Feeling like an inflated balloon is no fun at all. Whether you are trying to lose weight or enjoying the status quo, it can be discouraging and a little bit frightening to experience bloating. Have you really gained all that weight? Might this be the last time you ever fit into those skinny jeans? The answer, in both cases, is a resounding 'no!'
“Bloating and actual fat gain feel the same, so it’s easy to confuse the two,” says Abby Langer, R.D. “But they really aren’t—fat is different from gas and water, which are what often contributes to bloating, and fat comes onto your body much more slowly.”
So, if you feel like this has all come on overnight, or during the course of a few days, it is likely bloating and not actual weight gain. The fact that it is bloating is wonderful news. Now that you know what it is, you can find effective strategies for overcoming it! Try these clever methods for beating your bloat ASAP!
1. Replace all your beverages with water
Your body will hold on to water to prevent dehydration. If you are drinking water regularly, your body then has permission to release some of the fluid it is holding. “Make sure you consume water consistently throughout the day,” says Langer, who recommends drinking around 1.5 liters per day. Water is not only the best beverage when it comes to staying hydrated, it can prevent bloating. The bubbles that appear in sodas or sparkling waters deliver gas bubbles straight to your stomach, which can cause you to fill up. If you have a difficult time digesting dairy, including dairy based drinks -- like lattes, could spell disaster for a flat, gas-free, belly. (Keep track of your water consumption with this durable, portable, BPA-free, water bottle
2. Avoid sugar alcohols
Sugar alcohols are technically natural sweeteners and they have the ability to make you a little puffy. “These sweeteners—xylitol, mannitol, and sorbitol to name a few—are used in everything from gum to energy bars,” says Langer. “They play serious games with your gastrointestinal tract and can lead to gas, cramping, bloating, and even diarrhea if you eat too much of them.” In other words, it is hard for your body to break down these sugars during digestion. They are also present in a number of processed foods which just compounds the bloating problem.
3. Pay attention to your fiber intake
Fiber is a very important part of a healthy diet. It not only helps your digestive system work properly, it can help satisfy your hunger for long periods of time. The trouble with fiber comes when you go from eating very little of it to eating too much. This often happens when people attempt a complete, healthy overhaul of their diet. “Overdoing the fiber when you’re not used to it can make you really bloated,” says Langer. Too much fiber can be hard for your body to digest and creates gas. Langer suggests aiming for 20-25 grams of fiber a day and drinking lots of water with it to help your body digest it more easily. If you'd like to do your diet overhaul in a balanced way, check out the BodyRock Meal Plan. This 30-day plan gives you the tools you need to build healthy eating habits for life. We provide you with weekly grocery lists so all you have to do is shop and follow along. No muss, not fuss. With the plan you'll also get a detailed nutrition guide and an added recipe book with over 70 offerings! Kiss packaged foods goodbye and take your health to the next level. Find the meal plan here
4. Choose your fruits and vegetables carefully
It is true that anything you can find in the produce aisle is going to be better for you than anything already in a package but there are still some fruits and veggies that can blow you up. Despite their incredible nutritional value, cherries, peaches, grapes, and mangoes can make you puffy. “These fruits are healthy, but they naturally have a lot of sugar or sugar alcohols,” says Langer. If you are trying to reduce your bloat, stock up on blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, and oranges. These fruits contain less sugar and lots of bloat blasting water. When it comes to vegetables, be aware of cruciferous ones like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower. These veggies contain raffinose, the same substance that produces gas when you eat beans. If you'd like to avoid gas bubbles making you feel like the Michelin man, reach for vegetables that are high in water like cucumber and zucchini.
5. Lay off carbohydrates
Despite what you may have heard, carbs are not your enemy. Your body needs carbs for fuel. But in order to produce glycogen, a form of energy stored in your muscles and liver, carbohydrate molecules bind with water. They more carbs you eat, the more water you hold and the more bloated you will feel. “This is still a bad reason to completely remove carbs from your diet,” says Langer. “But if you want to de-bloat, you can cut down on carbohydrates for a day or so and make the basis of your diet greens and lean proteins.”
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6. Keep quiet while eating
Sometimes bloating isn't due to what you are eating but how you are eating. “When you talk while you eat or eat too fast, you’re getting a lot of air in your digestive tract along with your food,” says Langer. Instead of chatting while you eat, make a conscious effort to eat more slowly. Chewing your food more frequently can also make it easier to digest and lead to less bloating. Obviously we aren't advocating being anti-social, just make sure you limit your talking to the time between bites.
7. Banish salty foods
“When you eat sodium, your body retains water to try to maintain the proper balance in your bloodstream,” says Langer. Try to keep yourself below 2,500 milligrams a day and make sure you are drinking lots of water.
8. Watch your portion sizes
For many, the winter is time for hibernating and eating comforting foods. Overdoing it on your portions can happen but it may be one of the reasons you feel so heavy and sluggish. “The more food you have in your stomach, the more bloated you’re going to feel!” says Langer. A treat now and then isn't a bad thing, just try to keep the amount you are eating under control. Eat your balanced, whole meals before you reach for something more sinful.
How do you tame your belly bloat?