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Old 06-17-2010, 02:09 PM   #1
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Swollen belly :(

I notice that a lot of foods make my belly feel swollen, especially a high fiber cereal. It's very frustrated because I feel bloated almost every day lately. I unfortunately put on a little bit of weight and am having trouble with my stomach. I've been trying to eat a better diet and resist the treats that sit within yards of me at work. Today there was a beautiful pineapple cake up there and I was proud that I didn't even have a bite. Unfortunately I haven't seen any changes when I do avoid the treats.

As a background, I've had trouble with my lower stomach since November last year. I had surgery for two inguinal hernias. My stomach flattened out for the most part after about two months, but I still had a little pooch. I still have that pooch, and it feels hard! I love to work out and regularly do cardio and strength training. I like Pilates as well. Unfortunately since I stopped running (to give my knees a break), I notice a big difference... I have to be very strict with my eating habits. I feel like I'm working out just as hard, sweating a lot, etc, but I guess I'm just not burning as much as I used to.

I recently had trouble feeling full. I kept feeling hungry quite often. I started eating a higher fiber and higher protein cereal each morning, which is one of the few foods that fill me up. Unfortunately it makes me feel quite bloated. Everyone says that you get used to adding more fiber to your diet, but I've never successfully been able to eat cereal and feel okay with years of trying! I do like fruits and veggies, but if I eat them on an empty stomach, I get very bloated and my stomach hurts. It's uncomfortable and I get that feeling that my stomach feels hard and swollen.

Unfortunately my workouts are not helping. I feel like I HAVE to start running again, but my knees were starting to ache more and more from all the running on pavement (I don't really have other surfaces to run on).

Any tips on how I can help with this? What foods may help and what should I avoid? I have a very sensitive stomach! I was feeling very insecure about this, enough that I have taken pregnancy tests to make sure that isn't a possibility, but that was not the case.

 
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Old 06-17-2010, 04:25 PM   #2
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Re: Swollen belly :(

Hi tUrRrRa,

It seems like the most common cause is irregular digestive processes or it might be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In the book, "The Maker's Diet", the author tells the story of his own experience with IBS. He eventually found a diet that worked for him but I don't know if it will work for everyone. I don't remember exactly what that diet consisted of.

 
Old 06-18-2010, 07:35 AM   #3
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Re: Swollen belly :(

Thanks for letting me know about this! You always have helpful advice. I will try to look up some info. about this eating plan. I do think that mild IBS or something similar is a possibility since I tend to be so sensitive to foods. I also have dairy sensitivities. I try to eat a small amount of dairy at a time, which I can tolerate, so it doesn't get worse with time if I completely cut it out of my diet. I do drink lactose free skim milk. Soy seems to bother me too!

I just don't know if I'm better off eating a lot of the recommended nutrients (like a good amount of fiber, for example) and feeling bad, or NOT eating them, but missing out on them. With the fruit I eat, I know I get some good fiber from them, but not nearly as high an amount as some people.

I've noticed that lately I tend to crave carbs a lot and I think this is also contributing to how I feel. I usually get most of my carbs from fruits, and some low glycemic grains in smaller amounts (mostly brown or wild rice, sprouted grain bread, quinoa, sweet potatoes) but now I've been craving whole wheat pasta and cereal. My meat intake has been cut back as well. Unfortunately since all of this, I've gained weight in my midsection. I think I'll really focus on working my way back to how I was eating before. I often would eat meals wuch as a leafy salad with grilled chicken breast, but now I'll want something more carb-heavy, and I'll admit, I have been giving in to it.

I've been very tired and my stress level has been higher, so I keep craving comfort foods. I'll do better with my eating one day, but then I go right back to how I was. I think after eating the same "safe" foods for a while, I get a little bored. I'll try to think of new ideas that I think will work for me and aren't TOO similar to what I usually eat as well!

