Feeling like you’ve gained 10 pounds overnight? If you often look down at your stomach with dismay, don’t be too hard on yourself. It might actually not be fat gain but rather, you could simply just be bloated.

Bloating and/or water retention are a common problem for many and can really change your overall appearance. If you feel like you look slimmer when you wake up than when you go to bed, bloating could be the culprit.

Fortunately, by identifying some of the most common reasons you are bloated, you can fix this problem once and for all. Most people know the most common reason of bloating – excess salt intake – but often, there are many other potential reasons at play.

Here are five sneaky reasons you’re bloated and what you can do about them.


1. You Chew Gum Regularly


Do you pop a stick of gum multiple times per day? If so, this could be behind your bloat. As hard as it may be to believe, chewing gum can have an influence on how you look. Each time you chew that gum, you’ll be taking in excess air, which can then lead to that bloated stomach you’re trying to avoid.

Fix It Tip:

To fix this, try sucking on a mint instead. This involves less air intake and should reduce your bloating while still leaving you with fresh breath.



2. You’re Going Sugar-Free Too Often


In an attempt to get healthier and reduce body fat, you’re likely cutting sugar out every chance you get. You drink diet soda, eat sugar-free yogurt, snack on low carb chocolate – if it’s sugar free, you eat it.

While it’s great to cut back on sugar, you have to ask yourself, what else is in these foods making them taste sweet?

The answer is artificial sweeteners. Often, these can leave people bloated and retaining water.

Start paying more attention to how much artificial sweeteners you’re taking in. These sweeteners are in everything these days and it can really add up. Start being more aware and cutting back when you can and you may just notice some positive improvements in your bloating.

Fix It Tip:

Don’t be afraid to indulge in some natural sugar. Opt for a piece of fruit when you need something sweet.



3.You’re Consuming Dairy


Dairy is a big problem for many people and the root cause of bloating along with abdominal discomfort. If you get gassy and bloated after drinking milk or eating yogurt, you know your cause.

There are two ways around this.

Fix It Tip:

First, try opting for dairy free food choices. Try almond milk for instance or soy based yogurts.

If you simply can’t do without the ‘real thing’, start taking some digestive enzymes. These enzymes will help you better break down the lactose (milk sugar) in dairy that’s leading to your feelings of being bloated.



4. You’re Overdoing Fiber


You know that fiber is healthy for you and as such, have started to boost your intake. But, if you go from zero to 60 in a matter of days, you’re going to be feeling the effects. Too much dietary fiber can lead to bloating, not to mention diarrhea.

Fix It Tip:

Keep things slow and steady. Add no more than about 5 grams per week to your overall fiber intake and make sure that you aren’t overdoing it at any point. No one needs to eat more than 30-35 grams of fiber daily.



5. You’re Chronically Stressed


Finally, the last thing that can lead to bloating that you may not even realize is occurring is ongoing levels of stress. If you are highly stressed out, this anxiety could be causing digestive distress, changing how you break down the foods you eat.

You may have food sitting in your gut longer, which is only increasing the chances that bloating occurs.

Fix It Tip:

Start taking inventory of how you’re feeling throughout the day. What is your stress level at? Rate it on a scale from one to ten.

If you are coming in at a six or higher most days of the week, changes need to be made. Practice stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, writing in a stress journal, or taking a long, hot, relaxing bath.

Most people don’t even realize how stressed they are until they really tune into their body.

So there you have five things that could be causing you bloating without you even realizing it. Do any of these apply to you?