How to Banish Bloat, Fluid Retention, and Puffiness in Hypothyroidism

Cooked broccoli and beef
Cooking vegetables instead of eating them raw can help banish bloating. Davide Illini/Stocksy United

Feeling bloated is a common complaint, especially in people with an underactive thyroid gland (called hypothyroidism). 

According to the American Thyroid Association, hypothyroidism can cause as much as five to ten pounds of weight gain just from the excess water alone. Some of that water weight gain can be in the face, causing puffiness around the eyes, as well as fluid retention and swelling in the hands, feet, and abdomen.

Here are some helpful tips on banishing the bloat, so you can feel (and look) your best. 

Optimize Your Thyroid Treatment

If you are hypothyroid ensure that your thyroid treatment is optimal. This means seeing your doctor for a blood test of your thyroid function.

While people usually see their doctor once a year for a thyroid blood test, it's a good idea to see your thyroid doctor (for example, your primary care doctor or endocrinologist) sooner if your bloating is new and/or bothersome. 

Adopting a Bloatless Diet

Being considerate of what you eat is paramount to managing your bloating, and what makes you bloat may not make others bloat, so it's important to be cognizant of your unique triggers.

Generally speaking, high fiber foods may produce gas, which can worsen your bloating. Likewise, salty foods, such as hot dogs, pizza, bread, soups, and processed foods, can worsen fluid retention.  

Research suggests that adhering to a low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polypols) diet can significantly ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, like bloating—so this may work well for you, too.


With that, some foods that are high in FODMAP (so you want to avoid), include: 

  • Wheat
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Certain fruits (for example, apples, apricots, cherries, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and watermelon)
  • Certain vegetables (for example, cabbage, cauliflower, artichokes)
  • Beans

Maintain Good Eating Patterns

Getting too full can also be a bloating culprit.

To avoid overeating, you may consider eating smaller meals throughout the day, sticking to the same mealtime every day, and not finishing everything on your plate  (stopping before you are full).

It's also important to slow down when you eat—a good tidbit is to give yourself around 30 minutes for a full meal.

A few other general dietary tips that may help ease bloating, include:

  • Don't chew gum, use a straw, or drink carbonated beverages, as swallowed air may cause bloating
  • Drink a 16-ounce glass of water 30 minutes prior to each meal, and make sure you are getting six to eight ounces of water daily.

Engage in Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Physical activity is another important step to banishing bloat. Make an effort to get more daily exercise, with a goal of at 30 minutes, five days per week (under the guidance of your doctor).

Another recommended lifestyle change is to stop smoking, since smoking can contribute to bloating—not to mention the other health benefits associated with stopping smoking.

Stretching and Massage

It may be helpful to massage your abdomen, by pressing your fingers by the hip, sliding across the ribs, and then down in a circular motion.

Other Medical Issues

  • Avoiding constipation is an important part of dealing with bloating. Ensure that you drink enough liquids and incorporate fiber into your diet.
  • It's important to know that some over the counter pain relievers, iron supplements, and prescription pain medications can cause constipation and bloating—talk to your doctor about alternative options or suggestions for minimizing their bloating effects. 
  • Check for food allergies or intolerances (lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, fructose malabsorption) as they can all contribute to bloating.

A Word From Verywell

While these tidbits can certainly help ease your bloating, it's best to discuss a plan with your personal physician. He may suggest the intermittent use of an over-the-counter drug, like Pepto Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) or the dietary supplement, Beano.


Ebert EC. The thyroid and the gut. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2010 Jul;44(6):402-6.

Halmos EP, Power VA, Shepherd SJ, Gibson PR, Muir JG. A diet low in FODMAPs reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterology. 2014 Jan;146(1):67-75.e5.