Avoiding The Bloat

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I have a party tonight and don't want to appear bloated! Which foods should I eat and which should I avoid to keep my belly flat?

Foods to Avoid:

Salty, highly-processed foods:Sodium causes the body to retain water, which in essence causes bloating - making you feel as big as a balloon. Avoid foods like hot dogs, which are high in both fat and sodium. Also, avoid the fast-food counter where options are usually extremely high in sodium. Avoiding any kind of salty snacks, such as pretzels and potato chips, is essential to maintaining your bikini body.

Gassy foods:Certain foods create more gas in your GI tract than others. This includes raw vegetables and legumes such as cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, onions and cabbage. However, many times if you cook these vegetables, they will deliver the same nutrients, but take up less room in your system leaving you feeling skinnier and ready to dress in your mini bikini.

Chewing gum:Many people don't realize this, but chewing gum can cause bloating because it causes you to swallow air. All that air gets trapped in your GI tract causing pressure, bloating and belly expansion.

Sugar-free candies: Sugar free candies and gum often contain sorbitol. Sorbitol is a sugar substitute that acts as a laxative, which draws water into the large intestine. As little as four sticks of sorbitol-containing gum can cause bloating and abdominal pain.

Foods to Have:

• Fiber: For a flat belly, try increasing your fiber intake. A healthy adult wants to aim for 25-30 grams of fiber per day. Not only will fiber help you feel full for longer, but it will also increase bowel motility helping to remove waste and avoid any bloating. The best part of fiber is that because it is the non-digestible component of plant-based foods, it will make you feel full without adding calories! Consider eating high-fiber foods such as whole-wheat breads, high-fiber cereals, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Water:Not drinking enough water can cause dehydration and bloating, which is why it's so important to drink enough water. In the summer months, it's easy and essential to increase fluids, by adding flavored, sugar-free drink flavor packets to water bottles or fresh lemons and limes to plain water. In addition, water keeps you feeling full so you don't confuse your hunger with thirst. Aim to drink eight 8-oz glasses of water a day, or keep a water bottle with you to help you reach your water goal!

High-potassium foods: Eating potassium-rich foods will also help combat bloating during bikini season. Potassium counterbalances sodium - which causes water retention and bloating - and has a diuretic effect on the body. So by eating foods that are high in potassium, you can reduce bloating naturally. Foods high in potassium include bananas, papayas, kiwis, strawberries, spinach, cooked beets and broccoli.

Increase your vitamin B6 consumption:Vitamin B6 acts as a natural diuretic, which helps to prevent bloating. It's important never to consume more than 100 mg per day. Foods rich in vitamin B6 include yellow fin tuna, roasted chicken breast and avocado.

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and founder of

. She is also the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto