THE time you’re struggling to zip up those jeans, don’t panic that you’ve suddenly piled on a dress size just before summer.
Instead of having piled on the pounds, you could simply be suffering from temporary bloating caused by gas and water.
Now, nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville reveals how you can quickly reduce a bulging stomach with a few lifestyle tweaks from eating different vegetables tocutting back on spicy foods.
DRINK MORE WATER
Your body is made up of approximately 70 per cent water and although you might think drinking less will make you cut down on bloating, it’s completely untrue.
Dr Marilyn, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar, said: ‘Most of us do not drink enough fluids and, ironically, women who suffer from water retention tend to restrict their liquid intake thinking that the less they drink, the less their bodies will retain.
‘Actually, the opposite is true. If you restrict fluids your body will try to compensate and retain liquid, just in case it is short supply. That can cause bloating.’
So make sure to drink your recommended amount of two litres a day – two and a half litres a day for men – to keep hydrated.
CHOOSE YOUR FRUIT AND VEGETABLES CAREFULLY
Although all vegetables are good for you but think wisely when you’re buying your greens at the supermarket.
Marilyn said: ‘Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage may cause bloating and excess wind. For some people, these vegetables are not digested completely in the small intestines maybe due to a lack of enzymes.
‘It means, that when they reach the large intestines, bacteria in that part of the gut can cause gas and bloating when breaking down those foods.’
While in fruits, plums can also be a regular suspect as they are packed with sugar alcohols, which can ferment, causing bloating and gas.
CUT DOWN ON DAIRY
Even if you’re not a fan of dairy alternatives, just cutting back on the white stuff is an easy way to lose the bloat.
Marilyn said: ‘Some people don’t produce the enzyme lactase, which helps them breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk.
‘You need this enzyme in your body in order to break down the lactose, otherwise it ferments in the gut causing pain, gas and bloating.’
SAY NO TO CROISSANTS, COOKIES AND PASTA
Although carbohydrates are necessary in your diet, Marilyn advised skipping refined carbs which are much more likely to cause bloating.
She said: ‘Refined carbohydrates will have a higher glycaemic index (GI) than unrefined carbs so they are broken down into glucose (sugar) more quickly which can cause bloating and gas.
‘They can also often contain wheat, which can be a problem for people with IBS symptoms.’
If you’re a curry fan, choose a milder version as extra spice in your diet should be avoided if trying to stop bloating.
Marilyn said: Some spicy foods can stimulate the release of stomach acid, which can cause irritation and others can ferment in the digestive system causing bloating.
HAVE MORE FIBRE
Fibre is essential for a healthy digestive system and has a beneficial effect on the bowels, as well as the rest of your body.
Dr Marilyn said: ‘Fibre also prevents food from putrefying inside your body, which can give you symptoms such as bloating and flatulence.’
So stock up on cereals filled with fibre, particularly bran flakes, as well as foods packed full of it like mushrooms and sweet potatoes.
CHEW YOUR FOOD PROPERLY
Try to chew each mouthful until the food is liquid – not only will this help to ensure that the food is properly digested, but it will also help you to eat slower.
Also, when you take more time to thoroughly chew and taste your food, your snack or meal becomes more satisfying and so will prevent you from over eating.
AVOID LARGE MEALS
Eat less but more often. Eating a large meal increases feelings of fullness but you will be more likely to eat more calories.
Instead of eating three large meals a day, try four to six smaller meals spread out throughout the day.
DON’T CHEW GUM
It might keep your mouth busy and stop you reaching for the biscuit tin but chewing gum can also lead to swallowing air, which can cause bloating.
Dr Marilyn advised: ‘It can also stimulate your digest enzymes to expect food, which can then stimulate hunger.
‘If you do have to snack, it’s better to graze on a healthy, high-fibre snack like oatcakes, carrot batons or low fat popcorn.’
Although some foods contain natural sugars, beware artificial sweeteners which contain organic compounds called sugar alcohols, such as xylitol and sorbitol, which although derived from sugar isn’t actually considered one.
Marilyn said: ‘Many people suffer from bloating because they consume too much sugar alcohol in artificially sweetened foods and drinks, and so it is important to avoid these sweeteners as much as possible.’
While ‘diet’ sugary drinks can also be a downfall, despite being low in calories as the fizzy bubbles in carbonated diet drinks can cause gas to get trapped in your stomach and will cause bloating.
Marilyn advised instead, drink water flavoured with lemon, lime, or cucumber or try some peppermint tea for a soothing beverage that may help reduce bloat.
She said: ‘Not only are these great bloat-free alternatives but they will also help you to cleanse and detoxify the body.’