The Hook Up: 1-5-2011

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I don’t know how to put this delicately, so I’ll just say it: My girlfriend has a gas problem. Her diet is great (she’s a chef even!) and she’s not like obnoxious about it or anything. She leaves the room when she can, but man, sometimes it smells so foul that I want to fumigate her entire gastrointestinal tract. I know in the long run, this is not a big deal, but it’s still gross and I don’t really know how to deal with it! Help! — Bean There, Done That

Anna says: Finally, a serious question! Happy New Year to me. I will help your wind-breaker transform into the beautiful firework that Katy Perry intended us all to be, minus the explosions I guess. So maybe one of those sparklers or ashy snake things.

According to The Mayo Clinic, which has devoted several web pages to the topic, but is probably useless for Trivial Pursuit nights, the leading cause of gas is bad digestion. The big dietary offenders are: beans, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, peanuts, raw apples, dairy and foods heavy in preservatives. So if she’s eating any of those with regularity, tell her to drop that faster than a straight-to-DVD Olsen Twins movie. Another biggie is soy, which is heavily processed and hence harder for us to digest. As someone who has dated my fair share of vegans, I can personally attest to the havoc that tofu has wreaked on the conjugal bed! Less common, but no less poignant, causes for gas involve eating too quickly, drinking from a straw, and listening to too much Taylor Swift.

If she’s a tea drinker, pour her some chamomile, ginger or peppermint tea with meals. Also, curiously, liquids that are carbonated keep the gas in belch form, but I’m of the mind that that is still gross and not actually a solution, so take that as you will. Others suggest that going for a short walk right after a meal helps digestion, as opposed to plopping down immediately on the couch with a True Blood DVD and a second tray of mini-quiches (add Susan Boyle’s autobiography to that and I may have just described my New Year’s Eve).

Of course, I wouldn’t be a very convincing fake doctor if I didn’t also tell you that there are more serious ailments attached to excessive gas, like irritable bowel syndrome, Chrohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. So, like those commercials for anti-depressants where a group of girlfriends go out to a club and flirtily rattle off a string of medical side effects about Xanax as if it were natural conversation, be sure to tell her to consult her doctor if you think it’s something more serious than “too much cauliflower.”

Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a professional tweeter/blogger for Mother Jones and a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at [email protected].

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