Woman's Photos Reveal a Common Body Problem People Have but Never Talk About

June 28th 2016

Almie Rose

By now, you've probably seen the before-and-after photos of Tiffany Brien, which went viral because of the shocking transformation the fitness blogger's body went through in about 12 hours.

"After a week or so I was showing people [these photos] in the kitchen over lunch at work and the girls were like, 'wow, I've got the same problem, too.' This made me think maybe it's not just me," Brien told ATTN. "So I decided to share the 'not so perfect' side of social media influencers and it has been the most interesting and rewarding thing I've ever done with my blog."

But what could cause such drastic bloating? ATTN: spoke to Dr. Andrew Ippoliti, Associate Chief of Gastroenterology/Liver at USC, for some answers. First, let's take a look at Brien's explanation.

"No I'm not 6 months pregnant. It's just my food baby."

Brien suffers from extreme bloating. It's so extreme that many have accused her photos of being fake. But there are many who believe that Brien is telling the truth, because they suffer from bloating as well, and want to give her a full-bodied high-five for putting her photos out there. Brien has apparently started a trend of women posting their before-and-after bloating photos.

There are many different reasons why someone may experience bloating.

"This photo is a bad day, a day I cannot tell you exactly what I ate that made me blow up," Brien wrote in the Facebook post. Ultimately, she attributes the bloat to something we all experience:

"Stress. The killer. I have a busy and stressful job which pushes me every day. I love my job and wouldn't change it for the world but I have to factor in de-stress time to help me unwind and allow my insides to untwist after a tough day in the office. Yoga, walks with the dog or just putting my feet up and watching Netflix normally do the trick."

Brien also told ATTN: she recommends another method: "I just drink peppermint tea, lie down and relax and honestly try not to think about it!"

Can stress really cause extreme bloating?

"Oh, sure. It's an element in any kind of chronic condition," Dr. Ippoliti explains. "I don't know what her diagnosis is. Bloating can be seen in lots of different circumstances, whether it's inflammatory bowel disease, or irritable bowel syndrome. But in both of these, stress does make [bloating] more symptomatic, often."


What should you do if you find your stomach flares up due to stress? Dr. Ippoliti says "it depends." Sometimes, the bloating can be due to constipation, in which case, Dr. Ippoliti recommends modifying your diet and increasing your fluid intake. "In the long run, if they have stress they can either modify in some way, or they can find some outlets to their stress, that's a great advantage," he advises.

What are some other reasons for bloating?

Crohn's disease is one sure sign. Extreme bloating is also linked to Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), which you can get tested for. And we've all heard about how certain foods can trigger gastrointestinal discomfort, hence gluten-free and lactose-free diets.

We asked Brien if she'd been tested for any of the above disorders. "Yes, I got tested for the works and nothing was ever wrong!" she told us. "It frustrated me so much because I nearly wanted it to come back positive to I could blame it on something. But the answer was always, 'no you're fine'..."

For some people though, certain foods are the clear culprit. Dr. Ippoliti recommends working with a dietician in order to figure out if there is a certain food that triggers your bloating, and/or to "really monitor what you're taking in on a daily basis."

What does he find to be the most common reason for bloating that people may not be aware of? "Lactose intolerance is huge. Most of the world is lactose-intolerant. If you look at it from a statistical point of view, the disease is being lactose-tolerant," Dr. Ippoliti said. 

[H/T Distractify]