After countless “belly-blasting” exercises and low carb diets, you may still be frustrated about not feeling your best. It’s not that you have a long ways to go in shedding the weight you want, but your “fat” feeling seems to linger. What gives? That’s your bloat talking – and it can fool you into thinking you’re still overweight even if you’re not. Try these tips to help you debloat and keep your digestive system running smoothly.
Contract your abs throughout the day
“Many people aren’t actually bloated at all; they’ve just developed a habit of relaxing their abdominal muscles and contracting their diaphragm, which makes them look and feel bloated because their stomachs are sticking out,” says Brennan Spiegel, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Each day, make it a practice to periodically engage your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine for five to ten seconds. Avoid holding your breath while doing so. Sure, it won’t substitute the effects of an actual ab workout, but you will train your abdominal muscles even while sitting down and working at your desk!
Yogurt is your friend
Yogurts are rich in active cultures (which increase “good bacteria”) in the digestive tract and allow for more efficient digestion and prevention of belly bloat. Opt for plain, nonfat or low-fat yogurts (rather than flavored) and add your own fresh fruit if you need a bit of sweetness.
No to sodium and sugar, yes to fiber
Get into the habit of reading labels – and not just the calorie count. Foods that are highly processed tend to be high in sodium, high in artificial sweetening and low in fiber, which can contribute to that puffed up feeling. Many ingredients in processed, frozen or canned foods are required to increase the shelf life and flavor of the product. Stick with fresh ingredients you can understand and pronounce and limit the rest.
A banana a day keeps the bloat away
When potassium levels in your body are low, the body retains extra sodium and holds onto water – causing you to feel heavier than normal. Potassium-rich foods, like bananas, help remove this excess sodium through your urine. Bananas are also a great source of fiber, which fights constipation and promotes weight loss.
Eat slowly and mindfully
“Eating quickly and not chewing your food well can cause air swallowing that leads to bloating, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet. Research has shown that eating more slowly may also cause you to eat less. So slow down! You may even find that your meals are more satisfying.