HELPING yourself to that second portion of turkey or a few extra chunks of cheese always seems like a good idea at Christmas – until the painful bloating hits shortly after.
And during the festive period, many people will have experienced it more than ever – including celebrities.
While many stars' social media feeds are usually packed full of six-packs and jaw-dropping bikini photos, more and more are now sharing honest and open posts revealing their battles with bloating too.
And the latest famous face to surprise her followers with a dramatic photo was Loose Women panellist Nadia Sawalha, 56, who shared the results of her over-indulgence over the festive season.
The mum-of-two let her belly hang out as she revealed she had given her 'food baby' a name and added: "We had so much fun making our little one 😉."
The post triggered a stream of comments from her followers who thanked her for her honesty and shared their own battles with bloating, with one writing: "Oh my gosh!!! This is the best post I’ve seen this Christmas! Love your honesty and real ness (sic)."
While nutritionist Kim Pearson says many things can cause bloating, a few main triggers can include overeating, food intolerances and stress – and it can be particularly bad around Christmas.
Nadia is far from alone in paving the way for real honestly on social media. Here we look at more stars baring all to remind the world how normal bloating really is…
Love Island star Maura Higgins, 30, was heavily praised by her fans this Christmas after sharing a photo of her "food baby" following some festive treats.
While the star is known for showing off her washboard abs in skimpy bikinis, fans praised her for keeping things real and candid this time round – as she showed her bloated stomach in some stripy pyjamas.
After asking her followers to vote if it was a "baby" or "food baby", she then shared some moving responses – with one person writing: "Thank you so much for showing us this."
Maura added: "We’re all feeling that Christmas bloat then."
One star who has been incredibly open with her fans about her troubles with bloating over the years is former TOWIE beauty Lucy Mecklenburgh, 29.
Lucy shared a candid message to her fans last year alongside photos showing her stomach up close, revealing she'd battled with bloating every night for 10 years.
"This is a slightly different post to my usual but I’m annoyed it’s taken me so long!" she wrote.
"2 days ago I posted a video on my story of my tummy bloated. I had 100’s of DM’s in minutes which really shocked me! This is something many of us clearly have to deal with!!
"And I’m frustrated with myself I haven’t been more open & honest about it in the past but the main reason maybe is that it felt embarrassing!!
"I train 3-4 times a week I eat a healthy balanced diet & I get this most nights for probably 10 years!!
"But I’ve never shared it with anyone maybe because i thought it looks bad as I have a health and fitness business and it didn’t make me a good advert for my business but actually I really wish I had as it doesn’t make me unfit or unhealthy it MAKES ME HUMAN!"
Lucy added how she has figured out a number of foods which were triggering the bloating, and said she now takes looser fitting clothes on holiday when she knows she might be indulging a bit more than normal.
"I know pasta, bread, dairy products, greasy fast food, alcohol, onions and raw veg causes me to become bloated (I worked this out myself through years or keeping food diaries & logging when I was bloated)," she added.
"But honestly sometimes IM LIKE WTF AM I ALLERGIC TO F****** WATER!!!!"
Lucy received plenty of support from fans, as well as fellow celebrities including former Coronation Street Catherine Tyldesley, who commented: "I'm the same momma…it's awful. Well done for sharing xxxxx."
Ashley James added: "So normal" while Corrie's Samia Longchambon wrote: "Love this Lucy."
She is known for her strict workout routines and healthy lifestyle, but former Hollyoaks beauty Gemma, 36, struggles with bloating too.
The actress and former Strictly star shared a video earlier this year poking fun at her stomach, as she paced around in some tracksuit bottoms and a sports bra.
She joked: "Genuinely look like I could be pregnant again today. If I wanted to pose for the Gram, I could just go [sucks in belly]. No one would know. But I'm struggling."
And that's not the only time she's shared footage of her bloated stomach, as she previously wrote on Instagram: "About to train. Embracing the period bloat… Still strong AF."
Gemma has also been incredibly open about embracing her post-baby body without feeling any pressure to push herself to lose her bump.
A post shared by Gemma Atkinson (@glouiseatkinson)
She wrote at 15 months after baby Mia's birth: "No pressure, no silly diets or quick fixes, no guilt about not doing it sooner and no killing myself in the gym or depriving myself of foods I enjoy.
"I made a promise to myself that I would strive to be the strongest I can be both mentally & physically for Mia, and there’s no better feeling when you get there. Parent life is tough, but so are you!"
