Recently I participated in a water challenge where I committed to drinking a gallon of water every day for seven days. Something came up during that week for many, including me, was bloating. As in can’t get your pants buttoned bloated. It was quite frustrating considering we were expecting the exact opposite to happen! My hunch was that by the end of a week we’d be feeling a lot better (and we were) but, at first, the three months pregnant look wasn’t cute.
Fact is when you are not used to drinking so much water, and then you start consuming way, way more than you normally do, your body has to adjust. For me specifically, I wanted to eat a lot of salt, which didn’t help the matter. I don’t recommend that if you are trying to avoid the bloat, by the way, it’s pretty uncomfortable.
So, I’m going to give you some fun tips. Because when I was feeling desperately bloated, all I could think of was “how to deflate myself and fast.” Obviously, these suggestions aren’t long-term solutions or permanent fixes but they are actually all pretty healthy and not dangerous by any means.
Water is a natural diuretic and when it’s hot, it acts as a gastric stimulant (gets a sluggish gut moving.) Lemon is particularly good for flushing out your digestive and urinary organs by getting them work better so they can do their thing.
Also note, you don’t need to drink a gallon of water unless your weight calls for that. A better goal to aim for is actually half your body weight in ounces. Because if you keep drinking that much, it’s actually not so great for your electrolyte balance. But, since most of us were going into the challenge at least a little bit dehydrated, we probably needed that much water to get rehydrated.
In all honesty, I think if you cut out carbs in general for a day, you will probably get more noticeable results than just focusing on gluten specifically but certainly, if you cut out gluten you’re going to be cutting out carbs too. Remember, there are a lot of gluten-free carbs that we can eat and if your goal is to have a flat belly, you won’t get it by eating GF brownies, pasta, or bread. It just defeats the purpose.
What about the dairy? Around 70-75% of adults are at least a little bit, lactose intolerant. So, if you’ve been eating dairy especially, milk and cheese, you probably will notice a difference in the bloat factor. So, if you’re having a hard time getting your favorite pair of skinny jeans zipped up, why not? If you really want to look good because you’re going to a wedding or you need to go to a cocktail party and you want to look and feel better, it’s not going to hurt you to cut out some carbs and dairy for a couple days.
As in salt. Sodium really makes us feel more bloated and I learned this myself big time. I was craving salt because I drank a lot more than I normally do during the challenge and found myself at 10:30 in the morning eating tomatoes just so I could put salt on them. By that afternoon I was feeling really bloated and my rings were not wanting to come off because salt causes our cells to hold in more water. So, if you don’t want to feel that way and you want to feel less bloated and you want a flat stomach, then you’ve got to watch that sodium intake.
Fun fact – The average American consumes 6 to 7,000 milligrams of sodium per day and 85% of that comes from processed food, not table salt. Boxed foods are a major culprit, even those that are sweet, like boxed cake and brownie mixes. Don’t forget about boxed biscuit mixes and anything that sits on the shelf like crackers. If it sits on the shelf for more than a few days and lasts, it likely has sodium because it’s also a preservative.
Most things that are frozen will also typically have some added sodium for the same reason. If you’re looking at the label you don’t have to go for no sodium, just look for under 300 milligrams so you aren’t overdoing it.
Straws are popular these days. I rarely use them though. They actually cause you to suck a lot of air in and that can give you a lot of gas and can even cause pain. So can chewing gum and drinking soda. These sound like odd things that you probably never think about, but all of these little things actually make a big difference.
So, there you go. If you want to know about long-term solutions for a flat stomach, not just these quick little solutions, feel free to reach out to me.
P.S. If you’re looking for online support with like-minded women striving to live a healthier lifestyle, you may be interested in joining my free support group here.
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Jillian McMullen, RDN, CSOWM, LDN
FBS Member and Contributor