Banishing Uncomfortable Belly Bloat

By: KELLY SHERIDAN

Swimsuit season has arrived once again. After months of chilly weather, it is finally time to break out the itsy-bitsy bikinis and hit the beach for some sunshine. While most people are excited about this, some may be a bit apprehensive about donning a bathing suit after months of wearing jeans and sweatshirts. There is no denying that belly bloat can cause beachgoers to think twice about wearing a bathing suit, no matter how cute it is. However, summer is only a few months long, and none of that time should be spent fussing over feeling uncomfortable in a swimsuit.

Bloating is an uncomfortable, awkward feeling that is commonly caused by water retention or intestinal gas. Multiple factors can be attributed to the onset of stomach bloating. Some of these include consuming too little fiber or too few fluids. Overdoing consumption of carbonated beverages, chewing gum, sodium-rich processed foods, or sugar-free snacks can also lead to belly bloat. While avoiding certain foods can decrease the look and feel of belly bloat, there are certain behaviors that will also minimize discomfort. Instead of eating three large meals per day, switch to eating 5-6 small, protein-rich meals throughout the day. Engaging in physical activity can decrease bloat, as can eating at a slower pace.

Fortunately, there are also certain foods that will banish belly bloat and leave bikini-wearers looking and feeling great.  Below is a list of these healthy, bloat-decreasing foods to take on the next grocery store trip:

Yogurt: The probiotics in yogurt are beneficial bacteria that can relieve imbalance in the digestive tract, and can help to successfully reduce bloat.

Bananas: Potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, can balance sodium levels within the body and help to reduce water retention. As an added bonus, these foods can also assist in reducing blood pressure.

Water-rich Fruits: Berries such as strawberries and blueberries are high in fiber and can help regulate one’s system. Grapefruit is also high in water content, as well as in fat-burning enzymes.

Most Vegetables: Veggies such as cucumbers are natural diuretics due to their high water content, and can flush toxins out of the body. Green-leafed vegetables such as lettuce and spinach are rich in fiber and vitamins. They also require a great deal of chewing, which will slow the process of eating.

Peppermint: This herb reduces gas, and can be consumed in the form of tea, as well as chamomile. Both herbs soothe the digestive tract, which can decrease bloating. Parsley, another natural diuretic, is also a beneficial herb.

Fiber-rich Cereal: Women need at least 25 grams of fiber every day, and consuming this amount can help to ease that bloated, uncomfortable feeling. Be careful with fiber consumption, though! If eaten too fast in great quantities, it can actually make bloating worse.

All of these bloat-decreasing foods can be easily included in small, protein-rich meals. Here are some examples of snacks that can keep the body full and feeling good throughout the day.

Yogurt with berries: This snack is rich in protein, and both yogurt and berries can help battle belly bloat. Try mixing 8 oz. of non-fat yogurt with a cup of berries.

Whole-grain cereal: One cup of cereal can provide a substantial amount of fiber. Add a half-cup of skim milk and half a banana to increase calcium and potassium intake.

Fruit and nuts: A serving of fruit, such as an apple, with a handful of unsalted nuts can be a healthy, filling snack. The fruit provides fiber and vitamins, while the nuts add protein.

Stocking up on these foods will do more than simply banish uncomfortable belly bloat this summer. All of these bloat-decreasing snacks are extremely healthy. Snacking healthily is a great way to start, or continue, a fit and healthy lifestyle.

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