Helpful Hints for Controlling Gas (Flatus)
Everyone has gas, but for some people the gas may seem excessive, is very foul-smelling, and
can feel painful. Gas can be let out as flatus (gas passed through the anus) or belching.
Changing your diet may help reduce the problem. Different ideas help different people. There
are many causes of gas, so it is important to remember that there may be more than just one
factor leading up to it.
What you eat
Some foods produce more gas than others. This is different for every person. Try avoiding
some of these foods to see if it makes things better for you. Try to cut them out them one at a
time, so that you will be able to tell which food may be the culprit.
ξ Hot, spicy foods can speed up how fast food moves through your bowels, leading to gas
ξ Rich, fatty foods, especially fried foods, may increase gas
ξ Try to eat a balanced diet. High fiber foods may at first increase gas production.
However, this should lessen over time. Fiber is important, so do not completely avoid it.
ξ It may help to keep a food diary. Write down foods that seem to cause the gas.
Foods which may cause a normal amount of gas (allowed):
ξ meat, poultry, fish, tofu, eggs
ξ vegetables: lettuce, some peppers, tomato, zucchini, yellow squash, olives
ξ fruits: cantaloupe, honey dew, grapes, most berries, pineapple, oranges
ξ carbohydrates: rice, potato chips, popcorn, quinoa, corn tortillas, gluten-free bread
ξ all nuts when eaten in small amounts
ξ low lactose dairy like lactose free milk, cheddar, swiss, most yogurts
ξ jello, fruit ice
Food which may cause a moderate amount of gas (may need to limit or avoid):
ξ vegetables: asparagus, green bell peppers, kale, green beans, potatoes, corn, okra
ξ fruits: mango, plums, banana, raisins
ξ carbohydrates: sweet potato, lentils, pastries, bread, cookies
ξ dairy moderate in lactose such as cottage cheese, bleu cheese
Major gas producers (limit or avoid):
ξ vegetables: onions, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms
ξ fruits: apple, peaches, avocado, blackberries, apricots, dates, prunes
ξ carbohydrates: bagels, wheat germ, bran cereal/foods, beans, split peas
ξ dairy that is high in lactose like regular milk, ice cream, evaporated milk
ξ garlic and fennel, ingredients like chicory root, inulin, and sugar alcohols (found
in sugarless gums, mints, and other products) like sorbitol and mannitol
How you eat
Changing your eating behaviors may also help to reduce excess gas. This is because we can
swallow too much air when we eat a certain way. Try the following to reduce swallowing air:
ξ Eat more slowly.
ξ Talk less while eating.
ξ Eat meals at about the same time each day
ξ Try smaller meals more frequently
ξ Reduce or avoid chewing gum and hard candy
ξ Check your dentures to make sure they are not too loose
ξ Caffeine can increase bowel activity and increase gas
ξ Carbonated or “fizzy” drinks can increase belching and gas production. You can try
pouring them into a glass first to let some of the “fizz” out
ξ Beer can increase gas production.
ξ Drink fluids slowly, instead of gulping them down which can lead to more air swallowing
ξ Avoid using straws. You swallow more air sucking a straw than without it.
Remember that everyone tolerates foods differently. Some foods that are major gas producers
for some people may cause normal gas for others. The main goal is to reduce gas but still eat a
nutritious diet. If you try the above tips and still feel like you have excess gas, talk with your
doctor about other possible causes of your gas. There are over the counter medicines that may
help you relieve or prevent gas. Discuss these with your doctor.
What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?
What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the
phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s
Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500
Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at:
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 2/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the Department
of Nursing. HF#516