your metabolism is completely false, and the research just simply doesn't support that. It all comes down to caloric intake and macro distribution. If you decide that eating 3 meals is what you want to do then you have to be FULL in those 3 meals. Let's say that your calories are 2000 then that's 666 calories at each meal which if you eat a relatively healthy diet, then that could be a lot of food.
The key is what you're eating. If you are eating McDonalds then no, you might not be completely satisfied and full on a 650 calorie meal. If you are eating from your house and something clean that you prepare then you will most definitely be full on that many calories. You might actually feel bloated from that meal because it's full of fiber, and fiber causes gas. But you need to learn to distinguish between that and the actual feeling of fullness. Being full is good. Being full is GREAT!!
Proper digestion is the only way that you'll be able to not be bloated though if you are eating large meals that are full of fiber. You want to eat tons of fiber, but you also want to be going to the bathroom. I'm going to link up an article that I wrote a while back about bowel movement issues. It's something that is very present in my life, and has been since I was a little girl. Some simple steps that I think that we all know but that I'll go ahead and share that you should do are:
- Make sure to drink plenty of water
There are calculations that you can figure out how much water you need, but the biggest indicator of your hydration status is your pee. Are you peeing clear? If so, then you are hydrated. There is no need to force hydrate if you are peeing clear already.
- Eat fiber but not too much fiber
Fiber is good but there is a limitation to when you are just going to feel ACTUAL bloat because of the gas formation from eating too much of it. I personally feel this whenever I eat a quest bar because it's such a dense source of fiber, and many girls say they can have a quest bar and immediately go to the bathroom. The typical recommendation is around 25-30g fiber per day so if you are struggling and eating less or more than that, then maybe track and see if there are some changes you can make.
- Take something if you are in a situation that you need it but don't continue to take something if you have not consulted your doctor
Laxative abuse is a real thing and sometimes unintentionally, you mess up the muscles and nerve endings in your colon and have to retrain yourself to go to the bathroom again. This is not a situation that you want to be in, so if you have been taking something for a two week period and feel that you need to continue to be regular, then you want to consult with a doctor. However, truthfully, I feel lots of frustrations with literature in the world of GI issues. I think that they are doing a lot of work and studies to try and find medications that help those with idiopathic constipation since birth, but it's still a growing area so it's hard to really get much accomplished.
- Make sure that you don't have structured malformations
This might require a procedure, and it's like really a last line step, but you just don't want to have anything wrong and not know about it and think it's just constipation and bloating.
- DONT EAT TOO MUCH PROTEIN-Make sure you are eating plenty of soft carbs
This is SO SO common. When girls are dieting, they keep their protein super high and then they can't go to the bathroom because they don't have enough carbs to make things soft in there. They don't go to the bathroom which in turns makes them feel bloated, which in turn makes them want to eat less and diet more, and it is a TERRIBLE cycle. I see this legit all the time, so it really does take like a month long span where you are focusing on eating more carb and working your way out of it even if you feel uncomfortable for a few days.
- Take something daily that's gentle until you can get a regular cycle going (such as Fiber supplements or Miralax-I think food is medicine but sometimes a sister needs a little help).
I know that GI issues are very common and bloating can be very real, but it is important to know the difference and know that being full is a healthy process for your body to go through and it's great for your mental and physical well being. If you are hungry all of the time, then that is no way to live and that is your body telling you that it needs more fuel. Those signals are there for a reason.