NO one likes to walk around with a paunch, whether it's large or small. Not only is it unattractive, but it can cause feelings of discomfort. However, dietician and nutritionist Jenelle Solomon says it's possible to stave off a bloated belly by avoiding certain food groups.
“Bloating is a condition in which the stomach gets puffy and feels full as a result of a build-up of air or gas in the gastrointestinal tract. This can be caused by a number of different things, including food and other lifestyle choices,” she said.
What types of foods can contribute to bloating? Solomon recommends moderation or avoidance of the following foods which can make you susceptible to bloating and flatulence.
“Fibre is very good for you; in fact, it helps to prevent painful experiences such as constipation. And while a little fibre helps, you want to avoid a high-fibre diet because it increases gas production in the intestine,” Solomon explained. So you ought to reconsider having fruits and a breakfast cereal rich in bran, oats or whole grain, followed by whole grain rice or bread-based lunch and a similar kind of dinner and snack. She suggests that what you can do instead is to have small portions of fibre over time.
Sweeteners are notorious for their role in causing bloating. In fact, sweeteners such as fructose can take quite a while to be digested, and at least one artificial sweetener, sorbitol, cannot be digested at all. This can contribute to bloating. Sugars and starches found naturally in some fruits and vegetables can also contribute to bloating, so you should monitor your intake of these kinds of fruits and vegetables. Some of them include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and other members of the cruciferous vegetable family — carrots, prunes, apricots, apples and pears.
If you are lactose intolerant, then you may have trouble digesting dairy products, and it's quite easy for you to become gassy when you consume anything like milk or cheese since they increase gas production. Solomon said that if you consume dairy foods and fear that bloating may follow, you can explore a number of enzymes such as lactaid, a supplement which is said to supply the body with the enzymes that process dairy products. She advised, however, that the best choice is to avoid these products altogether.
You can limit bloating if you reduce the amount of rich, heavy, fatty foods that you add to your diet. Solomon explained that fatty foods take a much longer time than other food groups – such as carbohydrates and protein – to pass through the stomach, and they keep the stomach feeling full much longer.
Beans and lentils (legumes)
Beans and lentils are considered highly gassy foods. These foods contain indigestible sugars called oligosaccharides. Solomon explained that these sugars may contribute to excessive gas production and bloating. These foods can also contribute to bloating because of their high fibre content.
A big contributor to bloating is water retention, which is often the result of a diet that is high in sodium, according to Solomon. When sodium levels are high, the body responds by demanding a higher intake of water, which is often retained in an effort to balance your electrolytes. While you may cook with very little salt, you need to check the nutritional labels on your next pre-packaged meal before making the purchase.
Avoiding an excessive intake of bloat-inducing foods may be the most effective solution for managing a puffy feeling in the belly. Solomon says this list is not exhaustive, so you should watch your body's reaction to certain kinds of foods, take relevant notes, and decide how to manage their inclusion in future meal plans. If you are already bloated, however, some natural bloat relievers that you can try include lemon (lime) water, peppermint, ginger, owing to their high potassium content, as well as coconut water.