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You reach for a salad at lunch to get more nutrients and fiber for the day. However, you feel uncomfortable due to bloating and gas after eating it. So, in the end, a meal that should make you feel good makes you feel bad afterward.
Why does salad make you feel gassy and bloated? The main causes of gassiness and bloating after eating salad are the toppings and dressings. High-FODMAP foods like mushrooms and onions can cause the bacteria in your stomach to release more gas. Also, dressings can contain sodium and additives that irritate the gut.
Salads are an easy way to increase your daily vegetable intake, but you won’t want to eat them if they frequently make you feel gassy and bloated. In this article, I’ll provide more details about why you are having these symptoms and ways to fix them.
- Adding cooked vegetables instead of raw ones to your salad can reduce the risk of stomach problems because cooking breaks down some of the fiber in vegetables.
- Making a salad at home gives you more control over the foods you add and reduces exposure to high-sodium foods that can cause digestive symptoms.
- Not adding high quantities of lettuce (more than 180 g), eating more slowly, and having ginger or peppermint tea after your meal are some other ways to reduce bloating and gas after eating salad.
Common Salad Ingredients That Can Make You Gassy and Bloated
One of the reasons you might get gassy and bloated when you eat salads is the ingredients you add.
Carbs are the main reason you get gassy. When certain carbs travel to the intestines, the gut microbiome ferments them, creating gas. These carbs are often called FODMAPs (fermented oligo, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols).
Consuming high-FODMAP foods like the ones below can lead to bloating and gas:
- Legumes (beans, lentils, and chickpeas)
- Vegetables (artichokes, asparagus, bell peppers, bitter melon, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, celery, corn, fennel, garlic, mushrooms, onions, peas, and tomato)
- Fruits (apple, apricot, avocado, banana, blackberry, cherries, cranberries, dates, figs, grapes, mango, nectarine, peach, pear, and raisins)
- Milk products (yogurt and cheese)
- Gluten-containing products (croutons)
Does Lettuce Cause Gas and Bloating?
Lettuce is usually not the main reason you get gassy and bloated after eating salad. In fact, consuming small quantities of any type of lettuce (iceberg, butter, Romaine, or rocky top) is considered safe for those on a low-FODMAP diet.
You should be fine if you consume less than 75 g of lettuce. You might get some symptoms if you consume between 75 to 180 g. However, lettuce in quantities of 180 g or more is considered a high-FODMAP food that can increase the risk of bloating and gas.
But let’s say you get bloated even when consuming less than 75 g of lettuce. Why do you still feel uncomfortable?
There is a difference between bloating and abdominal distention.
Bloating is when you feel like a balloon is inside your stomach. Your stomach swells, and you feel gassy and uncomfortable. However, while your stomach may feel larger, there is no measurable change in its size or width.
On the other hand, abdominal distention is when your abdomen increases in size for reasons unrelated to an increase in gas.
In a study, researchers discovered that consuming lettuce produced less gut fermentation. The abdominal distention the participants experienced was related to changes in the abdominal muscles. Their stomachs had a measurable increase in size due to reflexes within the diaphragm and abdominal muscles that cause the stomach to stretch and expand.
As such, lettuce alone likely won’t make you gassy and bloated, but it might cause your abdomen muscles to distend.
4 Other Reasons That Salad Makes You Gassy and Bloated
1. You Eat Too Fast
One reason you feel gassy and bloated after having a salad is that you eat it too fast, causing you to swallow more air.
Also, when you chew fast, you don’t break down food into smaller chunks. Therefore, the food is harder to digest, increasing the risk of bloating and gas.
2. You Eat Too Many Raw Foods
Don’t get me wrong. Vegetables are highly nutritious, and you should include them in your diet to nurture the body.
However, raw vegetables are high in fiber, and some people are not used to consuming a lot of fiber.
So, you might get gassy and bloated when you eat a salad due to the higher consumption of raw vegetables.
3. Your Salad Dressing Has Too Many Irritating Ingredients
Another reason you might get gassy and bloated from salad is the dressing you use.
Store-bought salad dressings can also contain a lot of sodium, which can cause water retention and bloating.
4. You Eat From a Restaurant
Salads in restaurants or fast food places tend to have a high sodium content. This can be due to the dressings, the foods the chefs add, or how much salt the chefs add when cooking the protein toppings like chicken.
As discussed, a large sodium content can increase the risk of bloating, gas, and water retention.
How To Reduce Gas and Bloating After Eating Salad
There are some ways you can reduce bloating after you consume a salad.
Ginger is an amazing remedy to reduce bloating. Research shows that ginger can speed your digestion, reducing stomach issues.
My favorite ways to consume ginger are to add it to lemon water or heat it up to make tea.