 
Old 06-19-2010, 12:11 AM   #4
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Re: Swollen belly :(

Do you think some of this may possibly be due to my abdominal muscle workouts? Most of the workout routines I do include some kind of lower ab workout, which is my problem area. My upper abs are fine for the most part. I had hernia surgery this past November and immediately afterwards, my lower abs were very swollen. Ever since, I haven't had them 100% back to how they were before. I managed to get them flatter within a couple of months, but now that I'm doing more advanced workouts again, I notice that my lower abs stick out much further! They are hard though! I worry that even if I lose weight, the muscles themselves will stick out. They did have to cut through the muscles and I still have some scar tissue (they feel like ridges along the incision areas- two incisions for two hernias). For my workouts, I've been paying close attention to doing transverse abdominal exercises, thinking this would help me with this issue.

I'm sure diet plays a big part, but I'm wondering if a lot of the "hardness" is due to the workouts. I even noticed in the past that I would tend to look bigger in the lower stomach if I did more lower ab exercises, so I had to keep them to a minimum and mostly focus on my upper abs. I hate to do this, but at the same time, my pants are starting to get tight and I feel very insecure Wearing a bikini is terrible now! I feel like I look a few months pregnant and I definitely want to fix this.

 
Old 06-19-2010, 12:48 AM   #5
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Re: Swollen belly :(

tUrRrRa,

A couple of thoughts come to mind.

One, you may have altered your intestinal flora because of the changes in diet and activity that occurred when you had your operation. Perhaps there are some probiotics or something similar that don't have lactose, that you can get from your healthfood store or drugstore.

Two, it may be that you are becoming sensitive to gluten, or developing an allergy to wheat. If this is the case, then bloating from difficulties in digestion can be one symptom.

Hey, it's no fun to try to do all the right things to make/keep ourselves healthy, only to find that our bodies are not cooperating with the way things oughta be!

Good luck finding out what's going on.

--Rheanna

 
Old 06-19-2010, 11:50 AM   #6
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Re: Swollen belly :(

Thank you for your reply! I think those are definite possibilities, especially the sensitivity to gluten. I seem to have been that way for a long time!

I am interested to find out if wearing a belly band, like those used for women after c-sections (the area I had cut was in that same location) can help me flatten out my lower stomach. It seems that my abs continue to build out, not lay flat, even with holding my stomach in and breathing properly. I used to inhale and exhale at the incorrect times while doing my ab work, and changing this hasn't really helped! The bands seem very interesting (I like the belly bandit best from looking at them). It's just been 6 months since my surgery, so I don't know if it's too late! I looked for shapewear that can help with this issue, but I can't find anything very supportive of that area. Spanx and other popular brands seem to not provide enough compression to my lower abs. Many belly bands seem to start at larger waist measurements than I am, and I don't consider my waist tiny at all! I hope I would be able to find my proper size, or at least an adjustable band!

 
Old 06-21-2010, 07:33 AM   #7
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Re: Swollen belly :(

Well, it's just been a few days, but I haven't been doing any lower ab exercises and notice a big difference! Perhaps this IS more of an exercise issue rather than a diet issue. Will it be bad if I choose to skip any exercises tha target the lower abs? I hope that they will get enough of a workout on their own with full body workouts without any specific, becasue all of the specifics seem to make me get too much of a hard, lower stomach pooch! I've worked on really improving my breathing techniques, working to inhale and exhale correctly, but it hasn't improved this issue. What a bummer!

 
Old 06-22-2010, 10:30 AM   #8
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Re: Swollen belly :(

Quote:
Originally Posted by tUrRrRa View Post
Perhaps this IS more of an exercise issue rather than a diet issue.
Many years ago, I remember my brother starting a family discussion about this. He said that exercising your stomach muscles will give you a bigger stomach. By exercising I think he meant situps. At the time, I was a little doubtful about it. But I think his main point was that you can't flatten your abdomen by exercising it. You would only make it worse.

His suggestion was to get into the habit of holding your stomach in while standing or walking. It works for me but I don't have a big stomach. If someone has a big stomach, it might take a really big effort to hold it in. So I'm not sure if his advice will work for everyone.

