Time to recheck those eating habits and favorite food lists
Stress, subscribing to a sedentary lifestyle and a compromised diet can all add up to bloating. Chances are you’re familiar with it: the discomfort, the distended stomach and the too-full feeling; they’re hardly a cause for alarm and anyone can experience them. The belly bloat can be felt by men and women of any age and any background but if you feel something unusual, do bring it up with a professional. It may also be time to reassess those eating habits and the things you consume.
Especially during quarantine, where scrimping on certain resources is sometimes necessary and options for physical activity are limited, bloating can easily manifest. Here, we run down of ways to beat it.
Have a cut-off for your meals and be sure to stop eating two hours before bedtime.
Timing is everything when it comes to banishing the bloat. When you eat and how often you do can impact your digestive health in many ways: either help it move along given its natural rhythm or give it a much harder time and stunt the process.
It’s important to let your digestive tract get some rest, too. It isn’t ideal that, while you sleep, your body is working overtime to metabolize food. Your stomach should have at least 10 hours of rest. So no meals or snacking a minimum of two hours before your bedtime.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Here’s a common misconception: drinking more water will only aggravate a bloated stomach or only cause further bloating. The opposite is actually true. Bloating is often a sign of the body retaining water, an indication that it’s hanging onto fluids in order to keep itself from dehydration. Water is, therefore, obviously lacking. And there’s no better signal to hydrate than that.
At the same time, water isn’t enough. It would do you some good to avoid alcoholic beverages. If not, be sure to make up for lost fluids with more water afterwards.
Go easy on the FODMAPs.
Food items that are rich in FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) are culprits in this beat-the-bloat ordeal.
Foods like beans, white onions, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage contain a type of short-chain carbohydrate that the bacteria in the gut react to, sometimes causing gas, stomach pain, diarrhea or constipation and, you guessed it, bloating. Steer clear of these foods altogether if possible and consider a low FODMAP diet switch.
Add a probiotic to your diet.
As bacteria in the gut get to work, gas is naturally produced. This, along with a relatively healthy digestive track, spells no problem on good days. But there are instances where discomfort and bloating from this gas can occur.
Probiotics that contain strains of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces work to keep your gut microbiome in check and “harmonious.” (Plus, they promote regular bowel movement.) Get a nice healthy helping of the stuff through yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. Probiotic supplements are readily available in drugstores, too.
Hold the salt.
And we’re back to the issue of water retention: Helping yourself to salty foods causes the kidneys to retain water, contributing to that full-belly, all-around puffy feeling. Cut back on the sodium and instead, try to play up the flavor in your meals with herbs and spices next time. For lovers of salty food, this might look like a major adjustment but the effects of a low-sodium diet on the body are always worth it.
Chew your food: take your time, do it right.
This biological function is the starting point of gut health if you really think about it. Food enters the mouth, saliva breaks it down as one chews, it travels down the esophagus and into the stomach to be metabolized further. The problem is that fast-paced lifestyles, distraction while eating and the habit of taking big bites all keep us from side-stepping this obvious yet overlooked cause of bloating. Studies have also shown that people tend to consume more food when they eat at a faster pace. To avoid this, take smaller bites and take your time chewing (32 times is a good number you can target).
Looking for other ways to keep your health and wellness in check during quarantine? Learn more about seven recommended workouts to do while on self-quarantine here.