THERE are few things more mortifying than being offered a seat on a bus because of your protruding stomach…when you’re not pregnant.

Yet for four out of these five women, this is a regular occurrence.

14 Only one of these four women is pregnant, the others all suffer with debilitating conditions that cause their stomachs to bloatCredit: The Sun

Their tell-tale bumps have nothing to do with having a little one on the way, but are caused by a severe reaction to certain foods, a painful medical condition and some very-hard-to-shift baby weight.

But can you tell which woman is battling the bloat – and which is growing a baby?

Jen Ryan, 31, is a psychology masters student and former secondary school teacher from Faversham in Kent.

She is married to Gary and they have three children

14 Jen Ryan swells up from a size 12 to a size 14 most days – but is unsure what causes her bloatCredit: The Sun

“I had an emergency caesarean with my twins six years ago and have had problems with bloating ever since. I wake up in the morning with my stomach fairly flat then it tends to swell up after eating breakfast and grows bigger and more uncomfortable throughout the day.

“Most days, I start as a slim size 12 and end up a size 14 with trousers straining around my waist. Strangers assume my swollen belly means I’m pregnant and I’ve often been offered a seat on the train, which can be very upsetting.

“Friends too have asked if I’m expecting my fourth and think I’m keeping it a secret and don’t believe it when I tell them it’s just my stomach, not a baby!

14 Jen says her swollen tum affects her confidence and she tries to hide it with high-waisted leggings and floaty topsCredit: The Sun

“Feeling bloated so often really affects my confidence. I used to be a size eight but now I’m eating more because I think: ‘what’s the point? I’m going to have a fat stomach whatever.’

“It affects what I wear and I’ll often be forced to wear high-waisted jeggings with loose, floaty tops when I’d love to wear something a bit more body-skimming. When I was a teacher, skater-style dresses were my uniform as they hid the ups and downs of my tummy well.

“My husband Gary doesn’t comment about my stomach but it does affect our relationship; I’ve cancelled so many nights out because nothing looks good on me and my tummy feels so sore and stretched.

14 Jen tries to manage her symptoms by cutting sugary or carb-heavy food out of her dietCredit: The Sun

“It’s hard to pinpoint what triggers it but it definitely blows up if I eat sugary or carb-heavy foods such as bread and potatoes and drinking alcohol too has a similar effect, so I do try and be careful with what I eat and a low-carb diet definitely helps.

“When I went to the GP, it was initially diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) but after a number of tests, they now suspect endemetriosis, where tissue from the lining of the womb is found in other parts of the body and can cause inflammation and pain.

“I’m planning to have a hysterectomy this September. There’s quite a waiting list on the NHS so I’m saving up to pay for one privately as I’m so fed up of all this. I know it’s a massive operation but I’ve had my family now and I want to look good and feel good – and my bloated tummy is making me miserable.”

Stephanie Ahemor, 27, is a temp administrator from London. She is married to Ebenezer and they have two girls, Annabel, 3 and Joanna, 2

14 Stephanie Ahemor has struggled to lose her baby weight after giving birth to daughter JoannaCredit: The Sun

“It’s been two years since I had Joanna and I just can’t seem to get rid of my ‘mum tum’ whatever I do. I hardly put on any weight after having Annabel and was back to my normal size 12 after about nine months.

“But I quickly fell pregnant again and after giving birth to Joanna – who was born small at 5lb 150z – I remained a size 14 and couldn’t seem to shift the excess flab from around my stomach. I breastfed both of them too: Annabel until 10 months; Joanna until 14 months, so I’m not sure about breastfeeding helping you to shed your baby weight.

“I’ve never had scales or had to consciously watch my weight and being so busy working and looking after two babies meant there was even less time to start weighing out food or count calories.

14 Stephanie has tried to fight the flab by doing Pilates, going swimming and doing YouTube workoutsCredit: The Sun

“I have tried to eat more meat and less carbohydrates, and every now and again I follow a Pilates video on YouTube or go for a swim, but I’m not consistent and it’s done little to reduce my big stomach.

