Many foods can cause digestive issues like bloating, especially for people with food intolerances or sensitivities. Making changes to your diet may help ease symptoms of bloating.

Bloating is when your belly feels swollen or enlarged after eating.

Bloating is very common. About 30% of people say they experience it regularly (1).

Although bloating may be a symptom of certain medical conditions, it is usually caused by gas, digestive issues, or dietary factors (1).

Here are 13 foods that can cause bloating, along with suggestions on what to eat instead.

1. Beans

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Beans are a type of legume.

They contain high amounts of protein and carbs. Beans are also very rich in fiber, as well as several essential vitamins and minerals (2).

However, most beans contain sugars called alpha-galactosides, which belong to a group of carbs called FODMAPs (3).

FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) are short-chain carbohydrates that escape digestion and are then fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. Gas is a common byproduct of this process (4).

For most people, FODMAPs provide fuel for the beneficial bacteria in the gut and should not cause any problems.

However, for many individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), excess gas is formed during the fermentation process. This may cause major discomfort, with symptoms like bloating, flatulence, cramping, and diarrhea (5).

Soaking and sprouting the beans is a good way to reduce the FODMAPs in beans. Changing the soaking water several times can also help (6).

What to eat instead: Soaking beans and reducing your portion size can help reduce bloating and gas. If symptoms continue or are severe, seek help from a medical professional.

2. Lentils

Lentils are also legumes. They contain high amounts of protein, fiber, and carbs, as well as minerals such as iron, copper, and manganese (7).

Because of their high fiber content, they can cause bloating in some people. This is especially true for people who are not used to eating a lot of fiber.

Like beans, lentils also contain FODMAPs. These sugars may contribute to excessive gas production and bloating, especially in people with IBS (8).

However, soaking or spouting the lentils before you eat them can make them much easier on the digestive system (6).

What to eat instead: Soaking or sprouting lentils and reducing your portion sizes may help ease symptoms like gas and bloating. If symptoms persist or are severe, consider consulting with a medical professional. You can also replace lentils with grains, meat, or quinoa.

3. Carbonated drinks

Carbonated drinks are another very common cause of bloating.

These drinks contain high amounts of carbon dioxide, a gas.

When you drink one of these beverages, you end up swallowing large amounts of this gas, which can get trapped and increase pressure in the stomach. This may lead to uncomfortable bloating and belching (9).

What to drink instead: Plain water is always best. Other healthy alternatives include coffee, tea, and fruit-flavored still water. You can also try limiting your intake of carbonated beverages to around 8 ounces (237 milliliters) per day.

4. Wheat

Wheat has been highly controversial in the past few years, mainly because it contains a protein called gluten (10).

Despite the controversy, wheat is still very widely consumed. It is an ingredient in most breads, pastas, tortillas, and pizzas, as well as baked goods like cakes, biscuits, pancakes, and waffles.

For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, wheat causes serious digestive problems, including bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain (11).

Wheat is also a source of FODMAPs, which can cause digestive problems in some people (4).

What to eat instead: There are many gluten-free alternatives to wheat, such as certified gluten-free oats, quinoa, buckwheat, almond flour, and coconut flour. There are also several alternatives to conventional wheat bread in this article.

5. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables

The cruciferous vegetable family includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and several others.

These vegetables are highly nutritious, containing many essential nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium (12).

However, they also contain FODMAPs, so they may cause bloating in some people (13).

Cooking cruciferous vegetables may make them easier to digest.

What to eat instead: There are many possible alternatives, including spinach, cucumbers, lettuce, sweet potatoes, and zucchini. You can also reduce your portion sizes or opt for cooked cruciferous vegetables instead.

6. Onions

Onions are underground bulb vegetables with a distinct taste and aroma. They are rarely eaten whole, but are popular in cooked meals, side dishes, and salads.

Even though they’re usually eaten in small quantities, onions are one of the main dietary sources of fructans. These are soluble fibers that can cause bloating (14).

Additionally, some people are sensitive or intolerant to other compounds in onions, especially raw onions (15).

Therefore, onions are a known cause of bloating and digestive discomfort. Cooking the onions may reduce these digestive effects.

What to eat instead: Try using fresh herbs or spices as an alternative to onions. Using the green portion of scallions or chives in fresh or powdered form may also be beneficial for those sensitive to the effects of fructans (16).

7. Barley

Barley is a commonly consumed cereal grain.

It is very nutritious, as it is rich in fiber and contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals like magnesium, manganese, and selenium (17).

