Belly Bloat: What You Should and Shouldn’t Eat and Drink
Every year as swimsuit season approaches, one of the most common questions we’re asked as personal trainers and fitness nutritionist is what can be done to avoid feeling and looking bloated. Everyone wants to know which foods to eat to flush out the excess fluid in the abdomen that makes us feel like leaving the t-shirt or cover-up on rather than freely sporting the bathing suit. And while there are a few key bloat-reducing foods worth sharing, it’s equally as important to remember that some foods can have the opposite effect. Here are four foods that can help you to look and feel light and svelte, and four foods to watch out for that can make you feel water-logged and get you into “bloat” trouble.
4 Foods to Avoid
1. Watch your coffee. You may grab yours before heading out for a day at the beach, but beware. Certain dairy items, even coffee creamer, can bloat the stomach, particularly in those who are lactose intolerant. And soy milk, which many people add to lighten their coffee, causes bloat for some, so take note and see how you react on days when you aren’t heading to the beach.
2. Nix carbonated drinks. All of those bubbles create gas in your stomach, which causes bloat. Our clients have confessed to us that they used to skip meals and fill up on a diet soda—thinking it would fill their stomachs and make them look lean. Instead, it actually left them ravenous later in the day and bloated at the beach. Instead of carbonated drinks, choose a beverage that actually helps to beat the bloat (see some choices below).
3. Avoid snacks that feel light and airy. Although you may be drawn toward snacks that feel light like chips, salt is a top enemy when it comes to bloat. When you consume too much salt, your body holds on to water to dilute it. This creates extra water in your tissues that feels heavy and makes you look puffy.
4. Give sweet frozen temptations the cold shoulder. Sugary flavor ices can be tempting for cooling off, but it’s easy to have a few ice pops and swallow a lot of sugar. The body responds to sugar much like it does to salt by holding on to water to dilute the concentration. Again, this will make you feel water-logged.
5 Bloat-Reducing Foods
1. Water—with a twist of lemon
Beach days are the perfect time to opt for water. Although it seems counterintuitive to drink water when you’re worried about feeling bloated, retaining water is actually your body’s way of holding on to fluid to prevent dehydration. Drinking water will allow your body to let go of any extra fluid it might be retaining. Flavor it with a twist of lemon, which is a natural diuretic. You’ll get the benefits of hydration without excess calories or sodium. Plus, lemon provides a boost of potassium, which helps to counteract sodium. Potassium helps to restore normal fluid balance so you’ll rinse out any excess fluid that your body may be storing.
Hold a cup of watermelon and a cup of potato chips in your hands. Watermelon feels heavy, but that’s just because it’s made up of 92 percent water, so it will help your body to release any water it’s retaining. Plus, watermelon is a great source of potassium to balance out any salt your body may be storing that’s causing bloat. You can even add some watermelon to your lemon water. The best time to indulge in the watermelon is post workout with the addition of your protein shake.
First, blueberries are packed with fiber. Often when you’re bloated, it’s because you’re constipated. Consume some fluid along with fiber and push out the waste from your colon. Blueberries are a great source of fiber, fluid and potassium (to counteract any possible bloat you may be experiencing from salt). Blueberries also contain the phytochemical C3G, which research shows may help in weight loss by enhancing the production of both adiponectin, which enhances fat metabolism, and leptin, which suppresses appetite.
Try adding blueberries to your morning smoothie or Greek Yogurt. For weight loss the best timing to consume fruit is first thing in the morning or after your workout.
4. Iced Green Tea With Mint and Lemon
Tea is hydrating and will help flush any excess sodium that’s contributing to bloat. Mint aids digestion and will ease stomach discomfort that contributes to belly expansion. Furthermore, both mint and lemon contain potassium, which helps to restore normal fluid balance and flush out bloat. Make your iced tea at home, keep it in a large water bottle, and sip away on the sand. An added bonus? The tea contains the amino acid theanine, which brings on a potent combination of mental calmness and alertness that helps to thwart stress and the stomach upset and distention that comes with it. Plus, feeling calm and alert will help you to be in your groove and to feel confident on the beach.
5. Dandelion Root Tea
Many people use dandelion root to detoxify, relieve constipation, soothe an upset stomach, and help shed water weight, among many other health remedies. In fact, tea made from the dandelion’s root or leaves has been used in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine for centuries; now, even Dr. Oz has jumped on board, recommending dandelion tea as part of his 48-hour cleanse to help your liver release toxins while you sleep. Find a reputable brand (try Yogi Detox or Traditional Medicial’s Roasted Dandelion Root) and get a great detox as well as eliminate your bloat.