“I do get some curious looks and my relatives especially are convinced I’m pregnant and are always making comments, asking when I’m going to tell them, and it is awful to hear.

“Before I had children, I used to be so confident in my own body but now I’m either wearing clothes in a bigger size (which fit badly) or strapping on a waist trainer in an effort to keep the bulge in.

14 Stephanie plans to have another child soon and has decided to stop worrying about her stomachCredit: The Sun

“It doesn’t help that my husband Ebenezer takes pride in being so slim. When I had the children, he dared to suggest I wasn’t trying hard enough to lose the baby belly and that ended up in a big argument so he knows now not to say anything.

“I do plan to have another child soon so I’ve made a decision not to worry about my stomach for the time being. When I’m finished I’ll work hard to get my body back. I just hope I can do it.”

Kelly Sephton, 35, is a nutritionist and ambassador for leading sports nutrition brand USN. She is married to Paul and lives in Essex

14 Kelly Sephton says her stomach ‘blows up like a balloon’ at least once a weekCredit: The SUn

“I had trouble with my periods since the age of 11 and would be in pain and feel sick for nearly three weeks out of every month. I suffered terribly with bloating too, especially in the evenings. I was always quite slim so my belly would just stick out and it would be very painful and uncomfortable.

“An early miscarriage in my 20s led to some exploratory work and I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis at 23 and was told that because of the severity of the condition I probably wouldn’t be able to exercise much or be able to cope with working long hours.

14 Kelly is often mistaken for a pregnant woman and offered a seat on public transport because of her swollen tumCredit: The Sun

“This is because of the fatigue, pain and stress the condition put on my system. The doctors even advised a hysterectomy and this scared the life out of me! I was determined not to let this happen and started taking a keen interest in what I ate, noticing that the bloating reduced if I avoided sugar, dairy and wheat.

“It didn’t always work though and even now, I’ll blow up like a balloon at least once a week. As I’m slim everywhere else, people think I’m pregnant and I’m often offered a seat on the train. I’ll always take it and say thank you because I don’t want them to feel embarrassed, but it’s not nice.

14 Kelly is supported by her husband Paul, who is always on hand with a hot water bottle to ease her achesCredit: The Sun

“Stress or eating the wrong thing makes the condition flare up and if I’m going out for the day, I’m always mindful of what I wear, sometimes taking a little jacket or jumper with me as a handy camouflage. It does affect my confidence though.

“Doctors have told me a number of times that I won’t be able to conceive as my body isn’t a stable environment to hold a baby long-term but I’d love a family one day and I’ve heard lots of success stories from women with my condition and I focus on those.

“My husband Paul is very good with me when I’m suffering – he’s always there with the hot water bottle when the tummy pains get bad and he tries to calm me down.”

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Lisa Wood, 39, works in communications and lives in Altrincham, Cheshire. She is married to Westley and they have a daughter, Sienna, 3

14 Lisa Wood is lactose intolerant, which means she is unable to lactose, the sugar mainly found in milk and dairy productsCredit: The Sun

“It started when I was 25 with something as simple as a bowl of cereal in the morning. Within minutes, my stomach would swell up like I was four months pregnant and I’d be doubled over in pain, as if I had trapped wind.

“I went to the doctor who suggested I cut out wheat but this didn’t make much difference so they ran a few tests and discovered I had lactose intolerance, which is a common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose, the sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products.

14 Lisa has cut milk and dairy out of her diet but still gets bloated twice a weekCredit: The Sun

“It’s so funny because as a child, I always drank a lot of milk and would have a glass before bed and my cereal was always swimming in it every morning.

“For the last 12 months, I’ve tried cutting milk and dairy out from my diet completely and it has helped. I still get bloated twice a week – many products and recipes have lactose in and it’s hard to know, especially if I’m in a restaurant or at other people’s houses.

14 Lisa admits she’s often the butt of many quizzical looks and is often asked if she’s expectingCredit: The SUn

“The key is nothing cheesy or creamy, but I do feel anxious if I eat out because the reaction is so immediate. I think I have a bit of IBS too because if I eat a roast dinner with lots of potatoes, for example, my stomach swells up and it will do the same if I’ve had a stressful day.

