Summer is around the corner and it’s beach and midriffseason. You may have been eating healthy and working out, however, when life gets busy with summer funtivites, it can be easy to fall off track.
Bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort aren’t limited to the post -Thanksgiving- itis. In fact, one in 10 Americans say they experience bloating regularly, even when they haven’t indulged in a large meal. Bloating and gas are usually tied to what and how we eat, so a few simple swaps can easily beat the bloat. (If you experience chronic bloating and abdominal pain, you should see your MD immediately.)
Here are some practical swaps to ensure a flat belly for the summer:
Carbonated Drinks are a very common cause for bloating due to its high amounts of carbon dioxide, which is a gas. When you drink sodas and seltzer water, you end up swallowing large amounts of gas (air bubbles). This gas becoming trapped in the digestive system is what causes the unpleasant bloating.
Skip the sugary sodas or the seltzer and opt for fresh smoothies or plain water. Herbal teas are also a great alternative. If you need some zest, add lemon and berries to your water to give it some natural flavor. (Also it will aid in detoxifying and could help you get rid of the existing belly bloat)
There is a lot of controversy about wheat and gluten (the protein found in wheat.) It’s an ingredient that’s in bread, pastas, bake goods, and many packaged foods. It can cause major digestive issues like gas bloating, gas, and diarrhea for many people (esp people with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity.) In addition, gluten has known to cause brain fog and lethargy as well. All in all, wheat is considered to be an inflammatory and should be consumed sparingly.
Try using gluten-free alternatives like oats, rice, buckwheat, almond flour, coconut flour, quinoa, and tapioca flour. Many grocery stores now sell gluten-free flour, so grab a friend and enjoy making your favorite recipes together! Be aware of packed products that are labeled “gluten-free”, as they are often loaded with sugar and processed junk.
If you feel gassy after a few slices of cheese or your favorite dessert, you may be lactose intolerant or sensitive to lactose. When your body does not have enough of the necessary enzymes to break down lactose, it can cause gas to form in the GI tract - which triggers bloating. Not only does diary cause inflammation in the body which can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms, it is also loaded with sugar which causes bloating as well.
To avoid the gas and bloating, steer clear of the dairy items and opt for almond, rice, coconut, organic soy, or cashew milk. There are also non-dairy cheeses that are delicious; My personal favorite is Daiya.
Diet Drinks and Products
Sugar alcohols are used to replace the sugar in “sugar-free” foods and gums. They have been known to be the culprit of a range of digestive issues, including: Bloating, gas, and diarrhea. The artificial “sugar” does not metabolize in our bodies because it does not recognize it as real food. Therefore, is stays in our large intestine and our gut bacteria feeds on it. This is what causes our stomach to expand.
Steer clear of the diet drinks, they are by no means helping you lose weight. In fact, a recent study showed that people who drank diet coke actually weighed more than people who drank regular coke. Opt for drinks that have honey, maple syrup, or stevia as a sweetener. Of course the best option is always to make your own beverage using natural sweeteners or to opt for water or herbal teas.
The term “beer belly” is something everyone has probably heard of. It refers to both belly fat and bloating caused by drinking beer since it is carbonated and mostly fermented from gluten products like barley and wheat. It also contains gas and fermented carbs, which both leads to bloating.
Red or white wine are better options as well as hard alcohol on the rocks with lime. And of course water with lemon/lime is really the best option.
Frozen dinners and processed food
Frozen dinner, canned soups, and processed foods are very high in sodium, which causes water retention, leading to unpleasant bloating. Often labeled as low fat and low calorie options, salad dressing, condiments, and sauces are usually loaded with sodium.
To ward off the bloating, look for items that have around 750-800 milligrams of sodium per serving. Better yet, make your own healthy, delicious soups and meals. Use oil, lemon, or balsamic vinegar as dressing.
Bloating is usually just a temporary symptom that can be warded off by modifying diet and portion sizes. However, sometimes feeling bloated consistently can be a sign of a serious health condition.
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder that affects the large intestine, includes abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. If you have experienced these symptoms for at least 12 weeks out of the past 12 months (not necessarily consecutively), you may have IBS or other digestive conditions. Check in with your MD and let him/her know about all your symptoms.
Smoking is also linked to bloating, heartburn, and other digestive issues. This may be one more reason to quit!
Remember, your body is a temple and this life is a gift and privilege. Treat it with respect, lots of nutritious dense foods, and sensible portions.