Because of its high fiber content, whole grain barley may cause bloating in individuals who are not used to eating a lot of fiber (18).

Furthermore, barley contains gluten. This may cause problems for people who are intolerant to gluten (19).

What to eat instead: Refined barley, like pearl or scotch barley, may be tolerated better. Barley can also be replaced with other grains or pseudocereals like oats, brown rice, quinoa, or buckwheat.

8. Rye

Rye is a cereal grain that is related to wheat (20).

It is very nutritious and an excellent source of fiber, manganese, phosphorus, copper, and B vitamins (21).

However, rye also contains gluten, a protein that many people are sensitive or intolerant to (19).

Because of its high fiber and gluten content, rye may be a major cause of bloating in sensitive individuals.

What to eat instead: Consider reducing your portion sizes or opting for other grains or pseudocereals, including oats, brown rice, buckwheat, or quinoa.

9. Dairy products

Dairy is highly nutritious, as well as an excellent source of protein and calcium.

There are many dairy products available, including milk, cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, and butter.

However, about 65% of the world’s population is unable to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. This condition is known as lactose intolerance (22).

If you’re lactose intolerant, dairy can cause major digestive problems. Symptoms include bloating, gas, cramping, and diarrhea.

What to eat instead: People who are lactose intolerant can sometimes tolerate cream and butter, hard cheeses, or fermented dairy products like yogurt (23).

Lactose-free milk products are also available. Other alternatives to regular milk include coconut, almond, soy, or rice milk.

10. Apples

Apples are among the most popular fruits in the world.

They are high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, and have been linked with a range of health benefits (24, 25).

However, apples have also been known to cause bloating and other digestive issues for some people.

The culprits are fructose, which is a FODMAP, and the high fiber content of apples. Fructose and fiber can both be fermented in the large intestine, and may cause gas and bloating (8).

Cooked apples may be easier to digest than fresh ones.

What to eat instead: Opt for cooked apples, reduce your portion sizes, or choose other fruits instead, such as bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, mandarin oranges, or strawberries (8).

11. Garlic

Garlic is incredibly popular, both for flavoring dishes and as a health remedy.

Like onions, garlic contains fructans, which are FODMAPs that can cause bloating (8, 26).

An allergy or intolerance to other compounds found in garlic is also fairly common, with symptoms such as bloating, belching, and gas (15).

What to eat instead: Try using other herbs and spices in your cooking, such as thyme, parsley, chives, or basil. If you are sensitive to the fructan content of garlic, you can also use garlic-infused oils, garlic scape powder, or garlic chive powder (16).

12. Sugar alcohols

Sugar alcohols are used to replace sugar in sugar-free foods and chewing gums.

Common types include xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol.

Sugar alcohols are also FODMAPs. They tend to cause digestive problems, since they reach the large intestine unchanged where the gut bacteria feed on them (27).

Consuming high amounts of sugar alcohols may cause digestive issues, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

What to eat instead: Erythritol is also a sugar alcohol, but it is easier on digestion than the types mentioned above. Stevia is also a healthy alternative to sugar and sugar alcohols (28, 29).

13. Beer

Beer is a carbonated beverage and a common culprit of bloating.

This is because beer is made from sources of fermentable carbs like barley, maize, wheat, and rice, along with some yeast and water.

Therefore, it contains both gas (carbon dioxide) and fermentable carbs, both of which can cause bloating. The grains used to brew the beer also often contain gluten (8, 30).

What to drink instead: Limit your intake of beer to prevent bloating. If you are looking for alcoholic alternatives, then red wine, white wine, or spirits may cause less bloating.

Other ways to reduce bloating

Bloating is a very common problem, but can often be resolved with relatively simple changes to your diet.

There are several strategies that can help reduce bloating, outlined in this article.

If you have persistent digestive problems, then you may want to consider a low FODMAP diet. It can be incredibly effective, not just for bloating but for other digestive issues as well (8).

However, make sure to also see a doctor to rule out a potentially serious medical condition.

The bottom line

While many people are able to tolerate the foods listed above without any issues, certain ingredients may cause digestive symptoms for some people.

If you frequently experience gastrointestinal issues like gas or bloating after eating, it may be time to consider making changes to your diet.

If you find that many foods cause adverse symptoms or that you are becoming increasingly intolerant to foods, it may be best to consult with a medical professional.

A doctor or dietitian can help determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and the best course of treatment, which may include a combination of dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, or medications.