“I juggle a lot with work and my daughter and I’m always thinking of a million things at once, so stress is a hard one to cut down, although I do practise a lot of yoga.

“My husband Westley is extremely tolerant of my ups and downs. As long as he’s known me, I’ve moaned about my belly and he knows how much it affects me. I’m quite slim so when I’m having an episode my stomach protrudes and I know I look about four months pregnant. Although my friends haven’t asked me outright, I’m often the butt of many quizzical looks.”

And the pregnant woman is . . . Giorgia Packham, 27, from Essex, who is four months pregnant with her first child.

14 Mum-to-be Giorgia Packham is currently expecting her first childCredit: The Sun

“I love seeing a bump because it’s physical proof that the baby inside me is developing nicely and getting bigger and healthier.

“I’ve always been super slim and even had a six-pack before, so it is an unusual transformation but I love it; growing a baby is so exciting!”

Meanwhile, we previously reported on the 10 foods that can cause stomach bloating.

And, bloating could actually be a warning sign of these four serious illnesses.

Bloated to bikini: Watch IBS sufferer’s tough battle

What your pregnant belly will look like

Bump size and shape

Baby bumps come in all different shapes and sizes. Remember, your shape will change as your baby develops, and your bump will, too.

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When will your pregnant bump start to show?

“You probably won’t notice any baby bump until around 12 weeks to 16 weeks,” says birth consultant Janine Rudin, from Birth Basics. “Your uterus will start to rise out of your pelvis, creating the beginnings of your bump. Your tummy muscles affect what your bump looks like – strong abdominal muscles may mean your bump isn’t very noticeable in the early stages.”

If it’s your second baby, you might notice that your bump starts to show sooner. “This is because your skin has already been stretched from previous pregnancies and protrudes quicker,” says Janine.

What shape will your baby bump be?

“Your bump will change shape throughout the day. You may look bigger in the afternoon than you did in the morning, but this is normal!” says Janine.

Your bump shape depends on the position your baby is in, as it can make your bump look lopsided, as mum Laura Ellen Head found out. “My bump with my second child looked wonky and made my bump go to one side. I looked like only half my tummy as pregnant!”

Another factor that affects the shape of your pregnant belly is the height of your baby. “I had a funny shaped bump because my baby was very long. From the side, I looked like I had a square bump,” says mum Rachel Lambell.

The amount of amniotic fluid around your baby also determines the size and shape of your pregnant belly. “If you have lots of fluid around your baby, your bump will be larger and more rounded. If you don’t have much, you might find your bump is smaller,” says maternity and baby consultant Margarita Atieh.

Later in your pregnancy, you might even see your baby’s outline. “When your baby is unable to move much, due to lack of space, your baby bump will appear to mould itself to your tummy. So don’t be surprised if you see a baby body part emerge, compressed to your tummy!” explains Margarita.

Stretchmarks

About 90% of pregnant women are said to get stretchmarks.

Where are stretchmarks most likely to appear?

“Stretchmarks announce themselves on the parts of the body which are most susceptible to rapid growth – so think tummies, thighs, hips and around the breasts,” says maternity and baby consultant Margarita.

What do stretchmarks look like?

Everyone is different, but the most common looking stretchmarks are thin scratch-like marks that are smooth to touch. However, pregnancy stretchmarks do vary from woman to woman.

“I really suffered from stretchmarks during my pregnancies,” says mum Julie Baxter. “It now looks like I’ve got tiger prints on my belly.”

Fellow mum Sarah Clegg also experienced strange stretchmark patterns. “My belly looks like a road map! Luckily since using a stretchmark butter, they look like they’ve reduced and I haven’t had anymore during my last two pregnancies.”

Why do stretchmarks affect pregnant women?

Due to the rapid stretching of the skin, the pulling of the skin overcomes the skin’s elasticity, causing these reddish marks (also known as striae) to appear. Because your tummy will be growing steadily, you might find that your belly is most affected.

How do you deal with stretchmarks?

