I know, just like all of you lovely ladies, that there is nothing more confidence-crushing than feeling really bloated. Whether you're about to go out, head off to work or trying to put on an outfit that would normally fit; despite the fact that bloating can sometimes be painful it's also really upsetting. That's why I have written below some tips and tricks you can use to beat bloating for good.
“It is a myth that bloating in the stomach is from fluid accumulation in healthy adults, because the abdomen is not a place where fluids accumulate first," - Michael Jensen, MD, Endocrinologist @ Mayo Clinic
Firstly, what is bloating and how is it caused?
In a nutshell, bloating is basically the temporary and forced expansion of your lower abdominal region. In other words it looks and feels like your belly is pushing itself out at the bottom. Although it usually looks and feels the same a lot of the time, there is actually a huge list of reasons why this could be happening.
The most common causes of bloating are;
- Hormones, periods and 'The Pill'
- Gas build up
- Food intolerances (allergies) or deficiencies.
These are the most common causes of bloating and you will see below, that some of them are actually linked in one way or another.
Who wants to know how to get rid of bloating?
It is really important to understand that dependent on the type of bloating you have, you may require different sorts of remedies. Keep reading to see what I recommend for each specific type of bloating.
1. Hormones, Periods and The Pill
There are a lot of things going on during your pre-, intra- and post-period cycle that can be responsible for bloating. This whole process is caused by hormones, and that's exactly what 'The Pill' is — typically a combination of oestrogen and progesterone. Rises in oestrogen, thickening of the uterine lining and water retention can all play a role in the "thick and full" bloated feeling we get during this time.
My period de-bloat tactics;
- Reduce salt intake. Excess salt can lead to fluid retention.
- Drink a little more water than usual. It seems strange I know, but drinking more water actually reduces the amount of bloating you can have.
- Try to avoid or minimise deep-fried food. This can affect the digestive process.
- Primrose oil (or tablet) can reduce the impact of hormonal fluctuations during this time which we now know can add to bloating.
- Supplementing with standard dosages of zinc and magnesium daily can help to regulate hormone activity.
2. Prevent Gas Build up
Everyone has gas. Yes you read right, everyone! Except, most women are afraid to admit it. Firstly, having gas is not a bad thing, it's completely normal, but it can be increased as a result of eating the wrong food or even swallowing too much air while drinking or eating. This doesn't necessarily mean farting all the time though. Sometimes the build up of such gas can be painful, uncomfortable and obviously a little smelly. Whether you let gas build up, or it builds up by itself, it is definitely a frequent cause of bloating in many people.
Things you can do to avoid this are;
- Drink peppermint tea with meals as this has a natural "anti-gas" effect
- Stay away from overly hot beverages.
- Stop drinking in a rush through straws as this can cause excess air to be swallowed.
- Don't eat too much or too fast in one sitting, thus force-feeding yourself. Try eating smaller portions more often and remember to eat more slowly.
- Medication such as headache or pain relief can cause gas build up, especially when taken on an empty stomach. Try to have these types of medication with food and keep at realistic and safe dosages.
3. Maintain Hydration
Did you know, being dehydrated can cause bloating, rather than having too much water? If you feel like your body is holding onto water, it is very likely it is doing so for a reason. If you don't give your body enough nutrients or fluid, it will typically hold onto what it has, as a "survival" method. So if you believe you're feeling water bloated, or are holding water in general, try to actually drink more bit by bit.
I like to use a "finance" example to explain this. If you earn only $1 a month, you will make that dollar last for as long as possible. It will be very valuable to you and you will hold onto it for as long as possible, you won't want to let it go.
Alternatively, if you earn $1,000,000 a month, you're more than happy to pass it on because you have an abundance. It is not necessary for you to hold onto every $1, because you have more than enough.
Your body is exactly the same, if it has an abundance of nutrients and also water, it is more friendly. Your systems will work better and not hold onto nutrients and water unnecessarily, which can cause bloating. It's better to have an abundance than a shortage.
Eight to ten glasses of water a day can help to keep your fluid levels up and will allow your body to keep the bloat away.
4. Be Aware of Food Intolerances, Allergies and Nutrient Deficiencies
Food intolerances, allergies and nutrient deficiencies can put a large deal of stress on your digestive system. An easy example is lactose intolerance and its general process. Lactose intolerance is where people have an inability or difficulty digesting lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products. If you have an intolerance for any food or nutrient, such as lactose, it will almost always cause symptoms such as bloating, flatulence and even diarrhoea.
Tips to avoid food intolerance or allergy-based bloating;
- Avoiding the food is obviously a good place to start.
- If the issue is an enzyme deficiency (such as lactase with lactose intolerance) try using an enzyme supplement that helps support healthy digestion.
- Organic Apple Cider Vinegar can help kick-start digestion so your stomach can manage your meal better and minimise bloating. Usually, 1 tablespoon in a glass of water before a meal can help with improving this.
- Consume alternatives. For example, lactose-free milk is a great alternative for lactose intolerant people.
Girls I know bloating can be confidence-crushing and it is definitely something that has, does or will affect us all. If it has become a large problem for you recently or it does in the future, try to use some of these basic remedies to help aid your bloating, flatten your belly and get you feeling confident once again.