Feel slim and svelte all through the month.
Jeans feeling tighter than usual even though they fitted just fine the night before? Chances are you’ve been struck by the bloat. It affects most women either just before their menstrual cycle but it can strike at any time. It could be caused by one of two things, the formation of gas in the digestive tract after you’ve eaten or drunk something bloat-inducing or due to water retention, a buildup of fluid in the body. However, with a little foresight you can stop the bloat in its tracks and look and feel trim no matter what.
Gluten and lactose intolerance
After a heavy meal complete with parathas, palak paneer and creamy kulfi it’s easy to blame your distended tummy on gluttony but the real culprit may well be allergies and not greed. Many adults are intolerant to lactose and gluten. Maida, whole wheat flour and oats all contain gluten while paneer, ice cream, yoghurt and milk-based desserts are a rich source of milk proteins, lactose and casein.
Many adults lack the enzymes to digest them and bloating, burping, coughing and even the loosies are common side effects of milk and sugar intolerance. Even childhood milk drinkers can find it harder to digest milk as they get older. Maintain a food diary; if bloat strikes after you consume milk, wheat, soya, beans and honey, it’s time you switched to lighter alternatives.
Vegetables you should avoid
“Sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are gas-causing foods, so either steam them lightly or eat smaller portions,” says Nykaa wellness expert Naini Setalvad. You need fiber to stay regular so instead max your fiber intake by sprinkling a spoonful of flax seeds to your daal or vegetable, she suggests. Flax is also a good source of heart-healthy Omega 3.
Drinks that cause the bloat .
The biggest culprit is aerated drinks. Soda traps air inside the large intestine causing gas. Stick to plain water instead. In fact if you regularly suffer from water retention, drink more—not less—water. In fact dehydration can also cause bloating. Prune juice is a natural diuretic, so dilute with water for a refreshing drink.
Coffee is a stomach irritant that triggers acid release and creates tummy gas. “Instead sip on herbal teas to calm and relax the digestive system,” says Setalvad. Nykaa suggests Jay Cinnamon Apple Tea, Jay Green Peppermint Teaand Gaia Green Tea Ginger.
Salty treats equal water retention
Anyone who lives in Mumbai knows that salt turns to a slushy mess in the monsoons. That’s because salt attracts moisture. So if you love your pickles, papads and namkeen remember that the higher the concentration of sodium in your blood, the more your body holds on to water to dilute its concentration. Scarier yet are the hidden salts that lurk in breakfast cereals, ready-to-eat meals and canned foods. Try and keep your daily intake to less than one teaspoon a day to stave off the bloat.
Natural diuretics to the rescue
Some fruits and veggies are natural diuretics that flush out excess water. Eat your fill of watermelon, oranges, sweet lime, celery, cucumber and cranberry juice.
Banish sugar substitutes .
In your quest for eternal slimness if you’re gorging on sugar-free treats like ice creams, diet colas and even chewing gum, stop right now. “Artificial sweeteners contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that can’t be absorbed by your digestive tract,” says Setalvad. They tend to ferment in your stomach and produce bacteria and gas, a major cause of bloating. Feel like an ice cream? Have a small bowlful of the real thing.
Stay away from fatty food
A burger, puris, samosas, sausages or fries can leave you bloated because it’s tough for your digestive tract to break down the fat. Fried food and saturated fat from meat slows down the digestion because they’re harder to break down. Instead sauté your fave snacks in sunflower or olive oil to make them easier to digest.
Too much fiber .
Eating a diet that is too fiber-rich can also cause bloating, especially if you’re not drinking enough water to flush it out. Insoluble fiber absorbs water and can cause bloating. Your daily fiber intake should be about 25 grams a day. If you’re eating healthy but feeling bloated it’s probably because you’re having too much fiber. For instance, an apple has about 4 gm of fiber while a bowl of oatmeal or two rotis contains 6 gm. Check the fiber content of your daily foods and stay within the prescribed limit.
One glass and no more
There are plenty of reasons to stop at one glass of wine. Alcohol is dehydrating and acidic, which means it holds on to water just like caffeine. If you’re out drinking with friends, limit yourself to one glass of wine and stay away from highly processed drinks like beer, tequila and rum. These have high sugar content. Switch to vodka instead. It has the lowest concentration of sugar.
Medicines that cause the bloat .
Birth control pills, steroids, and anti-inflammatories can cause water retention. If you simply have to take these meds check with your doctor about switching to less bloat-inducing alternatives.
If you needed one more reason to exercise, here it is. Ultimately your digestive tract is muscle that gets flabby when you don’t work out. A brisk walk, yoga, stretches and stomach crunches stimulate your digestion by inducing gastrointestinal contractions that push gas out.
Eat like a lady .
Wolfing down your food, drinking lots of water with your meal or talking while eating can all cause bloating. Let mealtimes be special. Eat slowly and taste your food, savoring every mouthful. Leave the chatting for later. Right now, just enjoy what’s on your plate.