“Gradual weight gain in pregnancy may help keep the stretchmarks at bay, as quick weight gain will cause the skin to stretch further,” says maternity and baby consultant Margarita. “However, you can’t always control how much weight you gain during your pregnancy, so make sure that your skin is hydrated (to reduce the stretching) and moisterised.”

Check out our round-up of natural stretchmark creams and prevention stretchmark creams.

Will the stretchmarks be permanent?

Unfortunately, stretchmarks are also a form of scarring. However, they won’t always be reddish/purple. “Following the birth, they should start to fade and become paler until they turn into silvery streaks on the skin which are hardly noticeable,” says Margarita.

However, some mums like to think of them as a little reminder of their children. “I call them my battle scars – I’m proud of them as I’ve got a beautiful daughter to show for them,” mum Tricia Clark tells us.

Linea negra

“The linea negra means ‘black line’ and usually starts to develop during the second trimester,” says maternity and baby consultant Margarita.

“The linea negra appears down the middle of your bump,” explains birth consultant Janine. “The line is caused by pigmentation in the skin where the abdominal muscles stretch and slightly separate to accommodate your growing baby.” It’s also down to the increased production of the pigment melanin, cause by increased levels of oestrogen.

How long will the linea negra last?

Depending on your skin tone, the line can appear as a faint line or a dark brown line – but it doesn’t last long once you’ve given birth. “The linea negra will fade away several months post-baby, sometimes weeks,” says Janine. However, sometimes exposure to sunlight early after birth can cause it to appear again.

Sticky out belly button

“From around 25 weeks, some pregnant women will experience a ‘sticky-out’ belly button,” says birth consultant Janine.

“If your tummy has been an ‘inny’ throughout the early stages of your pregnancy, you might find that it ‘pops’ to become an ‘outy’ in later pregnancy,” says maternity and baby consultant Margarita.

Will your belly button ever go back to normal?

“Like most physical side effects to pregnancy, sticking out belly buttons will pop back in again after you’ve given birth,” says Janine. “It’s definitely a short-lived change!”

Itchy bump

“Pregnancy hormones can make your skin look radiant, especially during the first trimester,” says maternity and baby consultant Margarita. “However, the pregnancy hormones can also cause significant changes to your skin – making it more sensitive than usual, causing pregnancy acne and most commonly, itching skin, which 20% of pregnant women suffer from.”

“I got extremely itchy skin when my bump started to get big,” mum Li Nda says. “A wet flannel relieved my itching.”

“My bump was so itchy the doctor had to give me medication for it,” mum Sian Applebee reveals.

“I used to get this burning, ripping feeling right at the top of my bump. It started at 30 weeks and drove me mad!” says mum Rachel Lambell. “My skin felt like it was ripping, the doctor had no explanation for it!” explains mum Sian. So what is this all about? “This is your skin reacting to the changes going on inside your body,” says Janine.

If you have itchiness in pregnancy, do mention it to your doctor or midwife. In some cases, the itching can be a symptom of obstetric cholestasis, a rare pregnancy-related condition that needs treatment.

What will your belly look like post-birth?

“If you still look five months pregnant after you’ve had your baby, that is completely normal,” says birth consultant Janine. “Yes, sometime bellies do ping back into shape but this is rare. Your belly might be more rounded, softer and squashy than before.”

“It can take anything from four to six weeks for your uterus to start shrinking,” says baby and maternity consultant Margarita.

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But if it takes longer, don’t fret as this is normal. “It took nine months for your skin to stretch to accommodate a full-term baby, so it makes sense that it would take that long (or longer) to tighten back up,” explains birth consultant Janine.

My theory: Pregnancy happens inside women’s bodies, so it is very personal, but also mysterious, since (with the exception of a few ultrasounds) it is largely unseen. Fascination with pregnancy and pregnant women’s bodies is not surprising.

But that does not provide people with an open invitation to involve themselves in the process.

Women become pregnant under varied circumstances, not all of them planned or positive, so even the go-to congratulatory comments are not always appropriate. A simple “How are you feeling?” is a neutral option.

