It’s Springtime and most of us have our eye on the Summer season of flimsy dresses and bikinis. Two seasons of heavy and stodgy foods have left many of us with less than the flattest of tummies. (It’s kind of laughable that I include myself in that group considering I am 8 months pregnant with triplets but a girl can dream, right?)
Even the thinnest of people can experience the dreaded “bloat”. Much of it is simple water retention but these simple bloat busters can help trim your waist quickly to feel better in your skin.
1. Still waters
run deep beat bloat. Drinking water may be the number one ticket to a flatter belly. Dehydration can exacerbate bloat as a lack of fluid in the system can cause a build-up of toxins and drinking enough fluids can flush the toxins, curb hunger, kickstart the digestive system and reduce fluid retention which will give the appearance of a flatter stomach. Make sure it is still water as carbonated water can create gas in the intestinal tract increasing bloat. Same goes for any fizzy drink. If water isn’t your thing, peppermint tea, fennel tea, and naturally fruit flavored water can do so much towards keeping you hydrated bloat free!
2. Carbs are the enemy of a flat tummy. I don’t mean fruits and vegetable carbs rather grain carbs.(though apples can feed candida due to the pectin content so if you have a candida issue , which we will be discussing shortly, they can increase bloat. Cruciferous vegetables, especially when not cooked properly, and legumes can contribute to bloat as well due to the anti nutrients. ) I know, everyone has told you that whole grains are necessary for “fiber” consumption but, if you have any kind of gluten intolerance (and most people have at least a wheat sensitivity), all those grains can trigger bloat in a big way as your body’s immune response will force fluid to the area to help flush the invading pathogen. The body also converts grain straight to glucose to be used as energy. All glucose that is not utilized is stored in the muscle as glycogen (and later stored as fat if that is not utilized). For every gram of glycogen your body needs three grams of water to be stored alongside. That leads to a lot of water for nothing. Unless you are working out six to seven hours a day, that plate of pasta will store a lot of bloat increasing water. Asparagus is a natural diuretic so consider our Warm Buffalo Mozzarella and Asparagus Salad for a belly busting, protein filled lunch or light dinner.
To prove my point about both #1 and #2 think about beer. Ever heard the term “beer belly”? A combination of a lot of gluten and carbonation and a few too many could make you look like a construction worker at a Chicago Bear’s game!
3. Salt is the bane of a flat tummy! Table salt, which has had many of the nutrients stripped out, can cause fluid imbalance leading to “puffiness” and sluggishness. The body has to work harder to “find” all the nutrients lost by processing of table salt to make it usable by the body and these imbalances can cause fluid retention. Couple that with the fact that most of the salt eaten is largely eaten on refined processed foods full of grains or other refined carbohydrates and that’s the one-two punch to a paunchy stomach.
4. Too much sugar in your diet goes hand in hand with pretty much the top three. Sugar breaks down to glucose which is stored as glycogen (and later, fat leading to cellulite, ladies) and glycogen storage requires water leading to bloat. Too much refined sugar, if the body is starved for the proper fuel, can actually feed bad bacteria as well, leading to a lot more bloat that is harder to combat. Swap out the refined sugar for fruit and realize that much of the sugar eaten is actually eaten with grain which can also contribute to bloat. (See #2) Pineapple contains bromelain, a powerful enzyme that can help flush toxins. If you do have a candida issue, eating probiotic yogurt is a great way to get your protein and feed the good bacteria in your system. Always choose full fat yogurt over low fat and sugar-free, adding in your own honey or stewed fruit or berries. (If you are lactose intolerant, dairy can actually lead to bloat so switching from cow’s milk to sheep’s milk yogurt is usually better tolerated.)
5. Don’t skimp on the high quality proteins and healthy fats. Grass-fed beef and lamb (slow braised with the bone in is a glycine rich bonus), offal such as patê and other liver (think foie gras), pastured eggs, free-range chicken, wild caught fish, and raw cheeses along with coconut oil, grass-fed ghee and butter, and olive oil all are digested beautifully (especially when grain side dishes are avoided) and lead to trimmer tummies. The bonus here is that you also tend to get “fuller” faster and encourage satiety so you avoid snacking later.
Avoid chewing gum as it can cause you to swallow air which will most definitely bloat out your tummy. Making exercise and other physical activity a part of your day helps the bubbles from digestion pass through the GI tract more quickly than if you are being a couch potato.
If you are on the pill, suffer from PMS, PCOS, or endometriosis or are otherwise estrogen dominant, please be aware that all of the steps to banish bloat will not only help you achieve a flatter tummy but will also help you tame your hormonal issues.
It may sound like a no brainer but remember to chew your food thoroughly before you swallow. Your stomach does not have teeth and the first part of digestion occurs in the mouth where food is mixed with salivary enzymes that digestive process. If you don’t chew properly you are asking your digestive system to work harder attracting more fluid which will definitely lead to a puffy tummy!
Do you suffer from bloat? What are some of your favorite remedies for flattening the tummy?