Food and Nutrition

Beat the Bloat: Six Foods to Avoid

| by Mitzi Dulan

Nothing's worse than feeling bloated right before you head out for the night. You can do your hair and make-up, wear nice clothes, and splash on some perfume or cologne, but if you feel and look swollen- that’s all you’ll be thinking about the entire night. Not only is bloating uncomfortable and sometimes even painful, it doesn’t look flattering.

So what exactly is bloating, and how can it be prevented? Bloating is caused by a buildup of gas and undigested food in your stomach and intestines. The good news -  bloating can be reduced and even prevented. Keep these tips in mind to feel good, look great, and FIGHT THE BLOAT!

Foods to Avoid
1. SALTY FOODS: Sodium is attracted to water, and when excess amounts of sodium are consumed, you retain more water, resulting in a puffy appearance and extra water weight. Put down the salt shaker and salt-based seasonings, and avoid canned soups, cured meats and deli meats, salted crackers and chips, and highly processed foods loaded with sodium.
2. FATTY FOODS: Fat delays gastric emptying, slowing the digestion process and causing you to feel heavy and bloated. Avoid fried, fatty foods such as French fries and onion rings, fatty meats such as full-fat hamburgers, hot dogs and other red meat, and high-fat cheeses.
3. CARBONATED DRINKS: These drinks release carbon dioxide gas (the “bubbles”), which accumulate in your belly and cause the bloating sensation. Avoid soda, seltzer, beer, and champagne/sparkling wines.
4. SUGAR-FREE FOODS: Look out for sugar-free cookies, candies, energy bars, and other products that contain sugar alcohols, also named xylitol, sorbitol, or maltitol. Sugar alcohols in artificially sweetened foods and beverages are meant to provide the sweet taste without the calories because the GI tract can’t absorb them. While this may lower caloric intake, it causes gas, abdominal distension, bloating, and diarrhea.
5. GASSY FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: Some fruits and vegetables, especially the ones higher in carbohydrates, create more gas in your GI tract. Watch out for legumes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, onions, peppers, baked beans, potatoes, bananas, raisins, apples, pears, peaches, and lentils. These fruits and vegetables contain complex sugars and starches that are hard to break down and cause bloating. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate these super-nutritious, high-fiber foods completely - just introduce them slowly into your diet and spread them throughout the course of a day.
6. HIGH ACID DRINKS: the acids in these beverages irritate the GI tract, causing bloating. Avoid coffee, alcohol, hot cocoa, and acidic fruit juices.

Foods to Eat:
1. ASPARAGUS: This green veggie is a natural diuretic and promotes the growth of good bacteria in the stomach that helps with digestion.
2. YOGURT: Yogurts rich in probiotics also promote the growth of good bacteria in the stomach that aid digestion.
3. PINEAPPLE: It contains bromelan, an enzyme that promotes good digestion and relieves bloating.
4. PEPPERMINT TEA: A soothing beverage that helps relax the muscles so that gas can be easily released. Peppermint Tea also helps improve the flow of bile, which helps the digestion process work more efficiently.
5. GINGER: Also helps increase the flow of bile from the gallbladder to improve digestion and relives bloating and gas.
6. HIGH-WATER-CONTENT FRUITS & VEGETABLES: Fluid helps flush your body system and remove excess sodium. Look to eat watermelon and other melons, cucumber, celery, cranberry juice, watercress, and artichokes.

1. Drink up! Fluids rid your body of excess sodium.
2. Chew slowly! One cause of bloating is the accumulation of undigested foods. Digestion begins with the mouth so make sure to chew your food completely before swallowing!
3. Chew with your mouth closed and don’t talk while eating: bloating is also caused by swallowing extra air. Keeping your mouth shut while chewing is not only nice for your meal guests, but also prevents swallowing extra air.
4. Avoid chewing gum! This seemingly harmless habit also increases the amount of air swallowing and thus bloating.
5. Get active! Exercising has shown to reduce constipation and decreases water weight by sweating and perspiring.

Research Assistance provided by Marsi Shapiro