Another star who's completely changed the conversation on social media over recent years is former Love Island star Malin Andersson, 47, who is regularly praised for her honest and real posts about body positivity.
And she recently opened up on struggling with IBS, as she shared a photo of her bloated stomach on social media.
A post shared by MALIN ANDERSSON (@missmalinsara)
Wearing a grey crop top and tracksuit bottoms, she showed her stomach close to the camera and wrote: "IBS. A physical condition many people suffer with.
"IBS is a long-term condition of the digestive system which can be painful and difficult to live with if you don’t have your symptoms under control. The most common symptoms are stomach pains, cramping, bloatedness and diarrhoea."
She added: "I developed IBS in my teenage years, after struggling with my self image I abused laxatives to empty out my body.
"I remember waking up each day with awful cramps and having to go toilet just so I could ‘look and feel skinnier’ I now suffer in my adult life and struggle to eat gluten and other types of food that make my tummy sensitive."
The post inspired many fans to share their own battles, with one revealing she'd spent time in hospital with IBS, while another added: "Love this caption, nice to be reminded you’re not alone in things."
For many people, bloating can happen in an instant and often without warning – as was the case for Zara McDermott.
She shared a series of very honest shots taken just hours apart in June, revealing how her stomach bloated.
The 24-year-old, who is dating Made In Chelsea's Sam Thompson, revealed a picture of her at 8am with a totally flat stomach, posing in her bathroom.
She then shared a snap of her tummy looking swollen at 8.30pm that same night.
Zara wrote: "I am so aware that most of the time we tend to put out the best versions of ourselves on social media. And I am usually guilty of this!
"But let me show you this. The first pic I took THIS MORNING at 8am when I’d just woke up!
"The second pic was at 8:30pm. How much a body can change in the space of a few hours is WILD!
"This pic doesn’t do it justice of how bad my bloating can get! I suffer badly with bloating, as I am quite intolerant to meat and eggs.
"I also find that fruit bloats me a lot too. I don’t get any other symptoms, however, other than just the bloating.
"I just wanted to show you guys that my body isn’t always as sculpted and hourglass as it looks online."
Sam was among the first to applaud her honesty, writing: "👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻" in the comments section.
A fan added: "Love how real you are! Thank you for posting! You still look amazing! I’m exactly the same due to my pesky IBS. We should all love ourselves no matter what we look like."
Geordie Shore star Chloe Ferry, 25, is known for keeping it real on social media, and she showed her followers the effects of five breakfasts in August.
She asked: "Is anyone else like me? Before you go on holiday you train a little bit and eat healthily because you want to feel confident in a bikini.
"So I've got on holiday and tried to be as healthy as I can. That hasn’t happened. When you go to an all inclusive…
"Five breakfasts I had this morning. Omelettes, croissants, French toast, even a f*****g hash brown. I had the cheek to have a hash brown.
"My diet is out the window. Out the window.
"It's really funny. I’ll complain about it, that I feel bloated, I don’t feel great, but then do the exact same thing the next day.
"I’ll have five breakfasts again. I don’t help myself to be honest."
She also reminded followers that pictures were all about angles and body poses.
She told anyone feeling negative about their bodies: "Just remember guys it’s all about the good angles and the breathing in."
Pasta can be a top culprit for many people, and Love Island's Gabby Allen, 28, showed the results of just one pasta meal for her in August.
The star revealed she'd taken a well-earned break from her strict food and fitness regime on holiday in Ibiza at the time, insisting "balance is key".
A post shared by ɢᴀʙʙʏ ᴅᴀᴡɴ ᴀʟʟᴇɴ (@gabbydawnallen)
She proudly shared a stunning snap of her stomach on the evening of the meal, before taking another one the morning after – showing how much the bloating had gone down – and wrote: "Just found this from my holiday!
"The left was me before bed, after probably a lovely big bowl of pasta and the right is me the day after! Oh what a difference a night of sleeping digestion can make.
"I (sic) been asked loads how I stayed disciplined on holiday and the truth is! I didn’t! I indulged in great food, I drank a hella load of alcohol and I had many an ice cream!
What causes bloating?
