Feeling like you’ve suddenly turned into an inflated balloon that could fly away at any minute is really not that fun, but it’s very common. You may even think you’ve packed on four pounds overnight since your favorite jeans refuse to zip. Don’t panic, because you probably haven’t.
“Bloating and actual fat gain often feels the same, so it’s easy to confuse the two,” says Abby Langer, R.D. “But they really aren’t—fat is different from gas and water, which are what often contribute to bloating, and fat comes onto your body much more slowly.” So we’re not talking about extra pounds of stomach fat, but the temporary abdominal distention that plagues most people from time to time.
Statistics say that about 16-30% of people report that they regularly experience bloating, so this is a widespread experience. But what does it mean exactly? Bloating is the condition of your belly feeling swollen after eating. It is usually caused by excess gas production or disturbances in the movement of the muscles of the digestive system. This can cause increased pressure and discomfort, and can sometimes make the stomach look bigger.
Beware of another common mistake: bloating is not the same as water retention, but the two terms are often used interchangeably. As Michael Jensen, MD, an endocrinologist and obesity researcher at Mayo Clinic, says, “Unless your stomach bloating is caused by a medical condition such as liver or heart disease, the only real cause is intestinal gas, not water weight. It is a myth that bloating in the stomach is from fluid accumulation in healthy adults because the abdomen is not a place where fluids accumulate first”.
Bloating can often cause pain, discomfort and that “stuffed” feeling, but it can also make you look heavier. Although bloating is sometimes caused by serious medical conditions, it is most often caused by your diet and foods or ingredients your body does not tolerate well. Many flat-belly remedies are advertised, so how do we know which ones are worth the effort? Let’s see what the experts recommend.
Choose Your Fruit Wisely
The popular saying “we are what we eat” is actually very appropriate in terms of eliminating bloating. So first of all, be careful of what you eat. Pretty much everything in the produce aisle is good for your health, but not all fruits and vegetables are the right choice. For example, fruits like cherries, peaches, grapes, and mangoes can bloat you even though they have plenty of excellent nutritional benefits. These fruits are healthy, but they naturally have a lot of sugar or sugar alcohols. Choose blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, and oranges, which have less sugar content. They are also packed with water, which can help with the debloating.
Worst Vegetables to Debloat
Ultimately, cutting back on gas-producing foods is the best way to combat bloat. Kale, broccoli, and cabbage are cruciferous vegetables which contain raffinose, a sugar that remains undigested until bacteria in your gut ferment it, which produces gas and, in turn, makes you bloat. Legumes such as beans, lentils, soybeans, and peas are gas-causing foods. These tiny veggies are basically bursts of protein in a pod, but they also contain sugars and fibers that our bodies can’t absorb. It’s a good idea to combine legumes with easily digestible whole grains, like rice or quinoa, so that your body will eventually get used to them.