Ah, bloat — the age-old problem that prevents us all from feeling confident in pencil skirts and bathing suits alike. We’ve talked about how to get rid of it once you have it, but it’s 2019 — health trends are all the rage, and “wellness” is the buzziest word of the year — there’s no reason we should have to deal with bloat at all! But preventing bloat doesn’t have to be more difficult than a few tips and tricks here and there — the only difference in your life will be that you rock pencil skirts and bathing suits without a second thought. Here are the easiest hacks to beat bloat and prevent it altogether:
1. Add Inulin to your Coffee
Inulin is a type of soluble prebiotic fiber that’s naturally found in certain plant foods. It’s been proven to beat boat because gut bacteria converts it into short-chain fatty acids, which improve digestion and relieve gas/constipation. If powders or supplements aren’t your thing, you can also eat a banana, which also contains a type of prebiotic fiber. Bonus for bananas: potassium also helps prevent bloat.
2. Slow down when you’re eating
Eating too quickly can disrupt your stomach, because your digestive system is not able to break down enzymes properly. Plus, quick eating can cause air swallowing that results in bloat. You’re actually supposed to chew your food about 30 times per bite, so that it’s mostly broken down before you even swallow. Most of us only chew an average of 5-10 times per bite (or inhale rather than chew at all if it’s really delicious pasta). Your saliva produces digestive enzymes to break down food, so even something as simple as chewing more and eating slower will prevent bloat, no matter the food.
3. Skip the straw
Remember that air swallowing? It’s a super sneaky factor that might be causing your bloat, and if the pace of your eating isn’t a problem, straws could be to blame. Hate to be a party pooper for all you reusable-straw enthusiasts (myself included), but you’re actually swallowing more air than you would be drinking straight from a cup. Looks like those new strawless Starbucks lids have more benefits than just for the environment!
4. Take a probiotic
Probiotics are always a part of our wellness routine to help everything from skincare to energy levels. But one of the best benefits of the buzz-worthy supplement is its ability to prevent bloat. Probiotics are basically good gut bacteria that heal a leaky gut and improves digestion, preventing bloat along the way. You can also eat foods rich in probiotics — like greek yogurt, kefir, kimchi, miso, or sauerkraut.
5. Drink more water (at the right times)
Drinking more water is the easiest and most powerful health hack for every part of your body, but it comes into play for preventing bloat by flushing toxins and waste out of the system. Adding lemon to you water is especially beneficial, as it aids digestion. However, drinking water during meals can dilute gastric juices (again with the TMI!), which negatively impacts digestion. If you do need to quench your thirst during meals, opt for room-temperature or warm water, which is much easier on the digestive system than cold water.
6. Go through certain stretches
While the only thing you likely want to do after a big meal is sit on the couch and watch Netflix, getting your body moving can help prevent that big meal from turning into bloat and painful gas. Spend 10-20 minutes going through stretches and yoga poses that help ease digestion — like downward dog or cat-cow. These movements are basically stretches for your digestive system, relieving stomach pain and bloat.
7. Limit sodium
I hate the idea of deprivation, so I am not telling you to never eat the foods you love (I mean, a life without Cool Ranch Doritos!? No thank you). However, highly-processed foods are typically low in fiber and high in sodium, aka a lethal combination for digestive irritation and bloat. When you do buy processed food, get in the habit of reading labels. Look for no more than 500mg of sodium, and use low-sodium hacks when eating out (like asking for light dressing on your salads or having low-sodium soy sauce with your sushi instead of traditional).
8. Try taking a charcoal pill or digestive enzyme after your meal
When you did overdo it on the sodium (or drank one too many margaritas) charcoal can bind to whatever is in the stomach and help flush it from our bodies, preventing bloat (and hangovers!). Likewise, digestive enzymes help break down hard-to-digest foods like gluten and dairy, as well as improve nutrient absorption. When you do eat foods that you know bother your stomach, or when a random bloat pops up, have a charcoal or digestive enzyme on hand to help your body break down foods.
9. Add ginger to your smoothies
Ginger is a natural diuretic, which helps your body flush out excess water and aids digestion issues. It’s one of our favorite go-to foods for preventing bloat and helping digestion, and it might even have instant effects on the body by easing any stomach discomfort. Add a slice of fresh ginger to your smoothies, water, or heat up ginger tea.
10. Eat more spices and herbs
While all spices and herbs have a wide range of potent health benefits, spices like cayenne pepper stimulate digestion and ease gas, and turmeric detoxifies the body and aids in inflammation. Herbs like cilantro also aid digestion and beat bloat, while mint is anti-inflammatory and soothing to the digestive system. Add some kind of spice or herb to every meal or even your drink of choice (I love a good bloat-busting combo of lemon, mint, and a pinch of cayenne pepper to add to my water).
11. Contract your abs
Oftentimes, bloat is less of an internal issue, and more about stomach muscles. Many people form the habit of contracting their diaphragm and relaxing abdominal muscles, making them look and feel bloated. Train your muscles to release your diaphragm and contract ab muscles by contracting for about 10 seconds at a time (but don’t hold your breath!). It’s the easiest exercise ever because you can do it anywhere, anytime — driving in the car, during your morning meeting, or every hour on the hour.