Concern and comments regarding a woman’s decisions surrounding motherhood are probably coming from a good place; few people actually endeavor to be patronizing. It is absolutely possible to show concern for a pregnant person while still being respectful and not insulting. By all means, make accommodations for anyone — including pregnant people, the elderly or someone on crutches — who may look as if they could use a break.

But if someone declines the offer to take your seat on the bus, move on and let it go. Follow-up comments are unnecessary. It’s possible that a person who appears to be pregnant may have an unwelcome medical condition that she doesn’t wish to discuss.

There is also a connection between the unsolicited advice given to pregnant (or potentially pregnant) women, and the way society views women who are not the ideal Size 6. Once it is discovered that we are not, in fact, pregnant, it does not necessarily stop people from telling us what to do or how to dress. Perhaps they think that if we don’t have enough self-control to eat properly, it gives them the right (maybe even the obligation) to advise us on how to better ourselves.

Once during a crowded subway ride, an elderly woman looked at me knowingly and said: “Here you go, honey. You sit down right here,” gesturing toward my belly.

“Thank you so much, but I’m actually not pregnant,” I responded, feeling my already sweaty face turning a brighter shade of red.

No matter how skilled you are at healthy eating, sometimes bloating is an unfortunate fact of life. There’s nothing more annoying than suddenly feeling like a puffer fish that’s made its way to land (and can’t fit into its jeans). Oh, actually, there is: When you’ve read up on various causes of bloating, cut back on them, and still suspect someone somehow inflated you like a balloon. Although things like overdoing your salt intake are well-known causes of bloating, there’s another common factor that might be flying under your radar precisely because it seems so healthy: seltzer water.

It comes across as a culinary catch-22—staying hydrated is one of the best ways to debloat, after all. But the carbonation in seltzer, aka soda water or club soda, is the real culprit here. “Those carbonated bubbles in seltzer are air pockets,” Brigitte Zeitlin, M.P.H., R.D., C.D.N., founder of the New York-based BZ Nutrition, tells SELF. “You drink those, and the air builds up in your stomach, which can cause abdominal distention.” In addition to causing bloating, drinking a lot of seltzer may result in a few other uncomfortable issues, too. “If you’re introducing extra air into your system, it has to leave at some point,” Abby Langer, R.D. and owner of Abby Langer Nutrition in Toronto, tells SELF. As in, drinking too much seltzer can make you burp, fart, and generally feel gassier than a Shell station.

All of this doesn’t mean that you need to avoid seltzer like the plague. It’s water, and staying hydrated is always good for you. Zeitlin adds that hydration is extra important to bust the bloating and discomfort that can happen when you consume a lot of fiber-rich foods, which are key for healthy eating and weight loss, if that’s your thing. But there are a few steps you can take to cut down on any seltzer-induced bloating:

For starters, reach for plain seltzer instead of sweetened versions.

Sweetened seltzer often gets its taste from sugar alcohols, which your gastrointestinal tract might have a tough time breaking down. Voilà, “a double dose of bloating,” Langer explains. She recommends checking out the ingredients list on seltzer to see whether it has xylitol, sorbitol, or other items ending in -ol, which is a dead giveaway that they fall under the sugar-alcohol umbrella. You can also keep an eye out for other well-known artificial sweeteners like aspartame. If your palate needs more excitement than just plain bubbles, try adding some lemon, lime, or muddled fruit. And a word on “natural flavoring”: It’s better than artificial sweeteners, Langer says, but the FDA hasn’t fully defined what the term “natural” means. Fair warning.

Also keep in mind that, like anything else, it’s about finding what works for your body.

If you love seltzer but suspect it’s the cause of your bloating, Zeitlin recommends making sure less than half of your daily liquid intake comes from the bubbly beverage. From there, you can tweak the amount you drink from day to day to find a balance that pleases your taste buds without bloating you too much. “Some people are really sensitive to and will have bloating from even one glass,” Langer says. But other people can handle more of it. “Don’t underestimate the influence of listening to your body,” Zeitlin says. In addition, you can avoid drinking through a straw and talking a lot while you drink—both habits can make you take in more air, thus increasing bloating, Langer says.

It’s also perfectly OK if you experience bloating from seltzer but would rather reap the benefits of proper hydration than potentially skimp on getting enough fluid each day.

