The following post was written by the registered dietitians of C & J Nutrition, Stephanie Clarke and Willow Jarosh. We turned to them for their expert advice to answer a FitSugar reader's question.
I am dealing with some serious bloating issues and it isn't pretty — especially since it's Summer and I plan to hang out in a bikini as much as possible. Can you tell me what foods cause bloating that I should be avoiding? Also, are there any foods out there that alleviate bloating? Thanks!
— Puffy Tummy
When dealing with bloating you need to approach the problems from a couple of different angles to find the source of the problems and figure out what is causing the bloating. A common cause we see with our clients is eating too much, too fast. The remedy for this is to slow down and be more conscious both before and during eating. Don't let yourself get famished between meals — because then you'll want to eat a ton of the first thing you see, quickly. Have a snack in between meals so that you're hungry but still able to make wise portion decisions and slow down at meals. In other words, try eating smaller amounts more often.
If your bloating is PMS-related, skip sodas/carbonated water/etc., as the same bubbles that give carbonated drinks their fizz can enter our digestive tract and cause bloating. Also go easy on salty foods/snacks — too much salt causes our bodies to hold onto water, leading to that puffy feeling of fluid retention. Finally, don't skimp on protein and your meals and snacks. Protein can actually help pull excess water out of your body (especially handy during water-retention prone PMS time).
Keep reading for a few more tips and foods to avoid.
- Skip sugar alcohols: Commonly used sugar alcohols sorbitol and mannitol, found in sugar-free candy, gum, drinks, etc. are tough to digest for some people and cause bloating and discomfort. Skip foods with these sugar alcohols, if you're sensitive to them.
- Choose naturally high fiber foods, and eat with a glass of water: Instead of opting for foods with fiber added, stick with foods naturally full of fiber (whole grains, beans, veggies, fruit, nuts/seeds). This way you get more reasonable doses of fiber steadily throughout the day, rather than giant doses all at one time. And definitely always drink water with high fiber foods, to promote the fiber moving smoothly through your system. Not only can this prevent a bloated feeling, but it can also promote regularity, which can make you feel even slimmer.
- Know your personal limits: For some people beans and/or cruciferous veggies (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts) can make them feel gassy/bloated. Experiment with eating smaller amounts of these foods in combination with other veggies to see if that beats some of the bloat. In addition, consider a product like Beano, which is a natural enzyme our bodies make that helps break down some of the gas producing products in beans/veggies and makes them easier to digest.
- Keep a food journal: Record what you eat and when you feel bloated. See if there is a correlation to specific foods and bloating as well as eating quickly, eating too much, etc. and bloating.
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