7 Ways to Banish Belly Bloat
Eat slowly and chew your food well.
“Eating fast can cause you to swallow air, which expands the belly like a balloon,” says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, author of Slim Down Now. “And chewing well reduces food volume so it takes up less space in the stomach, and prepares food for digestion.” Simply slowing down at the table can lessen post-meal bloat immediately.
Opt for small, but frequent meals.
“These are easier for your body to handle and digest well,” says Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, author of FlatBelly365. He recommends eating every three to four hours, which could mean four to six times per day—it all depends on your sleep schedule. Eating more frequently can also stabilize your hunger. The key is to make sure your meals are indeed smaller so you don’t consume more calories than you burn.
Ditch carbonated beverages.
Flavored seltzer has come a long way—there are so many great flavors now and you can even make them at home. “Unfortunately, the bubbles that give sparkling drinks their fizz fill your digestive system with gas, which can cause it to expand and pooch out a bit,” says Sass. “Make plain water your drink of choice and add a bit of fresh grated ginger, mint or cucumber, which all naturally help combat bloating and provide flavor.”
Eat foods rich in probiotics and prebiotics.
“Probiotics are bacteria that keep your gut healthy, and help reduce bloating by improving digestion,” says Villacorta. “They can be found in yogurt, kefir, aged cheeses (like Parmesan), and fermented vegetables like kimchi, sauerkraut and some pickles.” The catch is that you also need prebiotics—non-digestible carbohydrates that probiotics feed off. Avocados, mangos, oats, onions, leeks, sweet potatoes, prunes, asparagus and garlic are rich in prebiotics.
Limit gum, mints and straws.
“Chewing gum, sucking on mints and drinking through straws are all habits that cause you to swallow more air and swell your belly,” says Sass. “Halting them can give you a flatter looking belly within 24 hours.” And if that isn’t enough, saying no to straws is also great for the environment.
Eat more papaya and ginger.
“Papaya contains enzymes like papain, which boosts the breakdown of food in your digestive system so efficiently that it’s often put into digestive supplements,” says Villacorta. As for ginger, most of us know it can reduce nausea, but it has been shown to aid digestion by promoting motility in the intestines. “This means it gets things ‘moving’ in your digestive tract, which helps prevent gas and, yes, bloating,” says Villacorta.