If you've got bloating so bad you think you might just pop, put an end to it today. Many people wake up with flat bellies, only to find that by the end of the day their stomachs are distended and painful. Fortunately, gastroenterologist Dr. Robynne Chutkan is sharing her expert plan to eliminate hidden causes of tummy trouble and beat your bloat.
Step 1: Start your day with an anti-bloat elixir
Many people are jinxing themselves right off the bat by reaching for bagels or sugary cereals first thing in the morning. These foods clog up your system and set you up for day-long gas buildup. Instead, get your system moving right away by blending together this fiber-rich elixir that helps food move through your digestive tract.
Aim to get 25 grams or more of fiber a day, but if you normally eat a low-fiber diet, start slow and gradually increase the amount. If you notice a little extra bloating at first, don't be deterred – most people's bodies will adjust to increased amounts of fiber over time.
Step 2: Supersize your lunch
Many people eat their biggest meal at dinner, but eating too late at night can cause a log jam in your gut. To help beat bloat, you should enjoy a three-course lunch instead. Make sure your lunch includes about 10 grams of fiber to help keep your food moving. Here's a good example of a fiber-rich, delicious lunch option:
- First course: Salad (add in all your favorite veggies and a light dressing)
- Main course: Grilled fish with sweet potato and a cup of steamed broccoli
- Dessert: A cup of fiber-rich fruits like raspberries and blackberries
Step 3: Eat a finely-chopped dinner and avoid leftovers
Now that you've had your supersize lunch, go for a one-course, easy-to-digest dinner. Big meals and big bites can be hard for our bodies to digest in the evening. Chopped food can facilitate digestion and leaves less empty space trapped in the belly. A bowl of chopped chicken, veggies and rice is a great option.
The second dinner rule is no eating leftovers. You may think you're doing yourself a favor by bringing home your leftover food for later meals, but allowing certain starches like pasta, rice and potatoes to cool and then reheating them can change their molecular structure and make them more likely to plug up your colon and cause significant discomfort.
Step 4: Cut out dairy
Unfortunately, to say goodbye to bloat, you may have to say goodbye to dairy as well. At some point in their lives, nearly 75% of people experience lactose intolerance, which may be permanent or temporary. A little bit of lactose intolerance can contribute a lot to bloat.
Here are some easy swaps for dairy lovers:
- Drink almond milk instead of cow's milk in your coffee, cereal, or smoothies
- Try coconut-milk ice cream instead of regular ice cream
- Try vegan cheese instead of normal cheese
It's important to make sure you're still getting plenty of calcium in your diet, but you have plenty of non-dairy options. Among them are salmon, sardines, mineral water, oranges, almond milk, sesame seeds and many nuts.
Bonus tip: Fennel seeds
If you need a quick remedy for sudden bloat, try fennel seeds. They help melt away gas bubbles and only cost pennies a pinch. Try chewing a half-teaspoon before every meal.
You can read more about busting bloat in Dr. Chutkan's book, Gutbliss: A 10-Day Plan to Ban Bloat, Flush Toxins, and Dump Your Digestive Baggage.