We’ve all been there, with that fuller stomach and swollen feeling after a meal…Or sometimes, long after a meal! So, how do you get rid of bloating?
There are actually tens of different possible causes of belly bloating — from heartburn to celiac disease — but for simplicity’s sake, I’m only going to talk about the most common causes…and, more importantly, how to bust that bloat!
First, I want to debunk one persistent myth that bloating is the same thing as “water weight,” and that things like laxatives will purge away the bloat…NO!
Water weight is a real thing, caused by not drinking enough water, and also caused by excessive sugar, salt, and alcohol intake, because all of these things cause you to retain extra water in your cells. So, the way to get rid of water weight is by drinking more water, and by eating a pure, naturally low-salt and low-sugar HFLC diet!
Fair enough, right? But belly bloating is actually the buildup of trapped air/gas in your abdomen. (“Water weight” swelling can be seen in the feet/ankles, not the stomach.)
Trapped gas…that sounds gross and a little scary, right? Plus, all that trapped gas often makes your stomach hard in a not-abs way, plus it hurts! Don’t worry, there are abundant ways to get rid of bloating, and see your abs again (or for most of us, work toward that goal!).
Change Up Your Diet
Unfortunately, there are a lot of foods that can be the culprit, if you’re wondering why you’re bloated. Healthline.com recommends keeping a food diary. Then, see if you’re eating a lot of the following:
- High-fiber foods (obviously, fiber is good, but this is just another excuse to limit or cut out the wheat in your diet. But wait, fiber should help with bloating and GI issues, not cause them, right? That’s what I thought, too, and it’s still true that fiber aids digestion…but it also creates a fermentation process in your gut, which = gas. When it comes to this one, you’ll want to continue eating enough fiber, but just avoid high-fiber foods right before you’re, let’s say, going to a big event in a form-fitting dress!)
- Fried, processed, artificial food (because your body takes longer to digest this stuff, which means food is stuck, gas accumulates, GI tract bacteria grows, and you get constipated. All of these factors worsen belly bloating. Also, take note that even though I 100% advocate a HFLC diet, artificial sugars like sorbitol and xylitol also fall into this category.)
- Soda (it makes sense that carbonated beverages would cause gas buildup, right?)
- Foods with lactose, especially if you’re intolerant
- Cabbage family/cruciferous veggies: broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
Now, I know you might be freaking out about those last two! And, please, do not throw out that kale salad just because of this! I only want you to be aware of what leads to gas in the stomach and therefore, a hard, swollen belly…
Plus, for veggies and beans, they actually only have a belly-bloating effect on SOME people, whose bodies don’t react well to FODMAPs, which are a certain type of carb that produces gas. Obviously, because it’s based on carb content, veggies aren’t nearly as bad of an offender as grains, anyway!
So, since you’re not about to toss your broccoli in the trash (the way you might have wanted to when you were little!) it’s more important to talk about about what foods GET RID OF bloating!
- Probiotics (from yogurt to kombucha, these little guys help balance your gut bacteria!)
- Anti-inflammatory foods (because they calm your body’s stress responses, which indirectly aids digestion. Think berries, eggs, olive oil, fish, dark chocolate…wait a minute, this is sounding like a high-fat diet, isn’t it? 😉 )
- Water (yep, drinking water not only helps with getting rid of excess water weight, but also with getting rid of belly gas. Why? Because it speeds up the digestive process! This means that watery veggies like celery and asparagus, which also has compounds similar to probiotics, will drain the bloat.)
- Teas like peppermint and chamomile (aids digestion)
- Apple cider vinegar (aids digestion)
- Lactase (aids digestion if you’re a lactose-intolerant person who just can’t help but reach out for that cheese plate!! This comes in supplement form.)
Exercise is another good way to get rid of bloating, since you’re “pumping the gas” when you pump iron (sorry, gross) by making digestion happen more quickly. Of course, drink lots of water during your workout to make this a double threat!
Even better, if you want to know how to burn calories through simple, easy strength exercises while you’re watching Netflix, check out my article here!