Ayurveda and Digestion: Why Do I Feel Bloated After Eating?
If you've ever felt gassy and bloated after a meal, you're not alone! It happens to everyone, from time to time. Fortunately, the Ayurvedic approach to eating can help you to ease discomfort in the moment--and avoid it in the first place.
Why do I feel occasionally bloated after eating?
In most cases, the odd bout of bloating comes from eating something that doesn't agree with you, which in turn can cause intestinal gas. And if your elimination happens to be backed up that day, it can make things even worse!
In Ayurveda, suppressing bodily urges is not recommended; so if you have to pass gas, by all means step out of the room and do so! And knowing some of the common causes of occasional bloating can help you head gassiness off at the pass.
Common causes for occasional bloating after eating include:
Eating too much
Eating too quickly
Eating when stressed
What foods can trigger bloating?
A bit of occasional indigestion and bloating is normal from time to time, but certain foods and beverages make it more likely. These include:
Greasy or fatty foods
Alcoholic beverages such as beer and champagne
Chewing gum (as a habit, not a food!)
Other common culprits include beans, legumes, cruciferous vegetables, and dairy (if tolerated)--but they are well worth consuming for their nutritional benefits. If these foods cause occasional gassiness for you, try cooking them with warming Ayurvedic spices--such as ginger and cumin--to ease discomfort. Warm milk with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg makes a delicious bedtime beverage.
Your digestive fire (agni) and bloating
From the perspective of Ayurveda, feeling bloated after eating can also be caused by low agni (digestive fire). When your digestive fire burns strong, you tend to digest your meals well, assimilate nutrients easily, and experience comfortable and regular elimination. Strong agni is also associated with ojas (life essence), a subtle substance that is the byproduct of good digestion. People with strong agni and ample ojas tend to have clear skin, good energy levels, balanced mental and emotional health, and strong immunity.
When, on the other hand, your digestive fire is a bit low, it can lead to digestive disturbances. You may have difficulty digesting your meals and experience issues like occasional indigestion, bloating, belching, diarrhea, or sluggish elimination. Your nutrient assimilation may not be as efficient. Sluggish digestion can also lead to the accumulation of ama, sticky digestive toxins that--if left unchecked--can hamper your digestion and immunity down the road.
Bloating, diet, and the doshas
The degree to which you experience occasional bloating after eating also has to do with your Ayurvedic dosha type, or mind-body type. In Ayurveda, there are three different mind-body energies, or doshas--Vata, Pitta, and Kapha--and each one is associated with elements in nature.
Vata is associated with air and space. Vata dosha's qualities are erratic, quick-moving, dry, rough, and cool. When out of balance, Vata types can be prone to erratic digestion, or to dry and hard bowel movements. They can also be prone to occasional gassiness and bloating, due to excess wind in the digestive tract. (When air and space move, you have wind!) Tips for balancing Vata dosha.
Pitta is associated with fire and water. Vata dosha's qualities are fiery, hot, sharp, and intense. When out of balance, Pitta types tend to have a high digestive fire and to be prone to heat-related digestive issues, such as occasional acid indigestion or diarrhea, and "hot" gas. Tips for balancing Pitta dosha.
Kapha is associated with earth and water. Kapha dosha's qualities are slow, oily, earthy, and easygoing. When out of balance, Kapha types tend to experience sluggish digestion and elimination with heavy, oily stools. They may also experience heaviness in the intestines sometimes. Tips for balancing Kapha dosha.
Don't know your Ayurvedic dosha type? Take our free Dosha Quiz to learn more about the foods, exercises, and daily rituals that will make you feel your best.
How can Ayurveda help/reduce bloating after eating?
Eating to balance your dosha type is one of the best ways to promote digestive discomfort like bloating and gas. And, as we've discussed, avoiding gas-promoting foods can be beneficial, too.
Beyond that, Ayurveda recommends consuming a bit of fresh, grated ginger before meals to stimulate digestive enzymes and strengthen your digestion naturally. You can also take Herbal Di-Gest with meals. This traditional Ayurvedic formula promotes healthy digestion and helps you with gas, bloating, and discomfort after meals.
If occasional constipation is an issue, try Organic Triphala Rose. Triphala is an ancient, natural Ayurvedic formula that tones the entire digestive system and promotes regular elimination. Learn more about triphala's many benefits.
You may also want to try an easy, at-home Ayurvedic cleanse a few times a year to give your digestive system a break.
For more helpful, natural resources, check out our Ayurvedic Digestion Wellness Hub!