By Keri Glassman, MS, RD
There is nothing worse (okay, this is a little dramatic, but it really sucks!) than feeling bloated. Enter: anti-bloat foods.
Whether you’re headed to Turks & Caicos, your ten-year reunion is three days away, or you’re simply at home watching Netflix, it doesn’t matter—bloat is something we want to avoid. Forget about how bloat looks on us, what’s worse is how it makes us feel.
I want you all to feel great, which is why we’re going to talk about what causes bloating and what to eat when you’re already bloated (AKA when it’s time to add “non-bloating foods” to your plate).
Why You’re Feeling Bloated
So, what is bloat, exactly?
A little nutrition 101 for you: Bloat is a buildup of gas in the abdomen, usually caused by digestion or swallowed air. Feeling bloated can result from an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. This bacteria ferments food, creating gas that causes bloating. In other words, you feel like you’ve been blown up like a balloon.
Water retention is similar to bloating. You know the feeling: You can’t get your rings on, and your eyes look like you’ve been in a brawl. This lovely (not!) feeling is usually caused by consuming foods high in salt (beware of processed foods). High levels of sodium cause your body to hold onto extra fluid.
Not only can bloating and water retention be uncomfortable and less than attractive, they can be downright painful. If you plan on debuting your new bikini but feel puffier than the Michelin Man, I’m here to help. My favorite anti-bloat foods can help with both of these troublesome problems.
What to Eat When You’re Feeling Bloated
Celery and Fennel
These crunchy veggies act as diuretics, helping you to flush out the excess water you’re retaining. (Buh-bye, bloating.) Toss celery in your salad for extra crunch or snack on some with spicy salsa. Roast fennel as a change from broccoli or make it the star of your next crudite.
This long and lean veggie has certain compounds that act like probiotics (healthy bacteria), which aid in digestion. Add some lemon juice and fire up the grill to turn these tasty veggies into an easy and slimming side dish. Another fave is to simply blanch ’em and use as an in-between-meals filler instead of carrot sticks.
This anti-inflammatory food also has anti-spasmodic qualities. Studies show that it has debloating properties too. Try grating it into your favorite marinade, topping a simple piece of grilled fish to add a little zing, or add it to your lemon water.
Peppermint, Ginger, or Chamomile Tea
These teas can help food to pass through the stomach and relieve gas. Sip on your choice of iced or hot tea with a slice or two of lemon or ginger. And make it a daily ritual.
Regardless of choosing whole-fat or low-fat (we recommend whole-fat!), yogurt gives you a dose of beneficial bacteria, which helps keep your digestion efficient. If you still you don’t like the idea of plain yogurt, get creative and add canned pumpkin, natural peanut butter, or shredded coconut.
This sweet treat has an enzyme called papain, which aids digestion and the breakdown of protein. Thinly slice this fruit and couple it with a thinly sliced piece of grilled chicken for a mini meal, or cut it into cubes and top with shredded coconut for a sweet treat.
Not just for piña coladas, this tropical fruit contains bromelain, a digestion-promoting enzyme. Toss some freshly sliced pineapple rings on a hot grill to dress up a chicken breast or eat them as a delish and healthy dessert.