Most of us have experienced them. Those frustrating days you’re so bloated that successfully squeezing into your skinny jeans would literally take a team of three. Okay, so maybe you had one too many complimentary muffins at the office meeting yesterday…but, you normally eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. So why does it suddenly look like you’re carrying twins? Seriously, what gives? Whether you deal with belly bloat chronically or only occasionally, being bloated can be uncomfortable not to mention totally annoying. And with bikini season upon us, most of us can use all of the help we can get.
Fortunately, I have been on a personal crusade for much of my adult life to find the most efficient, effective ways to alleviate bloat. Absolutely nothing sabotages a flat belly like a bad case of bloating. And trust me; I’m no stranger to it. The good news is that with a few dietary and lifestyle changes, belly bloat is treatable! The following are some of the best, tried and true ways I’ve found to help ‘deflate’ a swollen tummy.
Can the Canned Goods: Though soda is one of the worst culprits for bulging bellies, most anything that comes in a can should be avoided. Canned soups, veggies and beans are packed in salt and other bloat-inducing liquids to preserve them. However, if you’re a starving student who relies on canned baked beans to survive, try running them (and most other canned goods) under cold water for 30 seconds to help ‘cut’ down on some of the sodium.
Shut Your Mouth: No, seriously. Be aware that habits like gum chewing, drinking through straws, and talking while you’re eating because you tend to swallow excess air and contribute to the dreaded swollen tummy.
Sip Some Mint: Peppermint tea helps to relax the digestive tract, promote normal peristalsis, and it’s a must for me before a big night out. It’s extraordinarily effective when it comes to banishing bloating. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it also freshens breath! (Not a fan of mint flavor? Try sipping on some dandelion root tea, which is perhaps even more effective in my opinion. You can find it at most health food stores.)
Limit Dairy: Unfortunately, most of us must learn to limit cheese since dairy can be a source of intestinal distress and, in turn, bloating. Yes, life is cruel.
Take Probiotics: Made up of good living bacteria, probiotics help regulate the amount of healthy bacteria in our systems. Look for anything that reads ‘live and active cultures’ on its packaging. I take a daily Lactobacillus supplement and it’s proven to be my saving grace many times. (Alternatively, many yogurts contain said good bacteria. Just make sure you buy the stuff with no added sugar.)
Walk it Out: Go on a quick post-meal walk. Physical activity gives the digestive system a boost and cardio exercise helps to activate the sweat glands that can help the body to release excess fluid. A simple 10 minute jog around the neighbourhood is sufficient!
Self-Massage: Your neck and back aren’t the only areas that can become ‘knotted’. Indigestion is a huge culprit when it comes to stomach bloat. So, next time you’re feeling bloated give yourself an abdominal massage. Place firm pressure (using four fingers) below your belly button and massage your midriff area in circular motions to help facilitate the movement of bowels. Sounds weird but it really works.
Up Your Protein: Looking for something to eat prior to slipping into that LBD? Opt for protein rich items as they can further help to reduce puffiness. Foods like chicken, tuna, seeds and almonds are good options. (Plus, protein rich foods are more filling and may help hinder snacking and salt cravings.)
Water, Water and More Water: Although it seems counter-intuitive to drink more of what your body’s retaining, it’s exactly what you need to do. Retaining water is actually your body’s way of holding onto fluid so that you don’t dehydrate. The answer? Push more water rather than restrict it. Cut out excess salt and drink two to three litres of water per day a few days prior to hitting the beach. Additionally, since lemons are a natural diuretic and laxative, start each day off with some warm lemon water. It’ll help rev up your metabolism for the day and frankly, you won’t believe your abs, er, eyes.
Have any other ‘pro tips’ for beating bloat and looking svelte? Comment below!