Brittany Hambleton
Brittany Hambleton
June 22, 2024 ·  8 min read

10 Foods That Could Cause Bloating and What to Eat Instead

Ever wake up with a flat stomach in the morning, only to bloat out like a hot air balloon right after you eat breakfast—without understanding why? If you’re suffering through each day feeling sluggish, tired, cramped and heavy, you may be interested to know that certain foods can cause bloating.

Bloating results from gas or fluid accumulating in your GI tract or when bacteria in your large intestine have difficulty breaking down certain foods. Common foods that produce digestive symptoms are high FODMAP foods.


FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols (2). In simple terms, FODMAPS are a group of indigestible short-chain carbohydrates or sugar molecules. Since your body cannot digest these sugar molecules completely, they travel through your GI tract and reach your colon undigested, where the bacteria that live in your colon begin to ferment them. The fermentation can produce gas and bloating.

Now, it’s true that low FODMAP diets are typically recommended for those with serious digestive conditions, such as colitis or SIBO. However, avoiding high FODMAP foods has been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms in anyone who suffers from gas and bloating (4)(5).

In addition to high FODMAP foods, several other foods (and beverages) can contribute to a swollen tummy. So, if you’re finally ready to say goodbye to the ‘food baby,’ here’s a list of foods that cause bloating and gas (and what to eat instead).

How to Stop Stomach Pain and Bloating: The Foods You Need to Stop Eating!

1. Raw Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous veggies, such as kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage, cause bloating and gas when eaten in their raw form. This is because they’re extremely high in fiber, making it difficult for your body to break down.

Furthermore, cruciferous veggies contain raffinose, which is a sugar molecule that falls under the FODMAP umbrella (6).

So, if you’ve ever been gassy after eating a plate of broccoli, you can rest assured it’s not your fault—it’s the raffinose (try explaining that at your next Paleo potluck!).

What to Eat Instead:

Now, cruciferous vegetables provide several essential vitamins and minerals, but also powerful phytochemicals like glucobrassicin (7). So you probably don’t want to leave them out of your diet. Instead, try steaming cruciferous vegetables to help soften their tough fiber and make them easier to digest. You can also increase their digestibility by blending them into a soup with a cup or two of veggie broth after steaming.

If you’re on a raw kale kick and find you’re bloated, try replacing kale with a less fibrous green, such as romaine lettuce or watercress.

When it comes to cabbage, try swapping raw cabbage for fermented cabbage, or sauerkraut. Sauerkraut tends to be easier on digestion because it’s “pre-digested” by bacteria during the fermentation process.

2. Fizzy Drinks

If you’ve ever been bloated and belchy after sipping on a seltzer, you’re not alone. The carbonation in fizzy drinks such as soda, water kefir, and kombucha create air in the intestinal tract, which will cause bloating.

What to Drink for Gas Pain:

Rather than opting for bubbles, try replacing fizzy drinks with a refreshing green juice or mineral water with a splash of lime cordial.

If you’re an avid kombucha drinker, you may be interested in trying switchel instead. Like kombucha, switchel is a fermented drink that contains probiotics, but it’s less likely to cause bloating because it’s not carbonated.

Switchel, also known as “haymakers punch,” was traditionally consumed by farmers to promote hydration and replenish electrolytes. But with unpasteurized apple cider vinegar as the main ingredient, switchel also contains friendly bacteria, making it an ideal, non-carbonated alternative to kombucha.

A basic Switchel recipe combines still water, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, ginger, and a natural sweetener, such as coconut nectar, raw honey, or pure maple syrup. You can experiment with different flavor combinations by adding herbs, fruit, and spices (such as citrus and mint).

3. Onions

Onions are a high FODMAP food because they contain fructans, which are a fructo-oligosaccharide (9). Even when eaten in small amounts, onions have also been linked to other digestive symptoms, such as acid reflux and indigestion.

Cooking onions may help reduce digestive symptoms for some people.

What to Eat Instead:

As one of the best flavor enhancers for Paleo recipes, you may not want to leave the flavor of onions out of your diet entirely. You can try cooking with onion-infused oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, which is less likely to produce digestive symptoms.

Replacing onions with scallions and shallots isn’t recommended, as they’re closely related to the onion family and also contain FODMAPs.

4. Apples

As one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, how could apples cause bloating?

While it’s true that apples are full of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, they’re also higher in fructose than most fruits. Fructose is a monosaccharide, which makes it a high-FODMAP food. The high fiber content in apples may also be difficult for some people to digest.

What to Eat Instead:

If you’re prone to bloating, you may want to try replacing apples with lower FODMAP fruits such as berries, cantaloupe, grapes or bananas (10). Cooking apples and making applesauce can also help increase their digestibility.

5. Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols such as xylitol, mannitol and sorbitol are commonly used as low-calorie sweeteners in processed foods such as granola bars and cereal. Since sugar alcohols are made up of polyols, which are a FODMAP, they’ve been linked to promoting digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas and diarrhea (11).

What to Eat Instead:

Although xylitol is often recommended as a healthy alternative to refined sugar, green leaf stevia or 100% pure maple syrup are better choices because they’re lower in FODMAPs.

In addition to sugar alcohols, other fructose-rich sweeteners to avoid include high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar, beet sugar, evaporated cane juice and cane syrup.

Lastly, although it’s a healthier Paleo-friendly alternative to processed sweeteners, honey also contains fructose, which classifies it as a FODMAP food that can cause bloating.

6. Garlic

As a close cousin of the onion, garlic is another high FODMAP food that can cause bloating and gas. Garlic is said to be most aggravating in its raw form, but may still produce digestive symptoms when cooked.

What to Eat Instead:

If sauteed garlic is a no-go with your GI tract, try replacing garlic with chives, which are a low FODMAP alternative. Although no food can imitate the exact pungent flavor of garlic, chives come in as a close second when it comes to enhancing the flavor of your recipes.

7. Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes, such as fava beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, and soybeans, aren’t permitted on a Paleo diet because they contain a protective coating called phytic acid.

Phytic acid is considered an “antinutrient” because it binds to the nutrients in the food it’s found in, which prevents us from digesting and absorbing essential vitamins and minerals (12).

Beans and legumes are also a high FODMAP food because they contain a sugar molecule called alpha-galactosides. In fact, the FODMAPs in beans is why they’ve earned the reputation as being a musical fruit.

What to Eat Instead:

Since beans and legumes are considered a primary source of protein in many diets, replacing them with a low FODMAP protein source such as organic grass-fed meat or eggs can help prevent bloating.

Since grass-fed meat and eggs don’t contain phytic acid, they’ll also provide you with a higher concentration of bioavailable vitamins and minerals.

8. Grains

As another food that contains phytic acid, grains such as oats, rice, and wheat aren’t permitted on a Paleo diet. Grains also happen to be a high fiber, high FODMAP food, which can cause or worsen existing digestive symptoms.

What to Eat Instead:

If pasta is one of your favorite ways to eat grains, try making Paleo-friendly pasta “noodles” from spiralized zucchini, which is a low FODMAP food.

Quinoa can also be a substitute for grains because it’s closely related to the spinach family, and is actually more of a seed. With a fluffy texture and nutty flavor, quinoa can replace brown rice or oats in recipes. However, quinoa still contains phytates, so it’s best to soak quinoa overnight prior to cooking, which can help reduce the phytic acid.

9. Mushrooms

While mushrooms can make any savory Paleo recipe taste amazing, they can also be a major cause of the bloat. As you may have already guessed, mushrooms contain polyols which make them a high FODMAP food.

What to Eat Instead:

Finding an ideal substitute for mushrooms will depend on whether you add mushrooms to your recipes for flavor or texture. Sauteed zucchini can provide a similar texture to mushrooms, while bone broth or seaweed, such as Kombu, can add a savory, salty flavor to your recipes.

10. Dairy Products

Dairy is another food you won’t find on the Paleo diet, partially because it’s difficult to digest.

Dairy is linked to bloating and gas because it’s high in lactose, which is a milk sugar. To digest lactose, our bodies require the digestive enzyme lactase. Unfortunately, many of us stop producing a sufficient amount of lactase beyond the ages of breastfeeding, which makes it hard for us to digest the milk sugar in dairy (14).

Casein, the protein found in dairy, has also been shown to promote inflammation in the gut lining in those who are sensitive to dairy, which can further produce digestive symptoms such as bloating (15).

What to Eat Instead:

Coconut milk and nut milk, such as almond milk, cashew milk, and hemp milk, are excellent alternatives to dairy, and they are also higher in essential vitamins and minerals.

Bottom Line

As you can see, the most common foods that cause bloating are high FODMAP foods or foods that contain phytic acid. In addition to being linked to certain foods, bloating can also result from lifestyle factors such as eating too fast, eating while distracted, or not chewing your food properly.

Eliminating foods that cause bloating from your diet is an excellent start for improving your digestive health, but chronic bloating may suggest that a deeper, underlying health issue is at work. In addition to avoiding foods that cause bloating, working with a natural healthcare practitioner to address the root cause of your digestive symptoms may be most effective when it comes to saying goodbye to the food baby for good.

This article was originally published on January 17, 2018, and has since been updated.