PCOS and Bloating: What’s Normal? Tips from a PCOS Nutritionist

Dealing with bloating is an unpleasant experience for anyone, particularly for those with PCOS, as this symptom seems to be more prevalent in women with the condition. While bloating is not a serious health issue, it can be uncomfortable and make you feel self-conscious. This post will review why you may be experiencing bloating in PCOS, what is considered normal, and when to consult a PCOS Nutritionist or other healthcare provider.

Bloating is a Normal Part of Digestion

Digestion is so cool – our bodies take the food we eat, pull all the nutrients out, and send them to the muscles, organs, and more that need them the most – it’s a vital process.

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It also makes gas, and that’s what bloating is. Imagine our intestinal tract is like a long balloon that is tied off on each end. If there were gas made within the balloon, it would rise and become firm! It’s very normal and a byproduct of digestion!

Normal Bloating Can:

  • increase throughout the day
  • decrease overnight
  • increase after a meal (temporarily)
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Bloating after you eat does not mean you have a food intolerance or immediately gain fat within 15 minutes of eating a meal!

Bloating Could Mean That You:⠀

  • ate too quickly⠀
  • don’t chew your food well⠀
  • drank through a straw⠀
  • ate a larger portion of food
  • drank something with carbonation (pop, beer, etc)⠀
  • ate a high amount of sodium⠀
  • chewed gum recently⠀
  • are stressed⠀
  • ate something that doesn’t sit well with you (i.e. my friends who are lactose intolerant & roll the dice on blizzards lol). You may also have a food intolerance!⠀
  • are PMS-ing or on your period⠀
  • need help improving your gut health⠀
  • wearing very tight pants ⠀

Know the difference between bloating in PCOS and PCOS belly in this blog post.

When is Bloating NOT Normal?

If bloating is paired with:

  • abdomen distention (you look like you have a “food baby”)
  • pain
  • nausea
  • heartburn
  • excessive gas
  • changes to bowel movements
  • persistent feedings of fullness
  • the bloating/distention does not go away

…then it’s not normal.

Is Bloating in PCOS Normal?

pcos nutritionist explains pcos to client with model

Women with PCOS are at an increased risk for IBS compared to women without PCOS.

Changing your diet and habits can help you improve your feelings of discomfort and your bloating even if you do not have IBS. However, some women with PCOS will have both IBS & PCOS. You can read more about it in my other blog post.

Since no woman with PCOS is identical, I tailor each of my guidelines for women with PCOS individually to help improve their gut health and balance their hormones in my nutrition coaching program!

My Nutrition Treatment Plan for Women with PCOS

In any assessment with women, I screen for signs of high androgen levels and high insulin levels. If I ever have concerns, I recommend that women discuss their symptoms with their primary care provider since I cannot make any diagnoses as a Registered Dietitian.

My goal is to treat PCOS holistically, help my clients navigate the healthcare system, and receive treatment for the “whole” of the condition vs. only one side, such as fertility. I also try to help women understand their condition more thoroughly, dispel diet myths, and develop compassion for themselves. It is a tough condition that is difficult to manage; beating yourself up or working with a healthcare provider who shames you in addition to these struggles is the last thing you need.

When it comes to PCOS, gut health is essential. Improving your gut health can help alleviate many PCOS-related symptoms, including bloating.

For Women with PCOS and Bloating or IBS:

  • I would recommend many foods to women with PCOS to help balance their blood sugar, including whole grains, beans, lentils, soy, vegetables, and fruit. However, these foods can also worsen gut health symptoms for those with IBS & PCOS.
  • Managing stress can also benefit your gut health and reduce bloating. Try meditation, yoga, or a relaxing bath to reduce stress levels.
  • My nutrition assessment, tailored nutrition plan, ongoing guidance & support and helping clients navigate the healthcare system help ensure my clients get the best nutrition treatment for PCOS or weight loss.

What Should You Do From Here?

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Save these tips / remember to come back here when you need them!

You can review the list next time you think you need to cut out food groups, chug a detox tea, skip a meal or start a crash diet because you feel bad from bloating.

In conclusion, dealing with bloating is a common symptom of PCOS that various factors can cause. While some causes are considered normal, paying attention to any concerning symptoms accompanying your bloating is essential. Improving your gut health, avoiding trigger foods, and managing stress can reduce bloating. If your symptoms persist despite lifestyle changes, speak to your healthcare provider for further evaluation.

If you think you may have PCOS or IBS, it’s important to get diagnosed as early as possible so you can start treatment. A holistic approach to treating PCOS is often the most successful, and I would be happy to chat with you about which treatment option might be best for you. Don’t suffer in silence – schedule your free Clarity call with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist!

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