I'm glad this is being talked about. It serves as a reminder to me. I'm just starting a new gym membership and I think I'll skip the stomach crunches.

I think your idea is good that a full body workout will help.

Last edited by JohnR41; 06-22-2010 at 10:32 AM. Reason: fix quote

 
Old 06-25-2010, 03:31 PM   #9
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Re: Swollen belly :(

I seem to do fine with regular crunches, but many of my workout dvd's have moves where you lay on your back and lift up your legs, which works the lower abs. I will plan on skipping these just to see how much of a difference it makes. I think my abs start "building out" rather than laying flat. I have tried so hard to make my breathing techniques and posture better, but it hasn't made a difference in my lower stomach. I also try to hold in my stomach throughout the day. Luckily I do not have a large stomach either, but I think that being petite makes a stomach pooch more noticeable. I am 5'4 and wear a size 2 or 4 clothing, so I know I am not large, but I just feel all puffy. I've been having some green tea and plenty of water, which helps me prevent excess bloat. I did put on weight, even though I am wearing the same clothing, and I wonder if I'm hanging on to extra water weight or something. I haven't been eating more salt or anything, but perhaps I'll pay extra attention to this and see if I have been falling into any "traps."

I do know that the whole wheat pasta and high fiber cereal were KILLING my belly.. I enjoy eating them, but I bloat like crazy and feel like I go up at least a full size in my waist. I am going to have to give these up. It just is not worth it!

PS- I was just reading about many women who struggle with their abs after a C section. I worry that I'll be the same way, except that I didn't even have a baby. I sure do hope that one day my muscles go very close to 100% back to how they were pre-surgery. I feel like people were just making up excuses, but I honestly feel that I am working hard and still not getting good results. I will hopefully eventually get good results with trying out different things! Maybe I just haven't found the right thing to do just yet.

Last edited by tUrRrRa; 06-25-2010 at 03:37 PM.

 
Old 06-28-2010, 08:51 PM   #10
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Re: Swollen belly :(

Hi,

You mentioned that if you did not work out for a bit, you noticed a difference in your waist area, ruling out dietary intolerance. I am gluten and dairy intolerant and I used to work out like crazy, I know that a day of not exercising did make a huge difference to me before I knew about my intolerances, but I realize now that the intolerances cause the massive water retention and bloating. When you are exercising, you are losing much of that water. I am not qualified to give medical advice, but I would want to get tested for food intolerances or even Celiac Disease.

People who have Celiac's or even people who are just gluten intolerant cannot tolerate wheat, barley, rye or any of its derivatives because the body recognizes them as foreign and basically attacks itself, upsetting the immune system . People with these conditions damage the villi of their intestines when they ingest gluten and continuing to do so may result in serious consequences such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility, autoimmune disorders and certain types of cancer. It is advised to permanantly cut out absolutely all gluten, but can be very difficult and frustrating at first because so much of our prepackaged or even healthy whole grain food contains gluten or has the risk of being cross-contaminated with it. It is in so many non-obvious things that you would not even expect, like soups, soy sauce, immitation meats and many vegan foods.

Sorry for the rant, hope I did not worry you too much. I cannot say whether you have it for sure, just that you may want to look into it if indeed you are worried about it. Good luck in finding your answer.

 
Old 06-30-2010, 03:39 PM   #11
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Re: Swollen belly :(

Thank you very much for your reply. I'd be very interested to find someone who specializes in this where I live so I can look into testing. The GOOD thing is that it does not seem like what I have would be too severe, so it wouldn't be the end of the world if that were the case. It seems to mostly just affect my self esteem and confidence, since I feel like I'm getting a belly! I get uncomfortable, but more with how I feel in my head, and minimal actual discomfort. If I do drink regular milk, I feel as if I have a stomach full of stabbing needles, so I avoid milk and certain dairy products that do this to me. It's been pretty easy for me to avoid it, and luckily I can tolerate moderate amounts of cheese! Perhaps I can try something similar with gluten and see if I can tolerate small amounts at a time. I'd imagine it WOULD be difficult to make such a big change and cut out gluten, especially when going out to eat. Honestly, I don't even know which all foods have gluten in them other than grains. I think I do tend to get bloated easily after meals.. one of the few things that does NOT do this to me would be a salad with grilled chicken, which is my "safe meal." Whole wheat pasta and high fiber cereal seem to be the worst for my stomach.

