Q: How can I beat the summer bloat?
A: If you can barely button up your shorts even though you haven’t packed on the pounds, a bloated belly may be to blame. There are many possible culprits behind your suddenly swollen stomach, including overindulging in heavily fatty meals or too much diet pop. “Fat and protein take longer to digest than carbohydrates, so they will remain in the stomach longer. This can lead to a feeling of fullness and bloating after a high-fat meal,” explains Ilona Fordham, a registered dietitian based in San Diego. “And sometimes sugar alcohols like the sugar-free sweeteners in gum and soft drinks, such as sorbitol or xylitol, can lead to bloating.” Food sensitivities, such as lactose intolerance or a gluten allergy, can also have that uncomfortable “inflating” effect.
If you’re feeling bloated today but plan to sport a beachside bikini tomorrow, follow these tips from Fordham:
Skip the salty snacks. “Salt causes the body to retain fluid, which can make the bloating seem worse,” she explains.
Avoid high-fat fare. “Instead, eat foods that are usually easy on the stomach, like soups, rice and lean meats such as chicken and fish.”
Nix buffet-like portions in favour of small, frequent meals. “This decreases the amount of food that needs to be digested in one go,” Fordham notes, adding that for some people it can also help to avoid drinking while dining. The theory is that drinking dilutes the stomach acid, which slows down digestion.
Note: Persistent bloating can also be a symptom to more severe health concerns, such as ovarian cancer. Please consult your doctor.