Have you been groaning about your belly bloating? It’s the same story every time: you start eating healthy again after a weekend of questionable food choices and BOOM! the bloat begins. Every Monday doesn’t have to start with unbuttoned pants. Here are a few tips to decrease your bloat and get your week moving along in the right direction.
1. Make it hot, and add some lemon:
Drinking hot water with lemon is an age-old remedy for alleviating belly bloat, and science certainly supports the claim. A cup of hot lemon water each morning aids the body in digestion and gets metabolism moving bright and early. When added to hot water, lemon acts as a natural diuretic and laxative by stimulating the digestive enzymes of the pancreas. Any time the body rids itself of waste (i.e. when using the bathroom), bloating is decreased. Not only does this simple drink boost metabolism, but it is also known to stop salty and sweet cravings throughout the day. And for those who want to switch it up, green and ginger tea have the same benefits and also add a little flavor. Make sure to sip slowly and use a straw to trap less air bubbles (a.k.a. bloat) in your tummy.
2. Spit out your gum:
Many people chew gum as a crutch to stop cravings and cure boredom. Yet, what most people don’t realize is that with every new unwrapped piece, bloating ensues. This is because when we chew gum all day, we swallow air and trap bloat-causing air bubbles in our stomachs. Gum also contains sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol, which are a known cause of belly bloat. When such sweeteners are ingested, the bacteria in the large intestine ferments, causing gas. Moreover, these substances cause the body to retain water. If you can’t give up gum, try an organic type of gum that uses stevia instead of aspartame to reduce your risk for retention.
3. Compress your belly with cilantro:
Although it’s taste can be rather controversial, cilantro can actually help alleviate bloat. This is because the leafy, green herb provides both fiber and a unique mixture of oils, like linalool and geranyl acetate, which work together to relax our digestive muscles. These oils also sooth an overactive gut and causes our stomachs to de-bloat. Even if cilantro leaves a bad taste in your mouth, come beach season, its anti-bloating properties sure won’t!
4. Slow down to bloat down:
An easy tip to a flatter midsection is to slow down the pace with which you eat your meals. When we rapidly shovel forkfulls of food into our mouths extra air is also ingested. That air has to go somewhere and the result is a bloated belly. By eating more slowly the amount of extra air swallowed is minimized and unwanted bloat is not experienced. To help slow you down, consider putting your fork down between bites--no meal should take less than twenty to thirty minutes to consume. Bonus: slowing down the time you take to eat will also give your brain time to register when it is full and thus can help prevent you from overeating.
5. + plus potassium - minus bloat:
Sodium and potassium are the two electrolytes responsible for maintaining the water balance in our bodies. Sodium holds onto water and potassium flushes excess water out (which helps to achieve a flatter, bloat-free belly.) The American diet provides an excess amount of sodium, which results in an excessive amount of water retention--AKA bloat. The good news is certain fruits and veggies, like bananas, papayas, spinach, potatoes, and avocados, are naturally high in potassium, so eating them can help bring our body water levels back to equilibrium. Be sure to get your potassium from real foods, as opposed to supplements, as potassium supplements have been linked to health risks like interfering with regular heart rhythm.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.