You're Not Fat, Just BloatedPosted on Apr 10th 2009 5:00PM by Jacki Donaldson
Bloating is usually caused by either a buildup of gas or fluid retention, say the "Body Talk" folks at Ladies Home Journal. Both can make your belly feel heavy and distended, and we all know that zipping jeans over a poochy tummy is a real downer. Help is here -- LHJ offers these ideas for blasting the bloat.
- Fiber. If you have a bowel movement less than three times per week, your digestion might be on the sluggish side, and your gut may be growing as a result. A high-fiber diet can help -- get 25 grams per day if you're under 50 and 21 grams after that. Increase your fiber by three to five grams per week (one apple, one cup of oatmeal) -- any faster and you might make the bloating worse.
- Gassy Foods. Fried and fatty foods, and some high-fiber goods, like beans, broccoli and cabbage, can boost your bloat. Try avoiding some of these items for a few days and see if your mid-section melts away. You don't want to eliminate veggies, though, so just cut back and try to find some options that don't bother you. You can also try Beano drops or tablets before eating your favorite foods. Anti-gas medications can help too.
- Gulping Air. When you chew gum, drink through a straw, down sodas and smoke, you swallow air, and this can put carbon dioxide into your digestive tract. You don't want that, so stop smoking, cut back on the gum and straws and eat and drink slowly to reduce air intake.
- Hormones. Progesterone surges prior to your periods, and water retention and slower digestion follow. Avoid salty foods and alcohol consumption prior to your period, and up your exercise to stimulate your system.
As always, we think you should consult your physician for anything that could signal a medical problem, and in some cases, bloating might be more serious than you think. If it occurs for more than a couple of weeks or is accompanied by other symptoms, like abdominal pain, a change in bowel habits or nausea, be sure to get yourself to a doctor.