Feel like you need to induce that food baby you’ve got going on? We hear you. It’s not a good look for anyone, and it’s not comfortable either. Trapped wind, gurgling gut, lack of energy—the side effects of a bloated belly are enough to send you straight home, no doctor’s note needed.
But who wants to let their midriff dictate their diary? Or their wardrobe? Luckily, there are some sneaky tricks you can employ to help with your flat stomach mission. And they don’t just involve cutting carbs and avoiding sugar because while we know that helps, it isn’t exactly fun.
Read on to discover the speedy de-bloating tricks you can add to your day.
Dress up your water
Water infusions are trendy, sure, but adding a natural spice or herb to your H2O could relieve pressure and cramping. Reach for cayenne pepper to fire up digestion, turmeric to detoxify, or lemon and ginger to calm and ease cramping, or any queasiness you feel from the dreaded bloat.
Breathe it out
Your tummy hurts, and you’re worried everyone will notice your newly formed bump beneath your clothes, so you stress about it. And where do you hold that tension? In your tummy. It’s a vicious cycle, but that saying about your gut being your second brain is no fallacy. While you might not be able to hit the deck for a quick snooze during the day, some deep belly breathing can alleviate tightness anxiety and get things moving again. Make sure you’re doing it right by putting your hand below your belly button and taking long, slow breaths in and out. If your tum doesn’t rise and fall, your breath is too shallow, and you’re wasting your time. It’s better if you’re standing, but doing it at your desk is better than nothing.
The power of 12
Put down your phone, turn off the TV, avert your eyes from your emails and chew each mouthful 12 times when you’re filling your face. “The more you chew your food, the more you mix it with the saliva in your mouth, which is what contains amylase, the digestive enzyme that begins breaking down food,” explains nutritionist Gabriela Peacock. (A need to know if you feel like you have nuggets of undigested food stuck in your stomach.)
Fruit and veg are a mixed bag when it comes to digestion, but one thing we do know is that pineapple, papaya and honeydew melons are mean de-bloating machines. “Melon has diuretic properties that prevent water retention, while pineapple and papaya contain bromelain and papain enzymes that break down heavy proteins that have a habit of pushing your belly outwards,” says Peacock.
Don't be a gummy bear
Great mouth fresheners and snack distractors, but not so good if you have a sensitive stomach. Chewing constantly means you’re swallowing more air than you should. Yes, it’s calorie-free, but where’s all that excess air going? We don’t need to spell it out.
Skip the protein bar
Beans are a known offender for belly ballooning, so before you unwrap your protein bar, check what else is in it. A lot of protein isolate is derived from soybeans, so while you might not be chowing down on the raw form, your body might still struggle to break down the sugar molecules (oligosaccharides) that some people struggle to digest. When left to their own devices, they ferment, causing gurgling and gas. Gomacro’s bars use a rice and pea protein over soy, so if you do want some post-workout fuel, they’re the one to reach for.
Think it’s that pasta salad that’s causing you problems? It could be the carbs, but it could also be how much you’ve eaten. If you’re feeling a bit delicate, downsize on the portions and go for a little-and-often approach, even just for a day or two to give your gut time to repair and revive itself. Need a helping hand? Try Mealkitt’s genius portion-control containers. The new lunch boxes on the block? We think so!
Coriander is crucial
Any excuse for a curry right? Seriously, though, a study in the journal Digestive Diseases and Science found that patients with IBS benefited from adding coriander to their diets. It’s because it contains a blend of oils that relaxes overactive guts.
Make a move
Even just 15 minutes of movement will egg on your intestines to get moving, so whether you get a HIIT session sweat on or simply take a little stroll around the block, putting one foot in front of the other can reduce the puff. Stretching and yoga are other good go-tos for sore guts, as just by twisting the abdomen, you can help squeeze out extra air.
Dine out on dark choc
Try and swerve the dairy milk for a few hours (or days if you can), but don’t deprive yourself altogether. As long as your chocolate has more than 70% cacao, you’re onto a winner. That’s because as well as being a great antioxidant, microbes in the cacao transform into anti-inflammatory compounds that help smooth rotund bellies. Dialling Lindt right now…
Bulk up on bacteria
Probiotics are your belly’s bestie if you’re constantly battling the bulge. You won’t notice results in a day, but feeding your insides with gut-balancing bacteria could get you back on track in the long run. Usually. in tablet form, Symprove is the new kid on the bacteria-boosting block. A water-based format that means it gets straight to your stomach without sparking digestion (when this happens the bacteria starts breaking down and so won’t work as well), it’s been clinically proven to soothe and smooth on the inside and out.
Sweet and salty
Greasy high-fat foods are no friends if you’re suffering from a moment of tummy madness. Even healthy nuts and cheese get the no-no from nutritionists when you’re experiencing an outburst. If you just can’t resist reaching for them, follow up with a potassium-rich snack. “Potassium counteracts the sodium in salt, reducing water retention,” says Peacock. Watermelon, bananas, mangos and tomatoes are all brilliant sources of the stuff.
Train your tract
Sitting on the toilet for hours on end in the hope that your bloat will simply drop out is a waste of time, but 10 minutes of on-the-pan action every day at the same time could help get things moving. “As soon as we’ve been potty-trained, we forget about our toilet habits,” says Janie Eastoe, colonic hydrotherapist at Naturality Wellness Centre. “Rushing out the door, poor diet, stress and lack of sleep can all impact a healthy bowel, so you might just need to retrain your insides. After a while, they should start remembering how to perform properly.” A bit like riding a bike then.
Next, discover how an Ayurvedic healer could help your gut, too.