You’ve been exercising hard and eating clean for weeks in order to get a flat belly. But, somehow, you still wake up feeling bloated and miserable. Whatever the reason may be—eating too much salt, that time of month or simply, bad food choices—here are some foods and dietary tips that can help reduce bloating:
Yoghurt is rich in protein, calcium and potassium. It also contains probiotics which help maintain a healthy digestive system. Choose plain low-fat, fat-free or Greek yoghurts as they contain less saturated fat, which can help improve blood cholesterol profiles. Avoid added sugar and sweeten yoghurt with your own fruits or flavours such as vanilla, cinnamon or a drizzle of honey.
Tip: Yoghurt actually contains less lactose than milk so is easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant.
Tart and sweet, kiwis are very rich in vitamin C, potassium and fibre. Regular consumption of this furry fruit has proven to have beneficial effects on immune function and gastrointestinal function. Research found that individuals with 'backed-up' intestines had their bowel function improved after just consuming two green kiwis a day for a month.
Many people think bananas are high in carbohydrates and therefore fattening. In fact, one medium banana contains only 105 kcal and 3.1 grams of dietary fibre. It is a great source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate your body’s sodium level and remove the excessive amount of water, making it an excellent way to counteract the excessive consumption of sodium from frequent takeaways.
If your bowels need a bit of a 'push', try dietary supplementation of flaxseeds of up to two tablespoons a day for a three-month trial. You can easily add flaxseed to breakfast cereals, yoghurts, soups or salads. Have a small glass (150 ml) of fluid with each tablespoon taken. Flaxseed oil does not contain any dietary fibre; however is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial to heart health.
Tomatoes contain fibre and potassium which can relieve bloating. They're also a source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may help protect skin from sun damage and reduce the risk of prostate cancer. The absorption of lycopene is greater from processed tomatoes (such as canned tomatoes, tomato paste, ketchup, soup and juice) than fresh tomatoes, so be sure to add some of that to your cooking (with oil, preferably) to maximise your intake.
Bonus tips to avoid the bloat:
Eat 5 or 6 small meals/snacks each day on a regular schedule. Do not skip meals!
Slowly increase the amount of fibre you eat to 25 to 35 grams per day. Choose whole grains (such as whole wheat, rye, oats, bran, and brown rice), seeds, nuts, and fruits and vegetables.
Drink plenty of fluids—aim for at least eight cups a day. You may need even more with higher amounts of dietary fibre, since fluids help your body process fibre without discomfort.
Limit your intake of gassy foods such as legumes and lentils, onion, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, leeks, sugar-free candies or chewing gum, and beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup or sorbitol.