Are you tired of not being able to fit into your favorite skinny jeans or hate having rings stuck on your fingers due to bloating? Bloating makes you feel like you’ve gained weight, but luckily this is only due to the temporary buildup of fluid or air in our bodies. Bloating tends to be less stubborn than body fat so it usually only lasts a couple of hours to a few days. Limit these bloat-causing foods to keep fluid retention to a minimum.
1. Salt – Sodium is the main culprit to bloating and swelling. Both our taste buds and water are attracted to salt. Eating foods high in sodium will cause you to temporarily retain more fluid contributing to extra water weight. Chips, fries, pizza and processed foods are key enemies to flat tummies and ring wearers. Read the Nutrition Facts Label to find low-salt foods with less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.
Bloat-free alternatives: Add flavor with salt-free seasonings, like Mrs. Dash, or try a potassium-based salt substitute.
2. Legumes – Beans, peas and lentils contain indigestible sugars known as oligosaccharides that can cause gassiness and bloating. These sugars pass through the small intestine undigested and then break down in the large intestine by bacteria which produces gas in the process. Soaking beans overnight will help reduce the oligosaccharide content and lessen the chances of flatulence.
Bloat-free alternatives: Steamed green beans or take a digestive enzyme like Bean-O
3. Carbonated Drinks – It is best to avoid fizzy drinks during swimsuit season. Carbonation can cause gas buildup in your stomach which can often lead to discomfort, bloating, and likely belching since those bubbles have to go somewhere. These side effects are more of an annoyance rather than a real health concern.
Bloat-free alternatives: Water and herbal tea (like peppermint)
4. High Carbohydrate Foods – Prevent bloating by reducing foods high in carbohydrates like sweets, potatoes, breads, rice and pasta. Muscles store energy in the form of glycogen that holds onto water. If you’re not a vigorous exercise enthusiast then this glycogen will remain untapped energy taking up unnecessary space. Cut back on carbohydrates to train your body to burn off this surplus of energy and release the extra water weight.
Bloat-free alternatives: High protein foods and whole grains (in portion sized amounts)
5. Raw fruits and veggies
Some vegetables should be limited more than others when it comes to bloating. Raw cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, onions, peppers, asparagus and Brussels sprouts tend to produce more gas and distension. These vegetables are easier to digest when cooked. Fruits that are more prone to bloating due to their gas-producing effects include citrus fruits, apricots and prunes. Choose these fruits in moderation.
Bloat-free alternatives: Steamed and cooked vegetables, bananas, cucumbers and papaya
6. Gum – Chewing gum causes you swallow more air and the sugar-free varieties often contain sugar alcohols that can worsen bloating. Swallowed air can make you feel like a blown-up balloon when it’s trapped in your GI tract. Kick the gum habit by using mouth wash regularly, drinking more water and by chewing on anti-bloat foods like ginger and parsley.
Bloat-free alternatives: Unsalted nuts, sunflower seeds or popcorn
7. Sugar Alcohols – Xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, lactitol, isomalt and maltitol are poorly digested sugars often found in sugar-free candies and desserts. Sugar alcohols help reduce the sugar and calorie content of foods with the possible unfortunate side effects of bloating and diarrhea. Steer clear of sugar alcohols by reading the ingredients list and the “Nutrition Facts” panel on products.
Bloat-free alternatives: Sugar substitutes, honey or agave
Tips to Reduce Bloating
- Eat slowly – meals should last at least 20 minutes.
- Choose low-fat foods to keep yourself from feeling miserably stuffed.
- Choose smaller portions of food to avoid overeating (which is one of the most common causes of bloating).
- Avoid drinking with a straw since this act can increase the amount of air you gulp down.
- Reduce anxiety to prevent swallowing more air when nervous.
- Refrain from chewing gum and sucking on hard candies.
- Don’t smoke – inhaling smoke also causes you to inhale more air.
- Consume yogurts high in probiotics to help ease digestion with “good” bacteria (also known as “active cultures”).
- Add fiber into your diet slowly.
Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.