Even though we commonly think of bloating as more of an annoyance than anything else, according to holistic nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, the condition is actually a legitimate health issue and far more complex (both in cause and treatment) than one would assume. So while certain habits and lifestyle tweaks can most definitely help ease and prevent the feeling of our stomachs expanding into our high-waisted jeans, there's typically a larger issue at work that likely warrants a trip to a healthcare provider you trust. That said, pretty much everyone experiences bloating to one degree or another at some point in their life, and knowing some risk factors (aka super-stealthy instigators) will certainly prove helpful if you're looking to wake up feeling lighter and leaner than you did the night prior.
As Snyder explains, bloating is often caused by one (or more) of the following: hormones, indigestion, and/or water retention. And while all the above should be investigated by a health professional (more serious conditions like SIBO, IBS or Crohn's disease could be at play, after all), they can also be managed with some strategic lifestyle tweaks. When it comes to health and wellness, we're perpetually sceptical of quick fixes, but according to multiple experts we consulted, there are a few worthwhile habits that can soothe and possibly stave off bloating overnight. Curious about our healthy roster of tips and tricks? Keep scrolling! A healthier, happier and in turn flatter tummy awaits.
1. Make Friends With Digestive Enzymes
As far as my own personal battle against bloating goes, incorporating a high-quality capsule of digestive enzymes twice per day before my two biggest meals (for me that's lunch and dinner) has made a world of difference in reducing my bloat and effortlessly flattening my tummy, and Snyder agrees. Essentially, enzymes aid your body's natural digestion to better break down the food you consume and to minimise indigestion and, in turn, excess bloating and gas. Snyder likes the above formula from Garden of Life.
2. Avoid Eating for at Least Two Hours Before Bed
Not only does eating late at night mess with your natural "fast" and potentially discombobulate a healthy circadian rhythm, but it can also induce unwanted bloating. Letting your digestive system rest for a full 10 to 12 hours each night sets your metabolism (and belly!) up for success so it's not hard at work digesting your food when it's biologically designed to take it easy.
3. Swap Ice-Cold Beverages for Warm
"I cringe when I see people drinking ice-cold liquids during meals," says Snyder. "This will impede the digestive process by diluting gastric juices, such as your HCL, and cooling your overall digestion at a critical time. You also dilute the digestive enzymes your body needs for the effective digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats."
In lieu, Snyder recommends sipping on lukewarm water or hot tea—just make sure you sip slowly and don't chug. Also, avoid drinking during your meals, delegating sips to 30 minutes before and at least 45 minutes after you've finished your snack or meal.
4. Prioritise Time to Unwind
Not to be the bearer of bad news, but stress (the bearer of all bad things in the wellness world) is also correlated to bloating. Your gut is a huge house of nerves, after all.
In an article we saw in Health, Kristi King, RDN, explains that our stress levels are directly connected to what's going on in our gut—specifically, our digestion—an explanation also backed up by science, as stress can instigate and/or exacerbate gastrointestinal pain, imbalances and other symptoms.
5. Slow Down Your Chew Pace
Not only will chewing more slowly speed up your metabolism—yes, really—but it also encourages healthier digestion and, in turn, less bloat.
"So many of us are rushing through our meals and skipping an important part of the digestive process—chewing!" gut expert Robyn Youkilis explained to me earlier this year. "When you don't chew your food completely, it creates more work for your belly, which can result in uncomfortable bloating, gas and other digestive symptoms."
6. Reach for a Potassium-Rich Snack Before Bed
But remember to keep it to at least two hours before bed, or just add one of your favourite potassium-rich foods into dinner. According to Patricia Raymond, MD, foods rich in potassium, like bananas, avocados and sweet potatoes, may help regulate fluid retention, which will also help manage—and minimise—morning-time bloating.
7. Don't Carbo-Load at Dinner
Or at least, choose wisely, avoiding refined carbs and minding your portion size. Raymond also notes these types of carbs can cause you to retain water and feel bloated. Thus, if you want to wake up feeling light and lean, reach for a carb that's satiating but features complex (aka longer-burning) carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, or sweet potatoes.
8. Swap Out Salt for Spices
"In Ayurvedic and Asian medicine, the digestive system runs on the fire element. Thus, foods and herbs that support warmth and strength in this area are highly valued and encouraged," explains Snyder. "Some of these include ginger, cayenne pepper, lemon, cinnamon, and others. Table salt is really de-natured sodium chloride salt. It's dead, kiln-dried, highly processed, and will also create 'false fat,' making you look bloated and up to nine pounds heavier than you truly weigh."
However, Snyder does go on to say that in addition to substituting spices for table salt, small amounts of high-quality salt that has still retained trace minerals is okay. But again, she doesn't recommend being heavy-handed with your sprinkle.
9. Put Your Gym Clothes On
Even though our natural inclination might want to lead us to our beds (and not the gym), getting up and moving (even if it's just a brisk, 20-minute walk) can help ease the discomfort of bloating and help spike your digestion. That said, if you're in want of a quick de-bloating remedy, Bebe Ding, fitness expert and co-founder of CruBox recommends completing as many rounds of these four exercises in eight minutes as possible and repeating the routine twice.
Exercise One: 30 high knees (Drive your right knee up toward your chest and switch to your left knee, one foot on the ground at a time.)
Exercise Two: 10 tuck-jumps (Kick off the ground with both feet as hard as you can simultaneously, driving both knees up toward your chest.)
Exercise Three: 20 slow ab bicycles (With your back on the ground, hands up behind your head, take your left elbow to meet your right knee in front of your chest. Switch sides slowly and make sure you extend the lower leg out fully, two inches above the ground. Switch left and right approximately every two seconds.)
Exercise Four: 20 fast ab bicycles (Speed up your bicycles, switching left and right in one second.)