Bloating is not only uncomfortable, but also makes squeezing into tight pants or a form fitting dress downright miserable! This can become more apparent than ever as we move from light and loose summer clothing into more constricting fall fashions. The good news is that by following a few simple tips, many causes of the bloated belly can be avoided.

Some common causes of bloating include:

Overeating and eating too fast: Since it takes up to 20 minutes for your belly to tell your brain you’ve had enough to eat, eating too quickly can make it easy to overindulge.  It’s best to pace yourself and enjoy your meal. Listen when your brain says:  “Enough!” A small, high protein or high fiber snack before a meal (say, a piece of cheese or a piece of whole grain bread with olive oil) can help with this.

Eating rich, fatty food: Fatty food can leave you feeling fuller longer, as it takes longer to digest than proteins or carbohydrates. Yet another reason to avoid high-fat foods.

Food sensitivities: Food sensitivities can lead to bloating. It may take a little “detective work” to figure out if you are sensitive to any types of food, but the results may well be worth it. One at a time, remove foods from your diet that are known to cause bloating. Dairy products are a common culprit and fructose (a type of sugar) can ferment in the gastrointestinal tract, causing gas and bloating. Caffeine can irritate the digestive system and may also cause bloating. Artificial sweeteners like sorbitol can’t be digested and can also result in bloating.

Ways to reduce bloating include:

Drink plenty of water. This may seem counterintuitive, but water helps in two ways.  First, plenty of water can facilitate digestion. Second, when your body senses that it is dehydrated, it will actually retain water.

Try fennel, peppermint tea and green tea. These natural diuretics may help to decrease bloating.

Take a high-quality probiotic or eat naturally-fermented foods. These contain healthy bacteria for your gut that may help to reduce bloating.

With fall upon us, those skinny jeans are crying out to be buttoned! These bloating-busters just might make the seasonal change a little easier this year.