Some people can drink a gallon of soda and maintain a perfectly flat stomach. My digestive system, on the on the other hand, is extremely sensitive and almost anything I eat or drink can cause bloating.
If you’re among the 16 to 30% of the population that have trouble with bloating on a regular basis like me, you’re probably all too familiar with the symptoms and wish you didn’t have them, especially in the summer. It’s just not fun to squeeze into a teeny bikini with a gut that just won’t quit!
Here’s the good news. You don’t have to pass up fun in the sun just because you feel self-conscious in a bathing suit. Here are some simple tips to ease your bloating issues. Keep in mind, for best results, it’s more beneficial to start these healthy habits at least 24 hours before baring your belly.
THE DO’S & DON’TS TO AVOID BELLY BLOATING
AVOID CARBONATED DRINKS
Consuming bubbly beverages tends to make you bloat as they release carbon dioxide gas in your digestive tract.
AVOID ALCOHOL (ESPECIALLY CHAMPAGNE & BEER)
They all contain carbon dioxide, as well as fermentable carbohydrates, both of which are known to cause gas and bloating. So bubbly booze makes you especially bloated. People have different tolerances, but research has shown that binge drinking any alcohol causes most people to bloat. So be sure to keep a tab on how many cold ones you consume. Even moderate drinking which is considered one drink for women a day and two for men has been linked to bloating.
ADD PEPPERMINT OR CHAMOMILE TO ICED FLAT WATER OR GREEN TEA
Peppermint has been proven to help alleviate bloating and benefit people who have especially sensitive stomachs including irritable bowel syndrome sufferers. Chamomile tea, which has more relaxing qualities, is a great choice for sunbathers. It can also be great at combating bloating and gas, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Green tea is also a natural diuretic, energizer, and appetite suppressant. It’s an ideal beach beverage, and it’s especially good at keeping things moving in the digestive tract. Just be careful not to drink too much green tea, as it has been shown to induce bloating in large quantities.
AVOID EXCESSIVE AMOUNTS OF SALT/SODIUM
Ever notice you can feel more puffy when you have a lot of salty food? Too much salt causes your body to retain water, according to the National Institutes of Health. The Food And Drug Administration recommends that healthy adults consume no more than 2,300mg a day. That’s equivalent to one teaspoon of salt a day.
EAT MORE HIGH POTASSIUM FOODS
Try high potassium foods like avocado, papaya, mango, banana and cantaloupe. Potassium is a natural diuretic, so it helps flush out surplus sodium and fluid, helping to de-bloat your body. Potassium is one of the three most commonly used natural diuretics used to make water pills, which people also take to help rid their bodies of excess salt and water, according to the Mayo Clinic.
AVOID GASSY VEGETABLES AND FRUITS
While they’re incredibly healthy, the NIH recommends avoiding some produce including: broccoli, cabbage cauliflower, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, brussels sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, celery, apples, beans, pears, and peaches. Most foods that contain carbohydrates cause gas due to the process your body goes through breaking it down into energy. Each of naturally produces gas, triggering an expansion of your midsection.
DO TAKE YOUR TIME EATING AND CHEW YOUR FOOD WELL
Chewing food well and eating slowly can also be incredibly helpful; not only does it slow you down and increase the satiation factor on a beach day, it lightens the workload for your stomach.
AVOID DAIRY PRODUCTS (THIS SADLY INCLUDES ICE CREAM)
Lactase deficiency and lactose malabsorption may lead to lactose intolerance, which means our bodies can’t naturally break down the lactose in dairy products like ice cream, cheese, and milk-leaving us gassy and bloated. Studies have found about 70% of African Americans, 90% of Asian Americans, 53% of Mexican Americans, and 74% of Native Americans are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is also common in Native American, Arab, Jewish, Hispanic, Italian, and people of Greek descent.
ADD GOOD ALTERNATIVES TO GASSY FOODS
Carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, cantaloupe, grapes, berries, and unsweetened, preservative free dried fruits are not listed as likely to give you bloating, according to the NIH. When you’re out in the sun, it’s important to still be eating and fuel your body. If you keep portions small (a half cup to a cup at a time), these are the types of fruits and veggies that take up less space in your stomach. You’ll get a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, without all the belly distention.
AVOID EXCESS AMOUNTS OF SUGAR/CARBS
Your body has the ability to store about 500-700 grams of carbohydrate as glycogen, which you can think of as emergency energy kits your body stockpiles for fuel. Some glycogen is stored in your liver, but most is stowed in muscle, and for every gram your body stores, you also store 3 grams of water. When you eat more carbs and sugar, you retain more glycogen and fluid, which leads to more water weight and an overall bloated feeling, according to the NIH.
EAT SOME FRESH PINEAPPLE OR DRINK PINEAPPLE JUICE
Pineapple is a naturally sweet and delicious alternative to other sugars. It also contains bromelain, a digestive enzyme that can help with inflammation and is used as a supplement for poor digestion. The NIH notes that though there have been many studies focused on bromelain being good at combating inflammation and swelling, though there has been little done on the other uses of bromelain.
AVOID CHEWING GUM
Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in fruits like pears but is also added into things like chewing gum. Since sorbitol is absorbed more slowly into the small intestine, it can pass into your colon, which is when things get really gassy. Unfortunately, there’s no way to reduce the effects of this sugar alcohol other than to avoid it.
Other Everyday Habits That May Be Secretly Making You Bloated
So I also figured out that my food and beverage choices weren’t the only thing causing my abdominal bloating. Other habits can cause us to swallow more air without even realizing it, according to the NIH.
- SUCKING ON HARD CANDIES/MINTS
- DRINKING THROUGH A STRAW
- EATING TOO FAST
Sticking To These Anti-Bloating Tips
If you couldn’t help but indulge in some bloat-inducing foods or beverages, it’s understandable! Another trick is, breaking a sweat. Exercise can help move excess gas through your body and reduce bloating.
If you try these proven methods and they don’t reduce your bloating, it’s important to pay close attention to what’s going on with your body. In most situations, occasional gas and abdominal discomfort does not require medical attention. However, it’s important to be aware of more serious disorders that may cause bloating. If you experience bloating along with abdominal pain, blood in the stools or dark, tarry looking stools, diarrhea, heartburn that is getting worse, vomiting, and/or weight loss, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a doctor or other healthcare professional.