7 Tips to Avoid Bloating This Summer
Almost everyone experiences bloating at least once in their lives. If you’re lucky like me, it always seems to sneak up just as I’m leaving for a weekend at the beach. Bloating. Is. Not. Fun. It’s uncomfortable and inconvenient. Often people believe they need to do some extreme 5-day juice cleanse or “detox” themselves to get rid of their bloating. Good news - our body already does this for us (you the real MVPs, liver and kidneys). However, there are things we can do to help our body do its thang!
What elicits bloating varies from person to person, and so may your remedy. With that said, if you experience chronic bloating you should contact your doctor, as this may be a sign of a bigger issue. Below are some basic tips that may help prevent or alleviate occasional bloating.
1) Manage Stress - I know you probably were not expecting to be reading about stress in a blog post pertaining to bloating, but hear me out. Managing stress levels is often overlooked as a strategy to help alleviate digestive issues, such as bloating. If you are familiar with the gut-brain connection, you may understand why I listed this as number one. In the absolute simplest terms: the brain can affect the gut and the gut can affect the brain (here is a blog post that digs a little bit more into this connection). This means that a stressed-out mind may be the culprit (or one of the culprits) of impaired digestion / bloating and vice versa.
So, how do we fix this? We can’t just eliminate stress completely. It is inevitable. I have yet to meet a person that lives a stress-free life (If y’all know anyone, send them my way. I’d like to switch brains with them.) Life is down-right stressful sometimes and the diet culture we live in has created even more stress around eating. Now, couple that with the added stresses of summer, such as traveling or societal pressures of how you’re “supposed” to look at the beach. Whew. I’m literally stressed out just typing it. Finding ways to manage your stress (or, as I like to say: stress better) is SO important and highly individual. Find something that works for you. A few of my favorite stress relievers include: massage, yoga, meditation, being outdoors, deep breathing, writing, or just simply doing nothing.
2) Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! - Staying hydrated is important for a multitude of reasons, especially during the summer, as we typically sweat more. Drinking water and eating water-rich foods (lookin’ at you watermelon!) will keep things moving through the digestive tract, encourage regular bowel movements, and help prevent bloating! The amount of water a person requires may vary widely depending on many factors, but aiming for about 8-10 cups of fluid daily is a good place to start.
*Pro tip: Alcohol is dehydrating! If your alcoholic beverage intake increases (as it tends to do in the summer!), ramp up the H2O intake, as well.
3) Don’t overdo the sodium (aka salt) - Have you ever eaten a huge container of Chinese take-out and felt like a balloon? Sodium is typically to blame. Sodium can make you feel bloated and retain water. Summertime can mean lots of eating out or reaching for processed convenience foods that often have a good amount of sodium. If you have overdone it, reach for some potassium (hey bananas!) and stay hydrated. This will help flush the extra sodium from the body.
4) Getting Consistent Fiber - Summer is the perfect time to reach for fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies! Whole grains, ground flax, chia seeds, beans, vegetables, and fruit are all great foods that help to keep your digestive system working properly and avoid the dreaded bloat. BUT! Don’t ramp up your fiber intake too quickly, because you’ll end up with even more bloating. Start slowly, aim for consistency, and make sure to couple fiber-rich foods with fluids. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts) are infamous for inducing gas and bloating. Don’t write them off completely, as they offer many health benefits. However, if you’re experiencing bloating, it may be best to limit those types of veggies.
5) Watch the Fizz - I don’t know if it is just me, but warm weather equates to me craving more fizzy drinks. So, of course I indulge! However, I always listen to when my body has had enough because carbonated drinks such as soda and sparkling water can make you feel more bloated. The carbonated bubbles are air pockets that then build up in your stomach, causing bloating. If you choose to avoid the carbonation, opt for alternatives such as, homemade lemonade or plain water infused with fresh fruits.
6) Keep Moving - Movement helps keep things running smoothy through the digestive tract. Opt for movement that excites you! Even gentle movement, such as a walk around the block after a meal, can assist with proper digestion. Avoid lying down immediately after a meals, as this impairs the digestive process.
7) Slow Down - If you’re like me, summers are busy! Always trying to squeeze in lots of activities usually means running from place to place to place. Slowing down while eating can do wonders for digestion and bloating. Be mindful of how fast and thoroughly you chew your food. You also might find it helpful to forego the straw while drinking. They tend to cause you to suck in excess air with each sip, which, you guessed it, leads to bloating.
Remember to keep in mind that, like anything else, it's all about finding what works for you and your body. Happy de-bloating :)
** Follow my instagram for more lifestyle & foodie tips @kristimaey **