Beating Belly Bloat

I was reading one of the popular women’s health magazines recently and came across the article, “Nine Ways to Beat Belly Bloat.” Some of the ways mentioned were viable, such as “Wear Shapewear” and “Avoid Beer” (duh), but some of the other suggestions were totally bizarre, almost like they were trying to puff up your waist for their enjoyment. A couple that come to mind were “Drink Milk,” (which I feel was a tradeoff plug since they had a full-page “Got Milk” ad three pages down) and “Opt for an Empire Waist.” I don’t know if you saw the pics of poor Jessica Simpson trying to rock high-waisted jeans, but the press ate her alive saying she gained an amazing amount of weight. I really think the majority of the weight was just the disproportion of the jeans to her body and the rest of her outfit (I’m rooting for you, girl).

So, to set the record straight, I wanted to create my own “Beat Belly Bloat” list. The first two on my list have profoundly changed my life as well as my entire shape. I can be a self-proclaimed expert in bloat just because I am a woman. I don’t need any other reason.

1) Cut out faux sweetener.

Just like faux leather and shiny lamet, it is not flattering to your shape. I used to be a Splenda addict. We are talking about a 12-packet a day Splenda habit. How did I use so much Splenda? Well, because I used it so often, my taste-buds began to change. Splenda is 100 times sweeter than sugar so things were never “artificially sweet enough.”

I broke the habit using a couple different tactics. 1) I stopped eating the things I would usually put Splenda on for a while and made healthy substitutions (like eggs instead of cereal) 2) I used my Count Me Healthy bracelet to count sweetener packets. It kept me accountable. 3) I replaced my Splenda with Stevia (a natural sweetener) and I use it sparingly because I’m not that crazy about the taste. Over time, my taste-buds changed and things didn’t have to be so sweet. Seriously, once I kicked this packet habit there was a profound difference in the shape of my stomach when I look at myself in the mirror from the side. It was always frustrating, because I would do pilates three-times a week, along with cardio, and my stomach would still bulge. Now, I am often “tummy bulge-free” and lovin life.

2) Cut Out the Sodium

This is nothing new and you’ve heard this a million times. However, personally, salt was the ying to my Splenda yang. As I started to crave more sweet I also started to crave more salt. It’s like my tastebuds were dull. I put salt on everything. I tried to reduce my sodium by using Spike or light salt, but light salt is still bad if you dump it on your food like a Michigan snowfall.

I broke this habit in tandem with the Splenda break-up. I have replaced light salt with Spike’s salt-free version. It is a godsend. It consists of dehydrated herbs and spices that give an awesome flavor to everything. If you don’t care for salt-free Spike I won’t hold it against you, there is also “Dr. Bragg’s Seasoning” or Trader Joe’s “21 Seasoning Salute” (my sister’s go-to topper).

3) Kick the Diet Soda

Again, you’ve probably heard this, but I’m going to put a little spin on it. Yes, we should avoid soda due to aspartame and carbonation, but I think that the artificial caramel color in Diet Coke, Diet Dr. Pepper, and all other dark sodas coats your gut and causes it distress.

Sometimes I crave “just a sip” of Diet Coke and I will grab one from the fridge, crack the top and have a drink. Then I put it back (much to the annoyance of my husband who drinks diet coke on a regular basis and reaches for the flat ones I opened for “just a taste”).

4) Sugarless Gum

Again, the artificial sweetener in the gum is a bloat booster, but you are also creating air bubbles and pushing them into your stomach whenever you chew gum. If my breath doesn’t feel fresh and gum is the only thing handy, I chew a piece for a minute and then discard. I actually prefer those new mini, go-anywhere toothbrushes from Colgate.

5) Hydrate

Not only is water great for the skin, it also helps us with constipation (yes, I’m discussing bowel movements here… good times). If we are constipated, we bloat. People are always saying “eat more fiber.” I agree with this, but they must match it with water intake. It’s like getting wise about Calcium and Vitamin D. If you want calcium to be accepted by the body, you need sufficient Vitamin D. Water moves waste through the system. Nothing is worse than eating a ton of fiber and not drinking enough water to make it smooth. I make sure that I use one of my three bracelets (I wear a sassy stack) to count water. I aim for 8 bottles a day (bottles, not glasses).

I would love love to hear some other Bloat Busting moves. Herbs from Africa? A special apple pectin from the remote mountains of Switzerland you heard about from a friend’s friend who lives in LA? Bring it on. And as always, keep counting.

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