Sip and snack your way to a happier stomach by avoiding these habits and foods that can make you bloated.

By Mike Roussell, Ph.D.
Updated September 27, 2019
Tara Moore/Getty Images

You already know to avoid bubbly drinks if you don’t want to be burping all day, but are you aware of what foods make you bloated? Below, we’re dishing on the top culprits that make your stomach say, “oh no,” and what quantities really do damage. 

Here are a few foods that make you bloated so you can avoid them when you’re feeling overextended. (On the flip side, check out 10 foods that actually help combat bloating.)

  1. Carbonated drinks. Although they won't cause abdominal bloating like other foods on this list, the air infused in the drinks during the carbonation process may cause gas buildup in your stomach. This leads to discomfort, bloating and most likely belching, but it's a very transient effect that should only last a few hours. 
  2. Sugar-free gum, candies, and desserts. What foods make you bloated? Ones that contain sugar alcohols, that’s for sure. They are poorly digested (if at all), which leaves them to be feasted on by the gut bacteria, leading to increased gas production and bloating. Xylitol, a sugar alcohol has some added beneficial effects on your oral health, is generally better tolerated, while sorbitol and mannitol are not. Try to limit sugar-free desserts to a maximum of one per day. A few sticks of sugar-free gum a day shouldn't be a problem—just don't consume more than one pack a day. (Related: Which is Really Healthier, Sugar or Artificial Sweeteners?)
  3. Broccoli and cabbage. The class of vegetables that includes broccoli and cabbage is notorious for causing bloating. The bloating has less to do with their high fiber content (a common scapegoat) but more to do with the nondigestible carbohydrates they contain. Reducing the amount of these foods that you eat in one setting could be enough to eliminate the occurrence of any bloating. If you love these foods and don't want to reduce or give them up, try a supplement like Bean-O, which will provide your body with enzymes needed for the digestion of these carbs. The indigestible carbohydrates will then be broken down and digested, leaving nothing for bacteria to feast on.
  4. Dairy foods. Dairy can cause bloating at a variety of levels, due to the malabsorption of lactose, the sugar found in dairy. When considering what foods make you bloated in terms of yogurt, milk, and cheese, it varies widely based on a person's ability to digest lactose. The amount of lactose in different dairy foods is also variable. Because of this, it may take some time to determine your level of lactose (in)tolerance and how that translates into what kinds and how much of dairy foods you can eat. (Related: The Pros and Cons of Consuming Dairy)

The Bottom Line On What Foods Make You Bloated

Side effects from drinking carbonated beverages like bloating and gas are more of a nuisance than a health issue, but excessive bloating from sugar alcohols and other poorly digested carbohydrates, if left unchecked, may be indicative of bigger digestive problems such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. If anything seems off, keep a food journal, then talk to your physician about your response to eating these foods. This could be the first step to stop bloating and get your digestive tract back on track.

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