Another remedy is drinking peppermint tea or licorice tea. Consuming these items can significantly reduce the symptoms of bloating and gas.
Ways To Avoid Gas and Bloating When Eating Salad
1. Make It At Home
The best way to avoid feeling gassy and bloated when eating a salad is to make it at home. This way, you can control the ingredients you use and the quantities of each.
I provide a list of salad ingredients that won’t cause digestive distress in the following section.
2. Use Salad Dressings With Gut-Friendly Ingredients
When it comes to dressings, the more natural, the better. You can make simple salad dressings at home using olive oil and vinegar. Olive oil, in particular, can help reduce inflammation in the body.
On the other hand, other vegetable oils such as corn, safflower, and sunflower oil are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can increase inflammation. In the end, more inflammation can lead to more stomach problems.
Here are some other delicious, healthy homemade salad dressing recipes to try if you’re unsure where to start.
Also, make sure to add only a small amount. Start with only one teaspoon of dressing and check for any symptoms. If you are okay, you can add more the following day until you reach a desired amount that doesn’t cause stomach problems.
- Related Article: 11 Low-Sodium Store-Bought Sauces, Dips, & Salad Dressing
3. Control the Amount of Lettuce
As we’ve seen, lettuce in small quantities should not be the culprit of your digestive symptoms. However, you might get more symptoms when you consume a high amount of lettuce (more than 180 g).
In that case, the best solution is to reduce the amount of lettuce you consume.
Make sure to consume around 75 g of lettuce to avoid increasing the risk of digestive symptoms. If you feel this is too little, you can add other leafy greens like kale and spinach to add more volume.
Since leafy greens are high in fiber, add them slowly if you are not used to having a lot of fiber in your diet. That way, your body can get used to the increased fiber without experiencing many digestive issues.
4. Chew Slower
Next time you have a salad, pay attention to how much time it takes to eat. You should spend roughly 20-25 minutes eating. Eating slower allows you to break down food, improving digestion and decreasing the air you swallow.
There are several ways you can reduce your eating speed:
- Eat with your non-dominant hand.
- Count the number of chews (an average of 30 chews).
- Put the utensils down between each bite.
5. Cook the Ingredients
Raw ingredients can be harder to digest. So, adding some heat to them can start digestion by breaking down some of the fiber in the food.
You can lightly heat the lettuce or any other vegetables you want to put in your salad for a couple of seconds before placing them in the salad bowl.
However, if lightly heated lettuce doesn’t sound tasty, stop eating salads for a couple of weeks and switch to cooked vegetables to allow your gut to heal. Once the symptoms stop, you can slowly start adding raw vegetables again.
6. Take Digestive Enzymes
If you’ve tried everything above and you still get gassy and bloated, adding some digestive enzymes can allow you to give your body that extra boost to handle the food better.
A good option is Zenwise Probiotic Digestive Multi Enzymes. They contain probiotics and enzymes, which can help improve digestion.
Salad Ingredients That Won’t Cause Gas and Bloating
So, what toppings can you add to your salad that won’t cause any gas or bloating?
Foods lower in FODMAPs are the best options to top your salad. Here is a list of foods you can include in your salad without worrying about stomach discomfort.
- Aged cheese (lower in lactose than fresh cheese)
- High-quality oils (olive, avocado, hemp, or coconut)
- Gut-friendly vegetables (alfalfa, arugula, bamboo shoots, sprouted beans, bok choy, collard greens, cucumber, ginger, jicama, kale, jalapeno, olives, parsnip, radish, spinach, squash, and tomatillos)
- Gut-friendly fruits (blueberries, carambola, durian, lemon, passionfruit, plantain, rhubarb, and tamarind)
- Meat and poultry
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Did My Salad Make Me Gassy?
Your salad could have made you gassy if it contained ingredients that upset your stomach. Lettuce on its own shouldn’t cause any stomach distress. However, adding high-FODMAP foods like legumes, onions, mushrooms, and apples to the salad can make you gassy.
How Do You Avoid Gas After Eating Salad?
You can avoid feeling gassy after eating a salad by chewing slowly, avoiding store-bought dressings high in sodium and additives, and not having too many raw vegetables. Drinking lemon ginger water can also reduce the symptoms if you feel gassy and bloated after eating a salad.
Other Foods That Can Cause Gas & Bloating
- Eggs Make Me Gassy & Bloated
- Nuts Make Me Gassy & Bloated
- Coffee Makes Me Gassy & Bloated
- Broccoli Makes Me Gassy & Bloated
- Oatmeal Makes Me Gassy & Bloated
- Garlic Makes Me Gassy & Bloated
About The Author
Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.