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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Salmon is by far my favourite omega-3 source, and if you’re a salmon fiend as well, I think you’ll enjoy these:
- Sweet Grilled Salmon with Pineapple Salsa
- Shiitake Mushroom and Broccoli Stirfry with Ginger Poached Salmon
- The Sea Goddess Bowl
- Maple Glazed Grilled Salmon
- Baked Salmon with Creamy Lemon Dill Pasta (made with zucchini noodles)
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.
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.
- 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.
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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!