Changes I’ve made to tame a bloated belly – Part II

how to tame a bloated belly - part 2

Two weeks ago I talked about 5 changes I’ve made to help reduce bloating, a problem I’ve grown to be especially familiar with over the past couple of years. That post proved to be a very popular one, and it’s clear that I’m certainly not alone when it comes to this topic. As promised, I’ve got 7 more to share with you today.

peach and raspberries

Before we get started, I should mention that I am far from perfect and certainly still deal with a puffy belly from time to time. However, when it comes to the cause I’m typically able to narrow it down to doing the opposite of these tips.

If I’m feeling super stressed out, if I’ve eaten far too many raw or high-fiber foods, or if I’ve been chewing a little too much gum (yes, I know aspartame is bad), the effects are very noticeable. Stress was a key factor that I mentioned in part 1, and as I’m sure is the case for many of you, it continues to be a challenge. Having said that, my hope is that some of the ideas I’m about to list will help you tackle the bloating issue from a few other angles.

Without further delay, let’s get back to it.

how to tame a bloated belly - part 2

6. Get that bod in motion!

If you work at a desk for most of the day, do you ever notice that your digestion seems to hum along a lot better on weekends than it does on weekdays? Being at a desk means you’re sitting still (unless you’ve got a treadmill desk or standing desk, which isn’t the case for most folks), and this means your bowels aren’t moving around very much either. It’s the same reason that going for a walk or moving about after a meal can help to stimulate digestion, and since you probably can’t walk around all day while doing your job, aim to incorporate activity in spurts. In addition to some physical activity before or after work, take regular breaks to get up from your desk for water (remember, hydration was a tip in Part 1!), go for a walk at lunch, or do errands on your lunch break.

7. Eat slowly…

…and don’t forget to chew. Things becomes a whole lot more difficult and energy-consuming when food is swallowed without being broken down a bit first by your teeth and saliva. We’re all busy people, but if you’re pressed for time, eating might not be the greatest decision. For one, you’ll be consuming food a lot faster than normal which means your brain won’t have a chance to register that you’re full, and for another, you’ll probably swallow a lot of air which means bloating and burps after – yuck.

Exploding Burrito Bowl - Eat Spin Run Repeat

8. Soak nuts and legumes

This is an easy trick, but it helps to remove the phytic acid found on the outsides of these foods. Phytic acid is a compound that naturally occurs on the outsides of nuts and legumes as a protective mechanism for the plant, and soaking for a few hours (or ideally overnight) not only helps to remove it, but also decreases the amount of time you have to cook them for. Simply soak, drain, and boil as usual.

ingredients for Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burgers - Eat Spin Run Repeat

9. Get some ginger into your diet

Oh ginger, let me count the ways that I adore you. Guys, this is my go-to cure for everything from nausea to calming muscle inflammation, but it’s especially good for easing a bloated belly. Ginger contains compounds called gingerols and shogaols and has been used since pretty much forever ago to prevent digestive problems and cure a number of other ailments. Whether it’s stomach ulcers, abdominal pain, menstrual cramps, motion sickness or constipation (hopefully not all at once), ginger can help to treat them all.

fresh ginger

If I need a quick hit of healing goodness, I’ll juice a chunk of peeled ginger in my juicer (a good 2-3″ piece is my usual) and mix the juice with an equal amount of hot water. If it’s cold symptoms I’m dealing with, I’ll occasionally stir in a bit of raw honey, lemon juice, or both. It’s a lovely little cure-all cocktail and seems to do the trick every time.

If ginger just isn’t your thing, there are several other foods known for their digestion-soothing benefits including peppermint, aniseed, fennel, citrus fruits, dandelion and artichoke, and chamomile.

10. Eat healthy fats

Don’t confuse this with eating any sort of fatty foods, because those high in saturated fats can actually promote bloating and that’s definitely not our goal, right? As you may be aware, healthy omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation in general, but particularly in the digestive system. These fats also help to nourish the lining of the intestines, keeping them nice and lubed up so that digestion is (very literally) a smooth process! To get more in your diet, try adding cold water fish like salmon and sardines, nuts (especially walnuts), chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseed and flax oil to you meals.

Sweet Grilled Salmon with Pineapple Salsa - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Salmon is by far my favourite omega-3 source, and if you’re a salmon fiend as well, I think you’ll enjoy these:

11. Consider digestive enzymes or probiotics

I try to keep the number of supplements I take on a daily basis to a minimum and admittedly am not taking enzymes or a probiotic supplement at the moment, but these can be a really big help if you’ve been experiencing gut issues. Just be aware that some probiotic supplements need to be kept refrigerated, so be sure to read the storage instructions on the bottle.

12. Incorporate fermented foods (they’re not as scary as they sound)

Fermented foods help to increase the number of good bacteria in the gut and reduce the amount of phytic acid found in our foods. Remember the phytic acid I talked about earlier when we discussed soaking nuts and beans? It’s the same deal again. Phytic acid can reduce the amount of minerals we’re able to absorb from foods, particularly calcium, iron, copper, and zinc. As I’m sure you’ve heard, we’re not just what we eat, but what we absorb, and you want to maximize those nutrients, right? If so, fermented foods are your friends.

tempeh block

These guys come in many forms. One of my favourites is tempeh, which is made from fermented soybeans compacted together into a block. In my opinion, tempeh is much closer to a whole food than tempeh because it doesn’t undergo nearly as much processing. Other fermented foods include:

  • Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage
  • Kefir – This is a fermented milk beverage that reminds me a bit of kombucha (more about that in a second) with a milky base. It contains heaps of healthy bacteria to make your gut happy (provided you can tolerate dairy) and if you’re in Canada and looking for one to try, my favourite is Liberte Organic Plain Kefir. I wrote a review of it here.

