Flatten That Belly – Fast!

wine bottles and wine glass
(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

If you love four-alarm food, lay off the Tabasco, barbecue sauce, and garlic for a few days while de-bloating. Spicy foods stimulate the release of stomach acid, causing irritation. Give dishes a flavor boost with in-season fresh or dried herbs such as dill, basil, mint, sage, tarragon, and rosemary. You can also use curry powder or lemon or lime juice—all perfect with fish or chicken. Also, steer clear of black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, chili powder, onions, mustard, horseradish, and acidic foods such as catsup, tomato sauce, and vinegar.

7. Ditch The Diet Foods

Avoid low-calorie or low-carb products containing sugar alcohols, which go by the names xylitol or maltitol and cause gas, bloating, and worst—diarrhea. And don’t reach for a stick of gum when you’re trying to quell that sugar craving. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth by using a little maple syrup on your morning oatmeal or yogurt snack.

8. Control Your Liquor

Steer clear of alcohol for the next few days to maximize your body’s belly-flattening capabilities. Alcohol causes dehydration and may slow your body’s ability to eliminate that excess weekend waste, so if you had a little too much to drink this weekend, start chugging the H20.

It’s best to eliminate that occasional glass of wine, beer, or hard alcohol this week while you’re on a skinny jeans crusade—all are high-acid beverages that can irritate your GI tract and cause swelling.

9. Do Some Activity Every Day

A study from Spain’s Autonomous University of Barcelona suggests that mild physical activity clears gas and alleviates bloating. That’s because increasing your heart rate and breathing stimulates the natural contractions of the intestinal muscles, helping to prevent constipation and gas buildup by expediting digestion. Take a short walk after meals or pedal lightly on a bike at the gym to help relieve bloat.

More Belly Bloat Remedies

If you want extra belly-flattening aids, consider one of these products to soothe your belly problems.

• Get gas relief with an over-the-counter product such as Gas-X.
• Try peppermint capsules to kill bacteria that cause bloat and aid digestion.
• Stay regular by increasing fiber with flaxseed or a fiber supplement such as Benefiber.
• Take a daily probiotic capsule. Dr. Wolf likes Align, Digestive Advantage Intensive Bowel Support, and Pearls IC Intensive Care Probiotics.

A definite belly-flattening “don’t” is weighing yourself every day, says Gans.

“Bloating is about how you feel. A lot of women will start weighing themselves daily—it’ll drive them crazy and could be discouraging. Go by how your clothes feel rather than letting the scale rule your week.”

Marriage Mistakes That Women Make

Anyone who’s married can tell you that getting through the marriage ceremony is easy. Staying happily married? That’s a different story.

While both men and women adopt behaviors that can challenge, even ruin, a great marriage, there are certain things that women in particular commonly do that can affect the health of their union.

Here are six common mistakes that can potentially hurt marriages:

1. Being too accommodating.

Some wives are too willing to give up on what they want, says Susan Heitler, PhD, a Denver-based clinical psychologist and author of www.poweroftwo.org, a marriage skills-building course.

Heitler calls it “appendage-itis,” in which the wife is basically being an accessory to the husband, instead of being a full and equal partner in the marriage.

Some women tend to be “all about him” rather than all about themselves, as men tend to be, Heitler says.

“Usually, they’re afraid it could make a fight or some unpleasantness, or they just think somehow, on a subconscious level, in order to preserve the relationship, they have to diminish what they themselves want,” she says. The sense of helplessness leads to anger that eventually boils over, she says.

Her solution? Express your concerns rationally, whether about housework or parenting duties, or about not getting enough time with your husband or for yourself. He may like golfing on weekends while she may want him around for family time, for example. “If she spoke up, they might be able to work out a better arrangement,” Heitler says. “Maybe they’d switch to a softball league in the summer where it would be a family event.”

2. Not being clear about expectations.

Couples that function the best in marriage have made their expectations clear from the outset about division of labor, parenthood, and money, says family and marriage therapist Eli Karam, PhD, an assistant professor of couples therapy at the University of Louisville.

