Your favourite jeans suddenly feel too snug, and your once-sexy stilettos are now cutting off the circulation to your ankles. Whether it’s a full stomach, swollen feet or puffy face, we’ve all felt the discomfort of bloating that can leave you feeling more like Homer Simpson than Jessica Simpson. Here are a few strategies to beat the bloat:
1. Cut down on sodium
Health experts recommend we get no more than 2,300 mg of salt per day—but most of us consume way more than that. Too much sodium causes your cells to act as sponges, holding onto water and swelling. Avoid pre-packaged foods, which contain large amounts of sodium in order to prolong their shelf life. Potassium counterbalances sodium, so if you’ve overindulged on the salt, try eating potassium-rich foods like avocados, edamame, papaya, spinach, squash, bananas, dried apricots and raisins.
2. Drink up
While drinking water when you’re already retaining water may be the last thing on your mind, it’s precisely what you need to do. Water flushes out your system, and if you’re not drinking enough, your body will hold on to what’s already there.
3. Track what you’re eating
Some foods, such as beans, cabbage and cauliflower, are well-known causes of gas and bloating. However, some of us have bloat-inducing food sensitivities—common culprits include lactose (milk sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and high-fibre foods. Pay attention to your triggers and adjust your diet accordingly. For example, if dairy bothers you, switch to lactose-free substitutes. If you eat a lot of fruit or fibre, try spacing out your servings so that you’re not eating too much at one sitting.
4. Take it slow
Eating too quickly can cause you to swallow air, leading to a build-up of bloat. Other factors: stress, smoking, talking while eating, chewing gum and drinking through a straw. Carbonated drinks will also increase your air intake, as they cause air pockets to form in your digestive tract. Make sure you eat slowly, sip your drinks, and avoid gum, cigarettes and carbonated beverages.
5. Get up and move
If your job or school schedule forces you to sit most of the day, you may find that your feet and ankles are swollen by the time dinner rolls around. Go for a walk at lunchtime or during your breaks to keep the blood flowing. Exercise can also help to move food through the digestive tract, so walking or stretching after a meal can make you feel a lot better than sitting at your desk checking email.