“I have a lot of clients who hate water, and they will drink seltzer. For them it’s a trade off,” Langer says. If you’re in that camp, cheers to you.

You may also like: How to Make A Healthy Kale Mason Jar Salad

Despite diet and exercise, getting rid of bloating and body fat around the waistline can be difficult. Erin Palinski-Wade, co-author along with Tara Gidus and Kristina LaRue of “Flat Belly Cookbook For Dummies,” says, “There is a balance between enjoying … and overindulging, and it begins with a working knowledge of foods and drinks that are, and aren’t, waistline-friendly.”

In the book, they reveal the top “Belly bloaters,” including:

Belly Bloater No. 1: Sugar alcohols

These sugar substitutes are only partially digested, and so provide fewer calories per gram than regular sugar. But they can also cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal side effects such as bloating, gas and diarrhea, all of which can cause your belly to look and feel distended. Sugar alcohol is often found in sugar-free snacks, gums, and candies. Look for ingredients such as xylitol, sorbitol and maltitol, and you’ve found sugar alcohol.

Belly Bloater No. 2: High-sodium foods

“Excess sodium intake can do more damage than just making you look bloated,” notes LaRue. “In addition to the negative impact sodium has on your waistline, it can also increase blood pressure and stiffen arteries. Aim to keep daily sodium intake under 2,000 mg (or under 1,500 mg per day if you have high blood pressure).

Belly Bloater No. 3: Refined carbohydrates

These grains have been stripped of the outermost and innermost layers of grain, leaving all the carbohydrates and calories but little protein, fiber and nutrients. Processing allows grains to be digested rapidly, but provide little in the way of fullness after eating. Rapid digestion leads to spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.

“Enjoy grains, but choose whole grains instead,” recommends Palinski-Wade. “Reach for brown rice over white rice, whole wheat pasta over white and popcorn over snack chips.”

Belly Bloater No. 4: Processed meats

Meats such as bacon, sausage and hot dogs are high in sodium and saturated fats. “Limit processed meats to special occasions and occasional treats to prevent a negative impact on your health and your belly,” Gidus suggests. “Look for lower-fat options made with turkey or chicken breast over beef and pork varieties. But keep in mind that these lower-fat options typically contain just as much sodium as the original options, so don’t overdo it.”

Belly Bloater No. 5: Carbonated beverages and soda

Carbonation is mostly water, and it’s typically calorie free, but it can really bloat your belly.

“Because the carbonation comes from gas blended with water, when you drink a carbonated beverage, the gas can ‘puff out’ your stomach,” Gidus says.

Even more potent than carbonation is sugar, a rich source of empty calories that does not provide fullness. Soda sparks a spike in blood sugar, followed by an insulin spike and excessive belly fat storage.

“Diet soda isn’t the solution,” warns LaRue. “ … Some studies have linked diet soda with an increase in hunger and cravings.”

Belly Bloater No. 6: Alcohol

Alcohol is a source of empty calories that can actually increase your appetite, leading to weight gain and increased belly fat. In addition to limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, Palinski-Wade suggests simple guidelines:

• Your best choice for alcohol is red or white wine, a wine spritzer or light beer.

• If having a mixed drink, avoid high-calorie mixers such as soda. Instead, mix with club soda or seltzer with a splash of juice for flavor.

• Drink alcohol at the end of the meal instead of before. Alcohol can stimulate appetite.

Marjie Gilliam is a personal trainer and fitness consultant. Email: [email protected]

Between the zero-calorie label and the delicious flavor, sparkling water is a relatively healthy option for an afternoon refresher. But could drinking too much sparkling water give you gas?

While some people on the internet swear up and down that drinking too much carbonated water makes them bloated and gassy, the truth is a bit more complicated than that. For the most part, it’s a myth that carbonated water gives you gas, but if you’re downing a can of sparkling water beverage every hour or so, or if you’re prone to any digestive issues, you might want to curb your LaCroix habit just a tad. Here’s why.

How Much Caffeine Should I Take?

