Beat the Bloat

beat-belly-bloatI’ve been suffering from a finicky stomach for years. I know as well as anyone that a puffy, bloated belly feels terribly uncomfortable, and looks less than attractive. I’ve done a lot of research on this over the years, and wanted to share with you what I’ve learned. Here are some common bloat-causing culprits, and ways you can remedy them without medication.

Reason #1: Gluten/Lactose/Fructose Intolerance
Celiac disease, lactose intolerance, and fructose intolerance are common diagnoses these days. If you are diagnosed with any of these conditions, you are allergic to and/or cannot process ingredients in certain foods. While there is no cure for these issues, the treatment is simple: eliminate the irritating ingredient(s) from your diet. If you suspect you have an intolerance, see your doctor. S/he can assess your condition and put you on a special diet. (Celiac suffers must forgo wheat; lactose and fructose intolerants should eliminate dairy and sugar, respectively.) Making these changes can yield huge results; you’ll be amazed at how your stomach flattens and eases up. And with the conditions being so common, many foods are widely available that can accommodate your new diet.

Reason #2: Sensitivity to Certain Foods
Even if you don’t have celiac disease or an intolerance, certain foods can trigger a gassy response in our intestines because they’re harder to digest. These foods include: beans and legumes; veggies like broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, cauliflower and cabbage; dairy and milk products; sugar alcohols (found in diet sodas and sugar-free candies); and more. If you avoid these foods, you may have less gas and a more comfortable, flatter tummy.

Reason #3: Too Much Salt.
Salt makes you retain water, so when you eat it in large amounts, you blow up. Salt is a sneaky thing; it doesn’t just mean that if you don’t salt your food, you’re not eating it. It’s overflowing in processed foods, prepared meals in the freezer section, and canned foods. Chances are, you’re overdosing on salt when you go out to eat; restaurants always load dishes with salt to bring out the flavor (which is usually why you find yourself bloated after a meal out). Nix the salt for a few days, cut back on processed foods, drink a lot of water, and your stomach will de-bloat in a few days.

Keep reading for more reasons why your stomach is puffing up.

Reason #4: You’re Full of Air (aka Gas).
Nothing causes you to bloat faster than a bad case of gas. If you ate a higher-than-average amount of fiber, consumed certain foods (like specific veggies or legumes), or even ate a meal too fast (which causes you to swallow excess air), chances are, you’ll be left with some gas. The best remedy for this is exercise. Working out helps your GI tract get moving, which will help you pass gas faster. Another way to ease the pain is a hot bath. The heat from the water helps soothe the GI tract so you can rid yourself of gas faster.

Reason #5: You Had a Few Too Many Drinks.
No surprise here: alcohol causes dehydration, which ultimately leads to water retention, as your body clings to what water it has. The best remedy for this is (again) hydrating. Drink a lot of water to flush the toxins and extra fluids out of your system.

Reason #6: You’re on Medication.
Many medications–both prescription and over-the-counter–can trigger your body to retain water. Birth control pills, ibuprofen, and steroids are three common meds that cause you to swell. If you feel puffy, or if you notice that your rings or shoes are tight (meaning your fingers or feet have swollen), try flushing out your system by drinking a lot of water. This can be a helpful short-term remedy, but the problem most likely will persist as long as you’re on the medication. Talk to your doctor about ways to combat the bloaty feeling, or maybe discuss alternative medications.

Reason #7: You Haven’t Gone to the Bathroom.
When you’re constipated, your belly gets distended. If you find this is a common problem you have, try taking a daily fiber supplement to regulate your system and feel lighter overall.

I’m not a doctor, nor do I claim to be. The information here is provided solely as suggestions, not as medical advice. If you experience severe abdominal pain, you should call your doctor or go to the emergency room ASAP.

Image via FitSugar

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2 Responses to Beat the Bloat

  1. Katherine says:

    Forever struggling with this…adding these to my list to try to solve this problem.

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