But many couples don’t have those discussions and are operating on auto-pilot. “Lots of couples operate on what they assume in their head because they grew up that way, that if it works for them, it works for their partners,” Karam says.

Resentment can easily build if expectations differ or are dashed on the rocks of hard reality. For example, he says some women “think having a baby will change their husband or bring him closer. What we know about marriage satisfaction is that it takes a massive dip when the first child is born. If they knew that before marriage … it would help them navigate normal roadblocks and not freak out when it happens.”

3. Underestimating the effect of tone of voice.

No matter who’s speaking, man or woman, tone of voice can be an issue if it’s even tinged only slightly with negativity.

If you have concerns, Heitler encourages “verbalizing them in a respectful way,” rather than speaking in a frustrated, irritated voice.

By all means, discuss what’s bothering you. But do it in a way that searches for solutions and alternatives, rather than venting in a way that puts a peaceful solution further out of reach.

4. Mismatched communication styles.

If you feel you aren’t being heard by your husband, you may want to revisit your communication style.

Some women repeat their complaint or a concern a few times in an effort to get their husband’s attention. Some men may call that nagging, but it may just be about having different communication styles.

Karam calls it the “demand-withdraw” dynamic: One person wants a conversation, but the other hasn’t figured out how to respond or appears to have shut down, so the speaker presses further. “That’s a vicious pattern,” Karam says.

If that happens in your relationship a lot, remember to pause to let your spouse absorb what you’re saying and have “a chance to validate what they’ve heard,” Karam says.

It might be useful to take a hard look at what is fixed — personality quirks, for example — and what can be changed. Citing the work of marriage/couples researcher John Gottman, Karam says nearly 70% of marital problems are “perpetual,” meaning that these are entrenched issues that drag on.

The challenge is to recognize what can’t be corrected. It helps to “move toward acceptance,” Karam says. “You’re not going to change a cautious person into a risk-taker or an introvert into an extrovert.”

5. Not making yourself (and sex) more of a priority.

Whether it’s a hectic schedule, fatigue, or perhaps even guilt, many wives don’t make enough time for themselves. They look out for the health and care of everyone but themselves, and after running themselves ragged…aren’t very interested in, or are too tired or busy for, sex with their husbands. That’s a serious mistake, say Heitler and Karam.

“The reality is, what is best for everybody — for them, their spouse — is feeling great as a person and having a healthy sex life,” says Heitler. “It keeps the family a happy family. And what their kids need more than anything is parents who have a strong, positive bond.”

Karam says women need to build in time — and by extension, desire — to both take great care of themselves and to feel good about themselves, ensuring that they’re trying to do more of the things they want to do with their lives. In addition, it’s important for women to communicate to their husbands what they want and need to feel more in the mood for sex. Feeling sexy is a good way to start the process called intimacy, and that means a woman must make herself, her happiness, her desires and her health a priority.

“They can’t just drop everything and have sex with their husbands,” Karam says. “It’s a product of many other things, including taking care of themselves, spending time with their husbands out of the bedroom, and building up anticipation.”

“Generally, if you’re a woman, you have to prioritize self-care,” Karam adds. “If you feel good about yourself, you’re probably going to feel more sexual,” Karam says.

6. Forgetting to show their partner that they like them.

Some women get so focused on kids, work, and home that they forget to make the small gestures that go a  long way to solidifying their marriage.

“In healthy relationships, there are dollops of positivity, very frequently doled out,” Heitler says. “They can be smiles, eye contact, hugs or touching, or verbal comments that let your spouse know you care. Those gestures remind both partners that they like each other, and friendship is at the heart of successful marriages, Karam says. Married people often “operate on out-of-date knowledge of self,” he says, leading them away from true appreciation of their partners.

“It’s a myth that a good marriage sustains itself,” he says. “It’s learning yourself, learning your partner. What you are at 24 is not what you are at 34.”