Liberte plain kefir

  • Miso – a traditional Japanese paste made from fermented soybeans and barley or rice malt. It’s a great flavouring for broths (hence the very popular miso soup), as well as an ingredient that I often use in marinades for fish. It’s high in sodium, but a little goes a long way.
  • Kombucha – another one of my favourites, this delicious probiotic-rich bevvy is delicious and is made using a SCOBY, which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Sounds gross, but I promise the end result is so, so good. It’s fizzy (but not in a bloaty sort of way like diet pop) and contains 1% alcohol as a result of the fermentation process, but don’t worry – it would take a LOT of kombucha to get you tipsy! My favourite flavour is ginger…. are you surprised? 😉 You can find a tutorial for making it here.

rise ginger kombucha

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And that, my friends, is enough for one post! Just like last time, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have any additional tips or any strategies that have helped you overcome digestive issues? Feel free to share in the comments below, and have a fantastic day!

21 thoughts on “Changes I’ve made to tame a bloated belly – Part II

  1. I definitely feel the magic of exercise! It really kick starts the digestive system and is also great for cramps..so double win! 😉
    I have never tried ginger as a bloating remedy but I am dying to try it!
    As far as legumes I have also noticed that if I eat them cold they are better for bloating..but maybe it is just me…
    Kombucha..next on my list!

    1. That’s really interesting about the legumes, Elsie. I think you’ll like kombucha and if you’re into ginger too, go for a ginger flavoured one! I haven’t been brave enough to make it at home yet but plan to one of these days. Let me know what you think!

  2. Love all this belly bloat info. You would have been proud of me yesterday. I ordered a beet root frappe from Fresh and it had SO much ginger in it that my throat was burning!! Haha! It probably had enough ginger to last me to the end of 2014, not even kidding.

    Also – I’m probably the only person in the world that will say that I do NOT love kombucha. I’ve only had it once and was definitely not a fan…but maybe it was just a poor choice in flavour or something??

    1. Ooh I am SO proud of you! I’m actually super pumped because if we go there for lunch after STWM I’m totally getting the ginger fireball because it burns sooo good and makes everything better. Regarding the kombucha, I hear ya – my first trial was a disaster! I think it really depends on brand. So far, Synergy, Rise and Tonica have been my favourites but I’ve come across some nasty ones too. If you’re brave enough to give it another go, try the ginger flavour by Rise or Gingerade by Synergy. And if you don’t like those, then maybe you’re just not the kombucha loving type! 😉

  3. Kefir is something that keeps cropping up in my reading and although dairy sometimes is a bit troublesome to me, I think I am going to give it a try.

    I’ve been adding more fats, but I love the idea of ginger.
    This post is awesome. 🙂

  4. I love these! It always surprises me when I eat with a big group how fast the majority of people eat! It’s this fast pace always on the go lifestyle…which I am guilty of from time to time. I really love all of these! Another thing that has been helpful to me is Aloe Juice. I take a shot after meals. I make my own but they sell it at the store as well!

  5. Girl, we have the same belly. And I eat the same foods. Are we related? Ha ha I also love probiotics and colostrum. They truly help. Cheers to kombucha!

  6. Food combining and a high fruit low fat raw vegan diet CURED my bloating! deffinetly the leanest and healthiest I’ve ever been 🙂

  7. I’ve also been dealing with some digestive issues and have been working with a naturopath as well – one of the things she emphasized from the beginning was to NOT drink anything with meals because the liquid will dilute your digestive enzymes…I’m curious if you’ve heard that as well? She also said that many of her patients who come to her with digestive complaints have had significant improvements simply by taking three deep breaths before meals to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and aid in digestion, so now I try to remember to breathe before eating!

    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Megan! I definitely have heard the same thing and noticed that it really helped me not to chug as much water as I had been drinking previously during meal times. I still drink a glass or two, but not as much as before. From what I understand, the thinking is that too much fluid dilutes the stomach acids needed to break down the food you’re eating. I really like your naturopath’s recommendation about taking 3 deep breaths, especially since sometimes we don’t realize how fast we’re really eating! Not sure about you, but I’ve found that eating with others helps because you naturally take more pauses, set down your fork, and talk in between bites which helps to slow things down a bit. Now if only we could remember to slow down at every meal, right!? 😉

  8. I just read part one and part two and I feel like they could have been written by me! I’d been dealing with bloating and “puffiness” for quite some time until around the middle of summer. I knew of a few foods that bothered my stomach, but occasionally they did and occasionally they didn’t so I found it really tough to pinpoint what was causing everything.

    After working with a holistic nutritionist I overhauled my eating habits over the summer and made a lot of progress. I’ve stuck with many of the changes, but have also incorporated some of my old ways of eating back into my life and I’m finding they don’t bother me like they used to.

    The body is such an ever-evolving, confusing, yet fascinating thing!

    1. That’s great that you’re seeing some progress, Ariana! There are so many things that affect the gut and as I’m sure you’ll agree, it can be difficult to nail down the source of the problems. Sounds like you’re on the right track!

    1. Hi Megan! Yep, you certainly can steep ginger in boiling water, or buy ginger tea! If you like to eat stir fries, you can just use a lemon zester and grate fresh ginger root against it, straight into the wok. There’s ginger kombucha, as well as these amazing little ginger sweets that I always take with me on flights to prevent nausea. My favourite brands are Chimes Ginger Chews (http://www.chimesgourmet.com/) and The Ginger People (http://gingerpeople.com/) – both of them make amazing, totally addictive products! And lastly, if you like making smoothies, you can just put a chunk of peeled ginger in and blend it along with everything else. Hope that helps!

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