Indulged a little too much over the holiday weekend and feeling bloated as you return to work? Good news: a couple of simple changes will banish the bloat.
Try these out for a few days, and watch your belly deflate:
- Go for a 10-minute walk after a meal. Moving your body will help air bubbles pass through your digestive tract quicker and the bloated feeling will disappear faster, dietician Christine Gerbstadt tells Fitness Magazine.
- Split up your dairy intake. Too much dairy at once might be causing the bloat. Spread your dairy intake throughout the day, and choose dairy that comes from yogurt and hard cheeses, like cheddar and provolone, which are digested more easily, advises Fitness.
- Nix the salt. Sodium is one of the biggest belly-bulge culprits. Cut out the salt, and counter its effects by eating potassium-rich fruits and vegetables, like leafy greens, potatoes with the skin and bananas. "Potassium can lower the body's tendency to retain salt and water," a dietician tells iVillage. Use herbs and spices to season instead.
- Cut out sugar substitutes. Sugar alcohols like xylitol, malitol, and sorbitol found in low-calorie and sugar-free foods are only partially absorbed in the digestive system -- the unabsorbed parts linger in the gut, and when bacteria feed on them, it creates instant gas, reports iVillage. Limit your intake of sugar-free gums, candies and chocolate -- and foods packaged as "diet" or "low-calorie," which often contain these sugar substitutes.
- Slow down while eating. Gulping through meals increases the amount of air your swallow. Take small bites and chew thoroughly, iVillage advises.
- Steer clear of acidic drinks. These include coffee, tea, juice and alcohol. Stick to tap water blended with small amounts of ginger, cucumber, lemon and spearmint.
- Be choosy about your fiber. Fiber is supposed to help your digestive system, but certain forms of fiber make it harder to digest. Get your fiber from fruits and vegetables (preferably steamed -- see next tip) and whole-grain rice, past and bread rather than from packaged high-fiber products. And check the labels on your favorite fiber-filled foods: If they contain chicory fiber, they most likely have inulin, which is harder to digest, according to Fitness.
- Avoid raw vegetables and fresh fruits. Steam your veggies instead, and eat canned fruit in natural juice or small portions of dried fruit for a few days, Prevention Magazine recommends. A half-cup serving of cooked carrots delivers the same nutrition as one cup raw, but it takes up less room in your GI tract. And avoid particularly gas-producing veggies like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and legumes; instead cook up green beans, mushrooms and squash.