Bloating and tummy distention are often pleas from your gut for a bit of tender loving care. While diet and a hectic social life are common culprits, you don’t have to ditch the food and lifestyle you love. Here's five ways to beat the bloat.
Read the whole story in my article for Female First.
1. Swap white for wholegrain. After a big bowl of white pasta or rice, bloating seems inevitable. But you don’t have to give up carbs – just make some smart swaps. Oats are a great source of resistant starch, a type of soluble fibre that’s digested slowly and so less likely to cause bloating. Uncooked oats give maximum benefit, so why not make your own Bircher muesli? Grate half an apple over 45g of raw porridge oats, soak in semi-skimmed milk and pop in the fridge overnight. In the morning, just top with seeds and berries. Or sub spelt sourdough bread for your usual supermarket loaf. Spelt is an ancient form of wheat that’s lower in gluten, and the sourdough making process makes it even more digestible.
2. Try magnesium-rich foods. Sometimes, bloating is actually water retention. A study by the University of Reading found that women who took 200mg magnesium each day had less premenstrual fluid retention by the end of their second cycle. Magnesium is a nutrient that’s easy to get from food. Snack on unsalted nuts or live yoghurt, and use brown rice in your grain bowl. Kale is also a good source of magnesium. If you find it a bit too wholesome, try kale chips. Tear kale leaves into bite-size pieces, spray with olive oil and sprinkle with chilli flakes. Bake at 180°C for 8-10 minutes.
3. Eat little and often. More women come to my clinic complaining about bloating than ever before. But they are often surprised when I tell them that the way they eat is contributing, not just their diet. We live our lives at a hectic pace and that takes its toll on the gut. If you’re skipping lunch because you’re too busy to eat, you’re likely to overeat at dinner. That puts pressure on your digestive system, causing bloating, wind and even diarrhoea. Swerve bloating by eating small meals across the day, which avoids overloading your gut. Eating little and often will also keep your energy levels up, an added bonus.
4. Keep well hydrated. It might seem counterintuitive, but drinking plenty of water can help reduce the chance of water retention and subsequent stomach discomfort. If you don’t drink enough, your body will hold onto fluid as it thinks there’s a shortage. Keeping hydrated supports your kidneys, so they are better able to regulate your body’s fluid levels. Liven up your water bottle with slices of cucumber or lemon or buy a cold tea infuser and experiment with a few new herbal teas. I like liquorice or fennel for their relaxing qualities.
5. Just slow down. If you’re always in a hurry, you’re more than likely to be wolfing down your meal. Unfortunately, that means you’re also taking big gulps of air – straight down into your stomach. Food is a pleasure, so give yourself time to actually enjoy it! Put some music on in the kitchen or head to the office canteen at lunch, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, and give yourself a proper break. Mindful eating means you’re also likely eat less, another way to keep stomach distention under control.