Bloating and IBS

How to look and feel pregnant when you’re not!

Man holding his big distended bloated belly.

I’m pretty sure this guy isn’t pregnant, but bloating can get this bad!
© Can Stock Photo

A bloated belly and gas are two awful symptoms of IBS that often come together. The pain from trapped gas, the pooched out belly and swollen, full feeling each cause their own kinds of misery. Clothes don’t fit and the gas can cause abdnominal spasms that can make you WISH you could pass out!

What is bloating?

Well, there can be many causes of bloating (stomach flu, menstruation, etc.). Since this is an IBS website we’re going to be talking (or reading) about the abdominal bloating that’s part of IBS. That’s when your belly swells up and makes you feel miserable for no apparent reason :(.

If you have the gas that often causes or accompanies abdominal bloating then you can have terrible belly pain. Another reason people become bloated is due to an inflamed colon. Blood fills up the tissue of the intestinal tract causing it to swell, often causing abdominal pain and discomfort.

And I’m not kidding when I say it can make you bloated enough to look pregnant.

What causes a bloated belly?

Businesswoman With Exercise Ball Like She Had a Bloated Belly

A bloated belly can make you feel like your belly is going to pop your clothes.
© Can Stock Photo

In the case of IBS, a bloated belly may be caused by food sensitivities that irritate your intestines, or foods that cause you to have excess gas.

In either case finding out which foods cause your bloating are your first priorities! A food elimination diet or a food sensitivity test can go a long way to help that. If your body is sensitive to certain foods, it’s sure to cause and inflamed colon at some point.

Lactose intolerance, a sensitivity to milk products is one of the most common causes of belly bloating, but there are many others.

How can I prevent this kind of bloating?

Well, assuming you’ve been to your doctor, and ruled out other problems like inflammatory bowel disease, etc., I think you should try cutting back on foods that give you gas (Beans, dairy and broccoli for me; heck, beans for just about everyone!). You could also try the food elimination diet link above to see if there are foods that you are sensitive to. Also, I’d check out the food sensitivity section of this site.

A quick list of foods that may cause a bloated belly would include:

As always make sure you’ve checked with your doctor to make sure there’s nothing serious going on!

I hope it helps.



  1. Reply

    Hi Shawn,

    i have two issues with my stomach that i think are related to IBS. One is the bloating, which expands my entire stomach, from the bottom of my chest down to lower abdomen. that usually subsides in a few hours.

    the other, and this is where i would like some insight, is the hard, basketball like bump i feel in my lower abdomen. some days its really bad, and some days not, but usually always there. i was able to minimize it after the low fodmap diet, but then i lost too much muscle and weight.

    my question is, does anyone else feel like this? the bouncy ball as i call it swells up my entire lower stomach, and you can see it through my shirt, and its round and hard to touch.

    I appreciate any feedback

  2. Reply

    Hi Shawn

    I suffer from two things, both i think which stem from IBS. One is the bloating, which happens almost every day, depending on what i eat. this usually subsides after a few hours. the more constant issue is that i feel like i have a hard ball stuck in my lower abdomen. i push on it, and it literally bounces back like a balloon. i did a low fodmap, and it all but went away, but i lost so much muscle and weight due to the strict limitations of it.

    i eat healthy regularly, and exercise.

    i was just curious if you or anyone else had the same issue with a hard balloon type lower abdomen

  3. Reply

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  4. Reply

    HI I am bloated with gas but I am 7 months pregnant

  5. Reply

    Hi. I haven’t been diagnosed with IBS, but when I wake up my belly is very thin. After each meal I eat it blows up. By the end of the day I look 4 months pregnant, this bloating COMPLETELY subsides when I go to sleep every night. Is this a classic IBS symptom? I’m goin to the doctors soon but for peach of mind before then I would like to rule out other possibilities.
    I also have spasms under my left and right rib up to my underarm. I have frequent gas too.

    Please help!

    • Reply

      Bloating, and gas, etc., are OFTEN associated with IBS. I would guess that is where your doctor will head. Hopefully it will be something easier to fix, like SIBO or something like yeast. GOOD LUCK!

  6. Reply

    Shawn, my sister suffers from diarrhea and some cramping. She (runs) to the bathroom more than 7 times a day, she is never constipated. She has went to the doctor and had a bunch of tests and they came back negative. I have tried to get her to eat better, but she says she is always full after a few bites. The only thing that is constant is that when she comes home at night, she has her (3) cans of beer and then off to bed. Could this be the cause? She is unable to go out with friends because of this problem. Not sure if the Doctor checked for IBS or not. Thank you for any help that you can give. Tina

    • Reply

      What I think is that something is irritating her bowels, or something is out of balance. I wouldn’t be surprised if the beer played a role, but there could be other things. The trouble is finding out what.

      If she’s already had all the tests, and if the doctor can’t find anything then, in my thinking, the next step is to try and find out if there are foods or drinks, or medications she’s taking that could be causing the problem. The best way to do that is to find out more about “food intolerance” and a “food elimination diet” If you use the search, I have info here at the site about it.

  7. Reply

    Shawn, this is the best site about our conditions. Everything you write is so very helpful for the average person. I have suffered for so many years. I am having an ensocpy (spelling) on January 10 to see if that is causing some of my IBS. Small intestine problem can make a lot of this happen. So I think, not a dr. Sugar is my big problem. addictive I am and I am having a bad time this last week. Love the heating pad, my best friend.

  8. Reply

    my boyfriend has bloating and diarreha almost everyday now after eating sometimrs at night he has a drink before bed and latley he get sick and diarreha right away .

    • Reply

      Hi Sherri, There are a lot of things that can lead to this sort of problem. If your boyfriend is sensitive to a food, like gluten/wheat or dairy, then that could certainly be an issues. You two may want to look at the Is a Food Intolerance Causing Your IBS? page. Also A lot of people are sensitive to alcohol, see the Alcohol and Diarrhea page.

      As always, if something like chronic diarrhea persists, he should DEFINITELY see a medical professional. There could be a simple fix, or he might find out there’s a problem. Best to catch problems EARLY!

  9. Reply

    Hi Shawn…

    Your website has been a big help to me in answering so many questions that my doctor had no answers for.

    I have IBS however, I am fortunate enough not to get cramping etc., every day. I do however suffer every day from bloating and look 7 months pregnant by noon and probably should go out on maternity leave! I am not overweight but I look overweight
    because of the bloating. Probiotics have helped.

    I just went gluten free and it looks like I might have to go dairy free too.

    Thanks for your informative website, it really helped me a lot.

    • Reply

      Hi Marlene, I’m glad you found information and comfort here. Your maternity leave quip was funny, but I know it’s not funny to live through. I’m glad the probiotics are helping. I don’t eat gluten or dairy either. I have problems with both, but I KNOW dairy is the worst for me! I hope that your diet changes help you. If you go dairy free and it helps, I hope you’ll leave another comment here, so we can all benefit from your experience. Thanks! Shawn

  10. Reply

    That really does help. I eat far too much sugar and by the end of the day I always look 3 months pregnant. So, I’m going to try cutting out sugar… coffee and milk for a while and see if it improves.
    Thanks again, this blog is so helpful :)

    • Reply

      Thank you for the kind words Marie! I hope your changes help you feel better. – Shawn

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