A bloated stomach is something that you can avoid pretty easily, so long as that bloat doesn’t come from extra pounds or is the result of a medical condition (liver or heart disease for example). The way to do it – avoid accumulating gas in your abdomen or intestines, as this will bring the uncomfortable feeling and the awful looking bulge.
It’s actually a well-entrenched myth that bloating in the stomach is the result of fluid accumulation, so called water weight. This isn’t true at all. In fact, the abdomen isn’t the place fluids will accumulate first in a healthy individual – they would be noticed in the feet and ankles for anyone up and about.
So if it’s not water, what is causing the gas to build in your belly and impact how you look and feel? Here are ten likely suggestions that might just explain that bloated belly.
1. Constipation: too little fiber, fluids and activity can bring on constipation and this causes bloating. Eat a diet high in fiber (25 daily grams for women; 38 for men) from whole grains, fruits and veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds. You’ll also want to be sure you’re taking in enough fluids – aim for 6-8 glasses a day. Be active for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
2. Food allergies/intolerance: can cause both gas and bloating and can be confirmed by a visit to your doctor. Resist the temptation to self-diagnose and then eliminate healthy dairy and whole grains from your diet when this isn’t necessary. You can reduce the amount of the suspect food, or eat it with other foods, or try aged cheeses and yogurts as they are lower in lactose to see how your body responds.
3. Eating too fast: it’s what Mom always warned you about… eat too quickly and you swallow air and this brings bloating. You need to slow down, chew well and enjoy your meals. A meal should last at least a half hour, and remember digestion starts in the mouth. So, try to cut that bloating by chewing your food better… just like Mom told you.
4. Limit carbonated drinks: as the fizz in those tasty sodas and other drinks can cause gas to get trapped in your stomach. Instead try water flavored with lemon, lime or cucumber. If you must have those carbonated drinks, at least cut the number you have a day and try other beverages – peppermint tea for a soothing, healthy change.
5. Don’t chew too much gum: as this can have you swallowing air, which leads to bloating. If you have a hard-core gum habit, alternate a piece of gum with sucking on a mint or hard candy instead. A healthy, high-fiber snack is also a good choice.
6. Watch sugar free foods: as these can cause you to take in too much sugar alcohol in those artificially sweetened foods and drinks, this can lead to bloating. You want to limit your consumption of artificially sweetened foods/drinks to no more than 2 to 3 servings a day.
7. Limit sodium: highly processed foods are high in sodium and low in fiber, both of which can contribute to feeling (and looking) bloated. You need to start reading food labels and shoot for no more than 500 mg of sodium per serving in any processed, canned or frozen food. You want to keep your total sodium intake to 2,300 mg a day.
8. Go slow with gas producing foods: there are some foods, like beans and members of the cruciferous family of veggies, that if you’re not used to eating can cause that bloated, gassy discomfort. Work these good for you foods into your diet slowly, or try to take an anti-gas product as directed when you plan on eating them.
9. Eat smaller meals, less often: this alternative meal schedule can help you stay free of the bloated feeling that comes after a large meal. Eating more often can also help keep your blood sugar stable and manage your hunger. Just be sure that the quantity of food and calories are in line with what you need, and don’t make more meals, bigger meals.
10. Try anti-bloating foods/drinks: as a few studies suggest that peppermint tea, ginger, pineapple, parsley and yogurts that have probiotics (good bacteria) might help bring down the bloating.
Understand that spot exercises will help your belly appear flatter, but that’s because you are toning and strengthening the abdominal muscles, not because doing a specific ab exercise has worked wonders. Pilates and exercise ball workouts are some of the best ab workouts we know.
Experts agree that laxatives, water pills and fasting are not the way to get rid of a bloated stomach, or lose weight. Losing even a few pounds will help your belly look (and feel) trimmer, that’s because for almost anyone who is losing body fat usually does so from the belly area more than other parts of the body. This holds true for every body type and weight loss type.