There can be a number of causes for bloating, but nutritionist Kim Pearson says there are a few triggers to watch out for:
- Avoid overeating: Overeating is one of the most common causes of bloating, particularly around Christmas time. It takes time for our brain to register that our stomach is getting full, so eating too quickly means we can be full before we know it. Slow down your eating. Pause and put down your knife and fork between mouthfuls and aim to eat until you’re no more than 80 per cent full.
- Watch out for foods that trigger bloating: Common foods that can trigger bloating include: wheat, dairy, carbonated drinks and artificial sweeteners. A simple way to tell whether a specific food is triggering your bloating is to keep a food diary, writing down what you eat and as well as making a note when you felt bloated.
- Regularity is key: When we don’t have regular bowel movements, a build-up of waste can occur leading to gas in the bowel and in turn, this can promote bloating. Fibre is essential for keeping us regular. We should be aiming for around 30g per day but many of us struggle to consistently hit that target. Up your fibre intake by including fibre rich vegetables at each of your meal such as, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, avocados and kale.
- Balance your bacteria: Probiotic ‘good’ bacteria line our gut wall and aid in the digestion of food. A lack of these beneficial bacteria can compromise our digestive function and lead to bloating. We can support our beneficial bacteria by regularly eating fermented foods such as tempeh, miso, sauerkraut and kefir.
- Calm down: Many of us have experienced heightened stress over the past year, and this has the potential to compromise digestive function. It's not uncommon for those suffering with IBS to experience worsening of their gut symptoms when they are stressed. Identify a daily practice you can take up that can help you to relax. This might be listening to a 10 minute meditation first thing in the morning before getting out of bed, going for a walk in nature or keeping a journal to help you process your thoughts and feelings.
While infrequent bloating can be very common, Kim says persistent bloating may be a sign of a more serious health concern – so it's important to seek medical help if you're concerned.
"It’s important to consult your doctor promptly if your symptoms persist or if your bloating is accompanied by pain, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, change in bowel movements, blood in your stools or vomiting," she says.
"BUT I did train when I felt up to it, and I did have the odd salad and green juice! Holidays are for resting and enjoying yourself so don’t be afraid to do so!
"I suggest trying to train at least 1/2 times a week just to keep up your stamina as mine has definitely depleted but it was worth it! I wouldn’t change a thing! that old chestnut: BALANCE IS KEY."
Former Corrie star Catherine Tyldesley, 37, has also revealed she suffers with extreme bloating from time to time – and even went as far as reassuring her fans she wasn't pregnant in 2019.
Sharing a snap of her stomach, she wrote: "Seriously? Wtf? I'm NOT pregnant… but my tummy appears to have gone completely MENTAL!"
And in reference to Lucy's own post, she added: "@lucymeck1… something in the water babes? Literally?!"
When celebs appear on I'm A Celebrity, many of them are forced to cut down their daily food intake dramatically – surviving some days on just rice and beans.
So when Rebekah Vardy left the jungle in 2017, she suffered with very painful bloating after indulging in the food she'd missed.
The WAG, 38, told her followers she was in pain because of the extreme bloating – which happened after she gorged on the rich food.
She told her fans: “I lost a stone in the jungle & then came out and ate everything in sight
“So now I’m in so much pain because I’m ridiculously bloated. Bob knows best, I should have stuck to his advice!”
A post shared by Becky Vardy (@beckyvardy)
Medic Bob normally advises stars not to eat too much rich food when they leave the camp as it could make them ill.
And another star to impress fans with her honesty and bravery was Love Island star Alexandra Cane, who opened up on the debilitating effects of bloating earlier this year.
Alexandra has lost an incredible two stone to help her combat anxiety and focus on her mental health, but the reality star admitted that her body had begun rejecting certain foods.
"So I’ve suffered with bloating for many years on and off. Initially, when I first got diagnosed with IBS I was given Buscopan & told to see how I get on," she told fans.
"I refused to take them. I wasn’t satisfied with the response I got and decided to get to the root of the problem. I did this through looking at what I was consuming."
"WE ARE WHAT WE EAT," she added, claiming that she was able to get "rid of my IBS at one stage through eating super nutritious foods etc".
She said that "more recently, my bloating has made an appearance again so I wanted to touch on something new", claiming that refined sugars, starchy carbs and artificial sweeteners cause her body to swell.
Alexandra also shared that the bloating has a "massive effect" on her mental health, leaving her feeling "heavy, lethargic, have brain fog, don’t want to exercise cause I’m in pain/discomfort, don’t fit in my clothes well".
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