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Drinking carbonated beverages like LaCroix can lead to you swallowing air. That air usually comes out as a fart or belch, says Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, and author of The MIND Diet.

“Carbonated drinks release carbon dioxide gas, adding to the air in your esophagus that finds its way back out through belching. Most excess air that causes belching is trapped in the esophagus before it ever reaches your stomach—until it gets released through belching,” she says.

“If the gas builds up before it gets to your stomach, the side effect is most likely belching. Extra swallowed air is almost never the cause of flatulence.”

Of course, as you learned in elementary school, if that air doesn’t come out on one end, it’ll invariably come out the other. If you do find that you’re farting excessively, the carbonation can play a role. But it’s likely more a “result of bacteria interacting with stomach acid, fatty acids, or unabsorbed carbohydrates (e.g. fiber, sugar alcohols),” says Moon, and not so much the fizzy drink itself.

Related: Fart Less By Avoiding These Foods

In fact, if you love fizzy drinks and you find that you’re prone to gas, LaCroix is actually one of the better options out there. Most soda contains artificial sweeteners, which has been linked to causing more gas, says Moon. Because brands like LaCroix don’t contain artificial sweeteners, it’s actually less likely to cause gas than other types of carbonated beverages.

That said, sparkling water isn’t 100% great for you. Beyond causing gas and minor bloating, drinking too much sparkling water has been linked to teeth erosion due to its acidity. Luckily, however, there are a few ways to minimize the burps and still enjoy each sip.

”Try drinking smaller portions, or try taking slower, smaller sips to cut back on swallowing too much air,” says Moon. She also suggests that you “keep your mouth closed between sips and skip the straw, as both can also introduce extra air,” leading to greater gas build-up. Overall, as long as you’re not drinking too much sparkling water or dealing with a gastrointestinal disorder, your LaCroix habit is probably fine. Just keep these tips in mind to save yourself from some giggles at work.

Isadora Baum Isadora Baum is a freelance writer, certified health coach, and author of 5-Minute Energy.

PeopleImages / Getty Images

Bloating is no one’s friend. That perfectly full feeling when you’re completely satiated is one thing. Feeling uncomfortably full or blown-up—sometimes to the point that it’s hard to button your favorite jeans—is an entirely different matter. What’s worse is when you haven’t had something you know causes you to feel bloated, like, say, maybe a bag of salty chips, but still find yourself feeling inflated for seemingly no reason. The truth is that even though some foods seem healthy, or even actually are, they have properties that can make you feel like a balloon. Here, registered dietitians share foods (and one drink) that can make you feel swollen, plus a few tips on how to debloat them.

1. Whole grains Dave King Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

These complex carbohydrates usually serve up plenty of fiber, which is great. It’s a key nutrient for your digestive system, and it can help you feel fuller longer. But if you start upping your fiber content without drinking enough water—or even if you do drink enough water, but start eating a ton of fiber out of nowhere—it can be hard for your body to digest. Bam, bloating. “There could be some discomfort because your body isn’t used to it, so make sure to increase your fiber intake slowly and drink enough water,” Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Nutrition Starring You, tells SELF.

2. Beans and lentils

It’s natural to feel puffy after chowing down on these members of the legume family. “Beans and lentils have indigestible sugars called oligosaccharides,” says Harris-Pincus. “Your intestinal bacteria work to break them down, which can cause gas and bloating,” she explains. If you’re dealing with fresh or dried beans, Harris-Pincus suggests soaking them overnight. Some believe that the water may actually retain some of those sugars that the beans normally would, making it easier for your stomach to process the food.

Keep in mind that beans and lentils are awesome sources of fiber, which is essential to your diet. Even if you try the above methods, it may make sense to cut back if they still cause a ton of bloating. Ultimately, it’s about finding a balance that’s right for you.

3. Dairy

If you have a lactose intolerance, your body is deficient in the lactase enzyme, which helps you handle the sugar in milk. That can definitely lead to gassiness and bloating after eating dairy. But even if you don’t have full-blown lactose intolerance, you could have a hard time dealing with casein and whey, two dairy proteins, says Harris-Pincus. Sometimes it’s a matter of experimenting to figure out what your body can deal with. “Cheese usually has very little lactose, so someone who might not be able to drink milk may be able to eat ,” says Harris-Pincus. Same goes for yogurt.

