If you’ve been feeling inflated lately, your diet may be responsible for your puffed-out pooch. We all know to eat less salt and to scale back on drinks during happy hour. But what else can we do to stop bloating and ease our swollen bellies? We spoke with two wellness professionals to gather their tricks on how to improve gut health with a diet of flat-belly foods.
What Exactly is Bloating?
Sinclair Fischer-Gray, Trainer and Chef to Orlando Bloom, tells us that bloating happens instantly as we eat food that doesn’t digest properly. It starts with cramps and a distended, hard belly. Bloating is not normal, or healthy—it’s a warning that the food you’ve eaten has caused inflammation.
Key Bloating Culprits
Processed food is the top bloat inducer according to Dorit Jaffe, the holistic nutrition counselor behind Whole Healthy Glow. When her clients complain about a heavy tummy she advises them to start eliminating fried, processed, and sugary foods. Liquor may also be responsible for your morning pooch if you had a few drinks the night before.
The most surprising bloat causer? Healthy veggies such as Brussels Sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, and cauliflower. While these foods have several benefits, they can be hard for your small intestine to break down. This leads to leftover pieces of food in your digestive tract which ferment and cause gas.
Time for Tea
Once the overloaded sensation of bloating sets in, Jaffe recommends her clients take two probiotics and drink a fresh lemon-ginger tea to start reducing swelling immediately. The healthy bacteria in probiotics can aid digestion and increase the absorption of food’s nutrients.* Ginger-lemon tea can soothe the stomach, reduce inflammation, flush toxins out of the system, and aid the body in digesting the food that has caused bloating. Chamomile, peppermint, turmeric, and green tea have also been shown to fight bloat.
It’s important to wait until bloating has subsided before eating again according to Fischer-Grey. Chewing each bite thoroughly—at least 20 times—will also help the body to digest as it helps breakdown the food in your mouth making digestion easier on the rest of your system.
Jaffe has her clients try intermittent fasting to fight excessive or long-lasting bloating. Giving the digestive system a long break of 12-14 hours can help prevent future bloating and help your system reset, so to speak.
Try to have all of your meals in a 10 hour period between 9 AM – 7 PM. Fischer-Gray believes in a similar principle, “In my opinion, how much someone eats and what they eat is more important than how often they eat.” Both experts we spoke to advocate for giving the digestive system a break when fighting bloat.
Flat Tummy Foods
Cooked vegetables are easier to digest than raw vegetables according to Scientific American. Jaffe recommends eating organic, cooked greens such as spinach and zucchini with roasted sweet potato. These tummy healthy foods will keep bloating down, energy levels up, and your pH balanced. Fischer-Gray suggests eating fermented foods that are rich with beneficial bacteria such as kefir, coconut yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
Some more bloat-bashing veggies include celery and eggplant. Celery naturally flushes extra liquids while eggplant is low sodium and has a high concentration of water so it aids in de-bloating. Tomatoes get rid of belly-bloating sodium thanks to their high levels of potassium. Toss veggies into the oven with some ghee and seasoning for roasted veggies or make a stir fry on the stove.
If you’re in between meals when bloat settles in, treat yourself to a fresh fruit salad made with the bloat-fighting kiwi, banana, and honeydew melon with some grated ginger on top. Kiwi is high in fiber and helps the body avoid constipation. Bananas naturally relieve water retention through their high levels of potassium and fiber. Honeydew melon is primarily water so it is a natural electrolyte replacement due to its potassium levels.
Carrot Ginger Soup
To beat bloat quickly Jaffe recommends making her simple carrot-ginger soup for lunch or dinner:
Serves 3-4 people
1 lb carrots which are high in potassium that fights bloating
1 small diced yellow onion
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. ghee
32 oz container of vegetable broth
1 tbsp. fresh ginger
2 cups water (as needed)
1. Melt the ghee on low heat in a saucepan. Add the onion and cumin. Cook for about 5 minutes until onion is translucent.
2. Add in carrots, vegetable broth, and fresh ginger.
3. Bring to a boil and then cover with the lid and simmer on low for 30 minutes or until vegetables are fully cooked.
4. Blend with a hand blender. If the soup needs more liquid add more water to the mixture. Season with salt and pepper according to taste
Need an anti-bloating breakfast option?
Check out the recipe for a “Cure All” smoothie here!
*Always consult a doctor before adding supplements to your diet