When one Instagram fitness model posted a series of bare-bellied photos, her followers thought she was sharing a pregnancy announcement. Instead, she was showcasing an intense case of bloat — all to prove a point.
Michelle Middleton is a bodybuilder and figure competitor who normally posts photos of her hardcore training sessions and inspiring before-and-after photos, but she took a break to reveal a candid truth about her journey to fans.
The 30-year-old Vancouver native posted a series of pictures on December 10 of her bloated belly next to a slimmer, more defined shot of her stomach.
When I say I’m bloated... I’m bloated 😂. I do these bloat posts every now and then but people still get surprised at how big my belly gets. Yes I get bloated and it happens when I eat certain foods. I pretty much know which foods are going to do it (high FODMAP) but sometimes I will eat it anyways 🙈. Like earlier I had Greek yogurt and I got bloated within a few minutes but the bloat only lasted for a few hours and now I’m back to normal 🤗. The foods that make me the most bloated are yogurts, protein powders, apples, pears, watermelon, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus.
“When I say I’m bloated… I’m bloated… People still get surprised at how big my belly gets,” she began in the caption.
“Yes I get bloated and it happens when I eat certain foods. I pretty much know which foods are going to do it (high FODMAP) but sometimes I will eat it anyways,” Middleton continued. “Like earlier I had Greek yogurt and I got bloated within a few minutes but the bloat only lasted for a few hours and now I’m back to normal.”
She said those bloat-inducing foods include yogurts, protein powders apples, pears, watermelon, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus.
Middleton told Cosmopolitan UK she was encouraged to share the candid shots because it’s an issue she deals with “despite trying to attain a good physique.”
"If it's just me or friends hanging out at home then it doesn't bother me," she said of her bloating. "But if I have to be in a bikini or out in public then it's horrifying."
Many of Middleton’s more than 100,000 followers shared similar stories of belly bloat and praised the fitness influencer for bringing the awkward issue to light.
“OMG..... I thought I was the only one who got bloated like this from eating certain things. I feel like I’m 9 months pregnant late at night & then it’s gone when I wake up,” one follower wrote. “My trigger foods are bread & anything with corn syrup in it. Thank you for posting your bloated before & after pics!!!!!”
BLOAT // I get bloated all the time 🙄. I pretty much know what foods are going to bloat me so it’s just a matter of if I care or not 😂. I followed #fodmap in the past to figure out what works or doesn’t work for me and it helped immensely. That’s why I recommend girls who tend to get bloated to try a low Fodmap diet. So don’t freak out if your bloated. It’s only temporary and will go away. Some tips I have for if your feeling bloated is a) drink lots of water &/or hot tea b) clean up your diet & avoid foods that you don’t digest well c) get your sweat on 💦. I always feel better after going to gym 😸. Hopefully these tips help! A few of you have also asked about water weight/retention and when I feel like I’m holding onto extra water I make sure to drink more water (when your dehydrated your body will hold onto more water), eat cucumbers 🥒 throughout the day (natural diuretic) or go sit in the dry sauna (after drinking a gallon of water that day). Oh another girl that gets super bloated is @jellydevote. Check her out... she gets it even worse then me 🙀 Shorts @paragonfitwear -MICHELLE for 11% off
“I'm not alone!” another added.
Middleton said this support and education is a main reason why she chooses to showcase her bloat in between fitspiration posts.
"I think it makes the person more relatable if they show that they get bloated rather than show that they have a perfectly flat stomach or 6 pack 24/7. I think a lot of people don't show that side because it can be embarrassing and unattractive,” she admitted.
But is this extreme bloat really normal? Specialist dietician Kisten Crothers told Cosmo UK that bloating happens when the stomach increases in size, usually caused by excess gas being produced in the large bowel.
“Most people will suffer from bloating at some point in their life,” she said. “However, those who suffer with this regularly do so because of a digestive problem such as IBS, coeliac disease or food intolerances.”
Crothers agreed with Middleton that foods high in FODMAPs — a group of carbohydrates broken down in the large bowl by gut bacteria — are known to trigger bloating and IBS.
”Since I know exactly what kinds of foods will bloat me I simply won't eat them if I don't want to look 6 months pregnant," Middleton said of her strategy to avoid bloating.
"It can be really frustrating to have these issues. Some people don't even know that they have bloating issues and don't understand why they also look so huge despite eating so well and exercising. I thought I just had a really weird ability to have super huge food babies and didn't realize it was a matter of certain foods not digesting well. Once I figured out what problem was and could control it, it has been a life saver,” she added.
Brothers suggests that anyone who experiences painful, severe or regular bloating visit a doctor to “rule out digestive health diseases which may need medical treatment.”
If the tests are negative, she suggests following a regular exercise routine, regular low FODMAP, fiber-rich meals and practicing relaxation techniques.