4. Cruciferous vegetables John Freeman / Getty Images

A few weeks ago, a friend shared some embarrassing stories about her troubles with gas and bloating. In line with Murphy’s Law, the embarrassment usually came on at the most inconvenient time — at her 2 p.m. staff meeting.

My first thought was that she was might be eating an unhealthy lunch, but she assured me she always eats salad and washes it down with plenty of water. For a moment, I was left scratching my head. Then, the light bulb went off, and I asked how much water she was drinking; and the problem was revealed. She was drinking two 16-ounce bottles of water, which is way too much.

I know what you’re thinking: We’re always told we need to drink more water; now you’re telling me to cut back? Well, not exactly. You should meet your daily water requirements, but try to drink sparingly at meal times.

The body relies on stomach acids to digest your food. When you drink too much, you dilute those acids, making them less potent, which means food is less efficiently broken down. Gas and bloating inevitably result.

Here are a few more tips to avoid gas and bloating:

  • Slow down. You might be hungry, but shoveling food in your mouth will cause you to gulp down more air, which can lead to gas and bloating.
  • Opt for water instead of soda, or any other carbonated beverage. The carbonation just adds unnecessary air into your digestive tract.
  • Drink a bottle of water about an hour before each meal to hold off thirst while you’re eating.
  • At and around mealtimes, drink just enough to help your food go down. Drink in small sips, not large gulps, which can dilute your stomach acids, along with adding more air into your digestive system.
  • Consider taking probiotic supplements, or eating more probiotic-containing yogurt. Probiotics help restore the balance between good and bad bacteria in your gut, which can get your digestive system back on track.

Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!

Staying hydrated is a double-edged sword. Doctors harp on the fact that you need to pound liquids to shed pounds, but some can leave you feeling less than svelte. Even certain types of water — the golden standard of hydration — are bad for the belly. So we’re bringing an end to the confusion. Here are the drinks you should never sip if you don’t want to bloat.

Dairy

If you’re bloating after a milkshake, it might be something more than the fact that you’re drinking your dessert. As you age, your body produces less lactase, an enzyme that helps you digest lactose, which is found in dairy products like milk, ice cream, and cheese. Some people with lactose intolerance can handle small servings, but you might find yourself fitting into your pants more comfortably if you lay off the stuff altogether.

Facebook / Steak ‘n Shake

Milk Alternatives

The fake stuff can cause just as many problems as cow’s milk. Almond and coconut milks often contain an additive called carrageenan, which is a thickening agent derived from seaweed. It can trigger irritation and inflammation in the digestive system.

Soup

Beware of canned versions, which often pack tons of sodium — sometimes up to 1,100 milligrams, which is almost as much as the American Heart Association’s recommended daily limit. The salt in your bloodstream attracts water that your body holds on to causing you to bloat.

Judy Kim

Alcohol

The worst part of a hangover may be the pounding headache, but waking up with a full gut isn’t so fun, either. There are a ton of reasons a night of drinking can cause bloating. For starters, alcohol is a diuretic. That can lead you to become dehydrated, meaning your body will retain more water. Furthermore, a lot of cocktails, beer, and wine are high in carbonation and sugar, both of which can lead to gas.

Seltzer

We’ve reached the peak of seltzer hype: You can get it spiked or unicorn-flavored or in a can with a name no on really knows how to pronounce. But with all the fizzy water innovations, we still don’t have an anti-bloat version. The bubbles can cause air to build up in your stomach, which leads it to balloon.

Diet Soda

You already know that carbonation can cause bloating, but so can the artificial sweeteners found in most diet sodas. Sucralose is the most common culprit. It’s been known to lead to gas and bloating, but it can also reduce the amount of healthy bacteria in your gut which creates extra gas as you digest.

Scott Olson

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Sarah Weinberg Deputy Editor Sarah Weinberg is the deputy editor at Delish and has covered food, travel, home, and lifestyle for a number of publications, including Food Network Magazine and Country Living.

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