We have all experienced bloating at some point in our life. The achy extension of the abdomen and uncomfortable gaseous production in the gut is less than pleasant. Belly bloating occurs when your stomach swells, causing your abdomen to feel full and tight. A major trigger for this is often a combination of a poor diet, bad food combining, insufficient water consumption or late night eating among others.
Usually when you wake up in the morning, your stomach is flat, but as the day draws out, so does your stomach! What if I told you that you could completely avoid this and maintain a flat stomach throughout the entire day? Well, you can! By following these 8 simple steps to help reduce bloating and improve the look of your stomach!
How To Get Rid of Belly Bloating for Good
1. Drink Water
A common cause of water retention is dehydration. When you don’t have enough water in your body, your kidneys signal the rest of the body to hold onto water. Aim for 3-4L of water daily! I normally drink 1 litre of lemon water upon waking, then divide the other 3 litres throughout the day, at least 20 minutes before eating. Do not drink water with your food – this can lead to improper digestion and the end result will be bloating. Drinking enough water will stimulate your kidneys to help release water in the body and thus reduce water retention.
2. Learn Proper Food Combining
Properly combining your foods is so important! If you are eating bananas and oranges at the same time – stop! When you combine foods that have different digesting requirements, they ferment in the stomach, creating a gaseous combination that leads to buddha-belly bloating! Click HERE to learn how to properly combine your foods! It is also important to learn to properly chew your food, and assimilate the enzymes in your mouth first before food enters the stomach – doing this will improve digestion, and reduce bloating. Slowing down while you eat is also crucial. It should take you at least 20 minutes to finish a meal.
3. Stop Eating Late at Night
If you are eating heavy meals late at night, or consume foods at least 2 hours before bed, then you will encourage acid build-up in the gut and will indefinitely wake up bloated. The digestive system works most efficiently when you are up and about for at least 3 hours after eating, before going to bed. Consuming large meals causes discomfort to the stomach because it distends the stomach and gives you the bloated look. If you eat too close to bed time, the food will sit in your digestive tract all night, and you will wake up with a foggy head and heavy body.
4. Cut Out Trigger Foods
Highly processed wheat and dairy products are major food allergens to pretty much the entire human population. Not only wheat and dairy, but food additives like sulphur dioxide, un-necessary colouring agents and other chemicals and food preservatives all cause bloating and flatulence and damage our liver. Choose gluten-free products if you so choose to still eat pastas and breads (kamut, rice, amaranth, quinoa), and instead of dairy, you can make miraculous mock-dairy products with coconut such as yogurt, milk and ice cream! Another trigger food is carbonated beverages which create excess gas in the body and cause our stomach to balloon outward. Instead of carbonated beverages, make yourself some freshly pressed green juices or other un-pasturized juices. Your stomach and body will love you for it!
5. Eat Water Rich, RIPE Fruit & Vegetables
Consuming plenty of water rich, ripe fruit and vegetables is a great way to consistently maintain a flat stomach throughout the day. When I used to eat wheat-based cereals, other bread products and dairy throughout the day, not only did I trigger my IBS symptoms, but my stomach was consistently bloated. When I switched to a raw vegan diet I immediately got relief from bloating, and my IBS symptoms disappeared. If you are not accustomed to eating fruit and vegetables, give your body some time to adjust. The fiber will at first, make you a little round in the tummy but this will eventually level out. Over time, the fiber will help push out stagnant matter that has been sitting in your intestines, and thus will flatten you out in no time!
Jump-starting your physical activity can give your digestive system a boost and reduce constipation which is a major bloating contributor. Exercise also helps push gas through the digestive tract more efficiently so that you feel better faster. Note that if you are new to an exercise regime, your body will likely bloat in the first two weeks, then level out – why is this? When you exercise, you are inducing a state of stress on the body which releases the hormone cortisol. This disturbs fluid in the body and causes you to retain water, leading to a pudgy feeling. Like I said, this will only last during the first couple weeks of adjusting to a new exercise routine. Don’t be put off by the temporary pudge!
7. Reduce Stress
Stress is a major factor in weight gain and bloating. As stated above (in the exercise section), when we are stressed, our body releases cortisol and this disturbs the fluid balance in the body, causing you to retain water. If you are constantly stressed, then you will constantly be bloated and hold onto water much easier than someone who is not stressed. Stress also affects our digestion – it actually shuts down a part of the brain that handles digesting food. It also upsets our hormone and neurotransmitter balance. The combination of all of these factors leads to poorly digested food and the creation of gas and bloating.
8. Ditch The Salt!
Salt is a major contributor to bloating. When we consume salt, our body tries to dilute this salt with large amounts of water, causing major water retention. This causes bloating, which is incredibly uncomfortable and not the prettiest sight (I remember when I used to eat so much salt, whether in processed foods, or sprinkled on my food – I would look at least 5-6 months pregnant after doing so, and just felt like lying around in my bed).
Other reasons why you may be bloated could be that you suffer from Candida or have low stomach acid.
Candida occurs naturally in the body, but when we consume foods that are high in fat, and then eat sugar-rich foods at the same time, we create an environment where candida can multiply and create problems in the body, especially bloating. Symptoms of candidiasis include bloating, flatulence, bad breath, fatigue, food cravings (especially for refined sugary foods), food intolerances, depression and mood swings, irritability, headaches, lack of concentration and brain fog, fungal infections and body rashes. Antimicrobial herbs like Pau D’arco, Wormwood, Black Walnut, Clove, Goldenseal, Grapefruit Seed Extract and Probiotics can help here!
Low stomach acid can also occur as a result of poor diet, stress, prescription medication, lack of exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption can all impair digestive function. If you experience indigestion, bloating, belching, flatulence, reflux, diarrhea, constipation and fullness after eating and have undigested food in your stool, you may suffer from low stomach acid. Avoid refined sugars and carbohydrates, trans fatty acids, excessive saturated fats, gluten, lactose and any other food allergens. Chew slowly, don’t eat on the run, or in front of TV. Also, consume lots of papaya and pineapple – papaya contains the enzyme papain, and pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which both significantly improve digestive function!