Workouts & Nutrition

Beat the Bloat

. Diet, Digestion, Nutrition

Jeans weather is almost here. If you find your waistline expanding like an inflatable pool toy it may be time to assess your diet. Certain foods and drinks can make you feel like you have more gas than a helium balloon. Here is my guide to a more comfortable, deflated tummy.

Bloating is an ugly feeling. Not only can it destroy an outfit, but it’s also associated with cramping, burping, diarrhoea and gigantic amounts of gas. It usually happens when liquid, gas or solids distend the organs of your digestive system. It may also occur when food is moving too slowly through your system or if there’s a problem with your stomach wall or diaphragm.

There are a few obvious culprits that you want to avoid. Chewing gum has the double effect of alcohol sugars which result in gas and the chewing motion which results in you taking in air that leads to bloating. Try sucking on a mint that doesn’t contain artificial flavours instead. It will feel like a breath of fresh air.

Salt is another gut-wrenching offender. Avoid highly processed salty snacks and bottled sauces that are high in sodium. Asian stir fries and noodles are notoriously high in salt. Also, avoid cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower as they contain the rascal raffinose. This is a carbohydrate which is responsible for gas production in the gut.

Focus on foods that are high in fibre. You should aim for at least 30 grams per day. Eat plenty of wholegrains, seeds, nuts and fruits and vegetables. Reduce your intake of fat and alcohol and drink plenty of water. Sparkling water can be beneficial as the gas can relieve abdominal discomfort. Eat smaller amounts and space your eating through the day.

Foods that contain natural probiotics will benefit your gut and keep it looking flat. Fermented foods like kefir, kombucha and kimchi are excellent. Yoghurt has good bacteria that will assist with reducing gas and bloating and will protect your gut in the long-term. Always, eat your food slowly to avoid abdominal distension and eat with your mouth closed to avoid taking in air as you chew.

Eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content and less sugar will assist you with the elimination of food and waste from the body. Melons such as watermelon are fantastic as are strawberries and blueberries. Celery, cucumber and radish are nutritious vegetables that will reduce your tummy bloat too. Be careful with juices as they remove fibre and give you a massive hit of sugar.

Herbal teas are soothing and have diuretic properties which assist your tummy. Dandelion stimulates the digestive system and peppermint; green and liquorice tea will also keep your stomach flat. Foods high in potassium are natural diuretics. Incorporate bananas, dark leafy greens, avocados and asparagus which counteract sodium.

One of the best things you can do to beat the bloat is to get moving. It can feel tempting to sloth on the couch when you’ve eaten the wrong foods or indulged in a large meal. A short walk around the block will aid your digestion and start to deflate your stomach. If you’re really in pain, you may need to put your feet up and apply a heat pad.

Regular bloating can be attributed to medical issues such as coeliac disease, irritable bowel syndrome or a lactose or FODMAP intolerance. It can also be caused by hormones, weight gain, stress or medicines. It’s worth seeing an Accredited Practising Dietitian or your GP if you suspect something sinister.

Sit ups and planks aren’t going to stop that Homer Simpson look if you eat the wrong foods. Listen to your gut feeling next time you reach for salty snacks or gum. It will be worth the effort, so you don’t have to rock the bloat.

From @zap_fit