Do you suffer from ‘balloon belly’ – that awful explosion in your tummy that leaves you feeling full, frustrated and fat? Don’t despair there are some simple and effective ways to beat balloon belly!
Leading gut guru and naturopath, Michèle Wolff, says bloating is usually caused by diet, lack of exercise, hormones or digestive disease, but can be addressed with a few simple remedies.
Author of the new book, Digestive Solutions, Ms Wolf says the main culprits in belly bloating are weak digestion, lack of digestive juices, parasites, fungus, food intolerances, fluid retention, small intestine bacterial overgrowth and gas.
“Regardless of the culprit, a healthy diet of anti-bloat foods can help battle your swollen stomach,” says Ms Wolff.
“If you pay attention to what you’re eating, you can usually prevent ‘balloon belly’ and if you do become bloated there are ways to de-puff your pouch.”
“Bloat-busting foods can help you quickly eliminate excess water and gas-producing debris that accumulates in the gut.”
Here’s how you can stay in bikini-ready shape all year long with these bloat-busting tips.
1. Don’t skip the sip
Don’t be fooled into cutting back on fluids when you’re bloated. Water is essential to reducing bloat. Aim to drink in-between meals rather than during meals to avoid diluting digestive juices, and avoid ice-cold water as it can slow down the digestive process. Warm or room temperature water will encourage proper digestion – even better if lemon is added!
2. Easy foods
Eat foods that are easy to digest.
Vegetables – take only 30-45 minutes to digest. Eat green leafy vegetables with every meal. Bitter leaves like rocket and endives assist with digestion and support the liver
Beans, grains & other starches – take 2-3 hours to digest. Soak them the night before, remove the soak water. The legumes will digest better and stop gas in your belly if you cook them with a kombu stick (seaweed) and/or a little cumin.
Meat, fishpoultry: Take 3 or more hours to digest. Incorporating lemon, apple cider vinegar and marinating meat with kiwi fruit and or lemon helps these digest more effectively.
Apple cider vinegar: Use apple cider vinegar (or lemon) and olive oil together as a salad dressing. Combine 1-2 tbsp. in 50mls of water sipped with meals helps digestion.
Lemon: Use lemon on lots of foods and in water to help digestion.
Bitter foods: Use bitter foods in your meals e.g. rocket, bitter melon, alfalfa, endives, artichokes, dandelion leaves, neem leaves, or any dark green leafy bitter vegetable.
3. Flat belly herbs
Incorporate the following herbs into your cooking as they are all digestive aids: ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, dill, oregano, thyme, liquorice and aniseed.
4. Moisturise the gut
Kudzu is a small, white root that helps to get rid of dryness in the body and supports good bowel function. Simply mix a teaspoon in cold water and drink it, or use it in cooking as an alternative to corn starch/potato starch. Kudzu also helps with wind and ulcers.
5. Good bacteria
Probiotics or good micro-organisms (flora) in fermented foods prevent the bad bacteria, nasty parasites and fungus from overtaking the gut and playing havoc with your health. These good micro-organisms can play a significant part in the recovery of irritable bowel, inflammatory bowel, bloating and poor digestion.
6. Wiggle it
Moving may be the last thing on your mind when you feel bloated but a little exercise after eating speeds the digestive process and significantly reduces bloat.
Increased activity will actually help kick-start your digestive system and raise your production of digestive enzymes. A gentle 15-minute walk about 45 minutes after eating will work wonders and try 5 minutes of half-sit ups a couple of hours after eating to really rev up your intestines.
Timing is important if you want to beat ‘balloon belly’. Eat regular healthy meals and eat at the same times of day to regulate your digestive system.
8. Slow down and relax
Your digestion starts in your mouth and chewing makes the stomach’s job easier. Avoid bolting down your food. Your stomach is not designed to digest large pieces of food, and you are more likely to get bloating, indigestion and discomfort if you do eat quickly. Create a calming atmosphere when you eat and after you have finished, sit for 10 minutes. Plan time to prepare, cook and eat your meals.
9. Posture makes perfect
When you slouch you put extra pressure on the digestive organs in your belly. This can cause poor digestion. It is best if you practice sitting with your shoulders back and your chin tucked in. This allows more room for your digestive organs and will help improve digestion.
Avoid eating after 7pm as this is when your digestion is weaker. When you eat late at night you don’t produce enough enzymes and other digestive juices to digest your food well. The food sits in your stomach and this can disturb your sleep, make you tired and bloated in the morning. It can also make you foggy in the head and grumpy.
Michèle Wolff is a leading health practitioner and a qualified naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and nurse, owner of Ultimate Detox Solutions www.detoxspecialist.com.au. Her new book ‘Digestive Solutions – 101 Proven Methods to Solve Your Tummy Problems Naturally’ is available from bookstores and good online booksellers. Visit www.digestivesolutions.com.au.