Bloating and tummy distention are often pleas from your gut for a bit of tender loving care. While diet and a hectic social life are common culprits and often the cause of bloating, you don’t have to ditch the food and lifestyle you love to achieve a slimmer, less bloated silhouette.
To effectively beat the bloat, you could try the following:
1. Swap white for wholegrain
After a big bowl of white pasta or rice, bloating may seem inevitable, but you really don’t have to give up the carbs – just make some smart swaps! Oats are a great source of resistant starch, a type of soluble fibre that’s digested slowly and so less likely to cause bloating. Uncooked oats give maximum benefit, so why not make your own Bircher muesli? Grate half an apple over 45g of raw porridge oats, soak in semi-skimmed milk and pop in the fridge overnight. In the morning, just top with seeds and berries for extra sweetness. Or sub spelt sourdough bread for your usual supermarket loaf. Spelt is an ancient form of wheat that’s lower in gluten, and the sourdough making process makes it even more digestible.
2. Try magnesium-rich foods
Sometimes, bloating is actually water retention. A study by the University of Reading found that women who took 200mg magnesium each day had less premenstrual fluid retention by the end of their second cycle. Magnesium is a nutrient that’s easy to get from food such as unsalted nuts, live yoghurt, and kale, and it’s a good idea to use brown rice in your grain bowl. If you find all that a bit too wholesome, try kale chips. Tear kale leaves into bite-size pieces, spray with olive oil and sprinkle with chilli flakes. Bake at 180°C for 8-10 minutes.
3. Eat little and often
More women come to my clinic complaining about bloating than ever before, but they are often surprised when I tell them that the way they eat is contributing, not just their diet. We live our lives at a hectic pace and that takes its toll on the gut. If you’re skipping lunch because you’re too busy to eat, you’re likely to overeat at dinner. That puts pressure on your digestive system, causing bloating, wind and even diarrhoea. Evade bloating by eating small meals across the day and avoid overloading your gut. Sustained energy levels are a little added bonus!
4. Keep well hydrated
It might seem counterintuitive but drinking plenty of water can help reduce the chance of water retention and subsequent stomach discomfort. If you don’t drink enough, your body will hold onto fluid as it thinks there’s a shortage. Keeping hydrated supports your kidneys, so they are better able to regulate your body’s fluid levels. Liven up your water bottle with slices of cucumber or lemon or buy a cold tea infuser and experiment with a few new herbal teas. Liquorice and fennel are great choices for their relaxing qualities.
5. Just slow down
If you’re always in a hurry, you’re more than likely to be wolfing down your meal, along with big gulps of air, straight down into your stomach. Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, so give yourself time to actually enjoy it! Try putting some music on in the kitchen or head to the office canteen at lunch, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, and give yourself a proper break. Mindful eating means you’re also likely eat less, another way to keep stomach distention under control.
6. Get rid of the gas
The bacteria that live in your gut ferment vegetable fibre as part of the digestive process. A high fibre diet rich in veggies is completely healthy but, yes, increased gas is often a side effect. This can cause uncomfortable or even painful bloating for people with a sensitive stomach. Alongside a few diet and lifestyle alterations, a daily dose of Enterosgel will bind to harmful and toxic molecules in the gut, including those associated with producing gases which could be responsible for bloating, gently removing them with your normal stool.