Sandra Enyida writes on Bloating (Health)

You wake up in the morning and crawling out of dreamland seems like an uphill task. You want to move your legs over to the side of the bed, but alas! they are as heavy as yam tubers. You feel groggy and pregnant. As you pad around your apartment, still trying to open your second eye, you realize your feet are soft and swollen. What the …?

This could have been you some weeks or days ago. Don’t worry, you haven’t turned into an alien overnight. It has a name. There are two reasons why you may feel ‘pregnant’ and ‘full’ overnight, BLOATING and/or WATER RETENTION.

Bloating is generally distension of your belly by gas, which is uncomfortable. What possibly triggers it?

  • A bout of gluttony (you couldn’t say NO huh?)
  • Eating so fast, you swallow air along with your food (slow down, bro!)
  • Guzzling carbonated drinks (you thought all that fizz will stay in the can huh?)
  • Excessive chewing of gum.
  • A habit of swallowing air when nervous.
  • Eating bloat-inducing foods.

Overeating is probably the most common cause of bloating. Smaller portions should ease the discomfort. Eating more slowly will help ease bloating caused by eating too fast. Cutting out carbonated drinks from your diet and replacing it with healthier alternatives will reduce your bloating, as well as reduce other health risks associated with carbonated drink consumption. Sorbitol, an artificial sweetener commonly found in ‘sugar-less’ gum, can’t be digested and causes gas. Other bloat-inducing foods like beans, cabbage, milk sugar, can be followed up with lots of drinking water to reduce your chances of getting bloated.

Water retention (the other reason why you’re feeling like you’re walking on five socks for feet) occurs when there’s a buildup of fluid under your skin, causing swelling of your hands, feet, ankles and even face. There are several reasons why this happens, but many are not serious. Some common causes are:

  • Sitting for long hours, for example, on a long flight.
  • Eating too much salt (leave the salt shaker at the dinner table, bro!). Also, eating too much processed and canned foods can invariably increase your salt levels. For example, from crackers, chips, canned vegetables and soups, and sausages.
  • You are a few days before your period (pre-menstrual symptoms). Hormonal changes are to blame here (Ladies, sorry).

What can be done?

  • Don’t be sedentary; move around so the fluid can be absorbed into your blood.
  • Reduce your intake of salt and processed foods.
  • Increase your magnesium and vitamin B6 intake by eating bananas, vegetables and nuts.
  • Increase your potassium intake by eating bananas, avocados, and tomatoes.
  • Drink more water (what?). Sounds counterproductive, but it causes the body to stop holding onto water, thinking it’s scarce.
  • Herbs like dandelion, horsetail, parsley, garlic, and fennel have diuretic effects, making you pee often.


Sandra Enyida lives in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.