I still do feel that something has changed since my surgery... some of the bloating IS more in the lower belly and it used to be all in the middle of the belly. I also notice that when I need to urinate, my lower abdomen gets much more swollen, even if I do not wait long. I asked my doctor about all of the healing after the surgery and they reassured me that it's normal to take a couple of years or more for swelling and symptoms to go away, if ever. I really hope it won't be like this forever!

I am thinking it could definitely be a mixture of the food sensitivities and from the surgical procedure. I think maybe getting the surgery made everything else more noticeable!

 
Old 07-02-2010, 07:59 AM   #12
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Re: Swollen belly :(

I just read a health column by a doctor who said that pineapple can help with bloating. She said it doesn't take much; just eat a small portion before a meal. To try it out, I would buy a can of pineapple chuncks and just eat one or two chuncks before the meal. It almost sounds too good to be true but she mentioned some chemical in the pineapple that makes it work.

Why don't you give it a try and let us know if it has any effect?

Last edited by JohnR41; 07-02-2010 at 08:02 AM. Reason: spelling

 
Old 07-06-2010, 08:42 AM   #13
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Re: Swollen belly :(

Sure, why not give that a try? That sounds easy enough, and if it doesn't work, at least I'll still get to enjoy some pineapple. So you think that 1-2 chunks will be enough to eat before meals? I tend to get my tongue irritated very easily if I eat too much pineapple, but I think I can manage 1-2 pieces. Same thing happens with tomatoes and other acidic fruits.. I really enjoy grape tomatoes, but I have to be careful with eating too many or I'll get a little (yet painful) spot on my tongue from it!

 
Old 07-22-2010, 11:09 PM   #14
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Re: Swollen belly :(

Update:

Unfortunately the pineapple didn't work for me! I'm back to square one. I've realized that I'm just as swollen looking in the morning on an empty stomach, making me wonder of it's not a particular food bothering me. Although I am at a healthy weigh and have a healthy waist to hip ratio, I am wondering if I've developed visceral fat. I feel like I can't suck it in. The only way to get it flat would be to wear a low waist cincher or these yoga pants I have woth a wide foldover waist that fits snugly. I typically have a 26 inch waist and wear a size 2 to 4. I've probably gotten an inch or two larger the lower belly section and thus, almost need to go up a size!

I've been avoiding exercises that target the lower absolutely or I look even puffier. I was taking a break from running and have been using the elliptical machine and doing light weight lifting. I've decided to run again bc things are obviously going downhill fast. I am now running 15 - 20 miles a week. I am exhausted after a workout and sweat more than many other people in the gym... I'm working hard!

As for diet, I added back in some healthy grains, but might cut back again. I do very well eating lean protein and produce. This week I'm on training for work staying on a campus out of state. I have to eat at the school due to not having a rental car. Luckily they have great salad bars and really good fresh fruit, but I'll admit that I had a slice of pizza today I do much better at home with avoiding temptation.

Can this be visceral fat? My lower belly feels hard. I typically get some surface fat that feels soft at times, but this is different. Can changing my workout to lower impact done this? I did the same length in miles if not more, fast pace low impact to try to make it similar. Anything else that may help? I just changed the antidepressant I was on to Wellbutrin to avoid possible weight gain and energy loss.

 
Old 07-25-2010, 08:43 PM   #15
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Re: Swollen belly :(

I'd had very similar issues only to discover I was allergic to gluten, had to do it through endolab testing as blood tests aren't always accurate. I would def look into this allergy. Also, eating high fiber things don't do much good for you unless accompanied by lots of water. Research castor oil packs to online, ton of info on it. Something that you might find comforting if you have bouts of pain or constipation. B/ I'd totally look into the gluten thing!
Good Luck!

 
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