Feeling the bloat? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back – and your front! You can beat the bloated belly blues by following this simple plan and you’ll be rocking that frock (plus skinny jeans and swimsuit) in no time at all.
1. Keep your mouth shut (said with love!)
Chewing gum with your mouth open, talking while you eat, eating too fast and drinking through a straw all lead to swallowing air, which can cause uncomfortable gas and bloating. Yep, really!
2. Fennel seeds; get some. See also, pineapple and parsley!
Munching on a small handful of aromatic fennel seeds can help relieve uncomfortable gassy situations. Ditto a few chunks of fresh pineapple or sprigs of parsley. Bonus round: parsley helps reduce water retention.
3. Curb the carbs
Lots of folk often find consuming refined carbohydrates like white pasta, bread, rice or even cereal can leave them with a painful, distended tummy. To be on the safe side, avoid these leading up to a big night out. In the meantime, switch to wholegrains, watch your portion sizes and always include protein alongside carbs to help reduce the potential for bloat.
4. Pass the potassium please
Foods that are rich in this electrolyte act as a diuretic, helping to flush excess fluid out of your system. Get your fill from ripe bananas, pistachios, prunes, live probiotic yoghurt, rockmelon, mango, tomato and baked sweet potato.
5. Be salt savvy
Excess sodium is a known belly offender. Steer clear of the usual suspects: highly processed meals, canned soups, fast food, chips and cured meats. Oh, and hide the salt shaker.
6. Work it out
Regular exercise is the best way to rid yourself of bloat in the long-term. Gentle side-to-side stretching can help, uh, evacuate excess gas. Or try this: lie on your back, pull your knees to your chest and hold for 30 seconds. A belly massage (for yourself or from a pro) can help shift things, too.
7. Sugar-free? Not so fast
Foods advertised as sugar-free or reduced sugar are usually sweetened with sugar alcohols (check labels for maltitol, sorbitol and mannitol) that can cause bloating, as they’re tough to digest. If your digestion is at all sensitive, choose the real deal or none at all. (And keep an eye out for these ingredients sneaking into dressings and condiments.)
8. Beware the common garden-variety culprit
Don’t go chowing down on vegies like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage or onion when you’re gearing up to go out. Think twice, too, about beans (black, kidney, pinto) and lentils. Don’t get us wrong, these foods are great for you, but their high fibre content ramps up their ‘gas-ability’, especially if you don’t eat them regularly.
9. Chew like a champ
Before you swallow your food, make sure it’s mushy in your mouth. We’re talking apple sauce mushy here. It’s easier to digest this way and less likely to cause blah belly syndrome.
10. Drink this, not that
Fizzy beverages, such as soft drinks, diet drinks and beer, can cause gas to become trapped in your belly, so give them a miss. To ease an already bloated tummy, sip on peppermint or ginger tea daily. And instead of coffee, kick off the morning with a glass of hot water and freshly squeezed lemon.
Listen to your body and see your GP if you suffer from persistent gas and bloating. This may be a sign you have an underlying health condition such as a gastrointestinal infection, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lactose or gluten intolerance or coeliac disease.
Opt for one of the recipes below when you're feeling the bloat.