(BlackDoctor.org) — Sick of tight waistbands? Well, unless you spend your days living on a deserted island, those cocktails, movie snacks, multiple dessert helpings, and fast food lunches can all add up to one thing: belly bloat.
“If you wake up bloated on Monday morning, your weekend food choices are likely to blame,” explains Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet. “In fact, overindulging for two days straight can easily cause a gain of three pounds. Fortunately, this weight gain is usually temporary and easy to get rid of in less than a week.”
To reduce the bloat and achieve a flatter belly, try the below tips:
1. Season Your Food Differently
You may be attracted to your saltshaker, but water is too. When you take in higher-than-usual amounts of the salty stuff, you’ll temporarily retain more fluid, contributing to that sluggish feeling, a puffy appearance, and extra water weight. Avoid salt, overprocessed foods, and salt-based seasonings. Gans suggests you also ditch the frozen microwaveable meals while you’re de-bloating—they’re packed with sodium. Instead, she recommends a simple turkey sandwich or a salad with chicken for lunch this week. And eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are packed with water.
Add zest to your dinner recipes with fresh herbs and salt-free seasoning blends such as the Original and Italian Medley Mrs. Dash.
2. Trim Down Carbs
Reduce your intake of heavy carbs such as bagels and pasta. When you decrease the carbs in your diet, you temporarily train your body to access stored carbohydrates called glycogen and burn them off, while also eliminating excess stored fluids.
Trim back on your daily carbs by having eggs for breakfast, making your sandwich open-faced with only one slice of bread, and packing protein-rich snacks such as turkey slices, low-fat string cheese, seeds, and nuts.
3. Switch Your Starch
If your belly bulges after a high-carb meal like pasta, complex carbohydrate-rich foods may be the cause of your bloat, says Jackie Wolf, MD, author of A Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Stomach. Most starches, including potatoes, corn, pasta, and wheat, produce gas as they are broken down in the large intestine. Rice is the only starch that doesn’t cause gas, so have a ½-cup serving of brown rice (which has more fiber) if you want carbs with dinners.
4. Say No To Milk
If you’ve ever felt gassy, crampy, or bloated after dairy, you may be one of 30 to 50 million Americans with lactose intolerance. This occurs in people whose bodies lacks the ability to break down and digest the sugar in milk, resulting in digestive issues like gas, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. Try lower-lactose foods (such as hard cheese or yogurt) or lactose-free dairy products (such as rice milk and almond milk), or take a lactase enzyme to help break down lactose. Dr. Wolf recommends soy milk as a dairy alternative but warns that some people experience gas and bloating from soybeans as well.
5. Make These Fruit Swaps
Wolf recommends you eat fruits that are kinder on your belly. Berries, grapes, and citrus contain a near-equal ratio of the sugars fructose and glucose, making them easier to digest than fruits with more fructose, such as honeydew, apples, and pears.
You can also eat canned fruits in natural juice or small portions of dried fruit, such as raisins and dried plums.
6. Hold The Hot Sauce