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Here are 6 healthy tips to beat the bloat and get a flat stomach, without doing a million crunches.
1. Reduce the stress
One of the number one factors in bloating has absolutely nothing to do with what you do or don’t eat. It has to do with your emotions and stress levels. “Higher stress levels means that cortisol (our stress hormone) increases and when it does our hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) decreases, making it very difficult to digest foods,” explains Melissa Ramos, a nutritionist ( sexyfoodtherapy.com), based in Toronto. Plus, stress can lead to cravings and emotional eating (like munching on those salt and vinegar potato chips, or finishing off two cupcakes). “A special focus should be made that it's not just about what you eat, but also your state of mind. Stress greatly impacts how we digest and if we become bloated or not!”
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2. Check your allergies
But pasta and cheese are your friends, you say? While gluten and dairy aren’t the most friendly of items to your body, most people can handle them, unless they have an allergy that can cause major bloating and discomfort (and get in the way of your flat stomach). “If it reacts with our system then it can cause immediate or delayed bloating in some,” says Ramos. If you suspect your bloating may be due to one of these culprits, get a proper test done with your doctor.
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3. Say goodbye to sugar
Put down the macaron. If you really want to beat bloating, thinking about how much sugar you take in each day. “Sugar 99% pure and can cause fermentation in our gut that can promote bloating,” explains Ramos. “You can replace it with alternatives like stevia.” Your afternoon pick me ups of cappuccinos with sugar and biscotti could be causing your stomach to puff out more than you think. Another tip when it comes to sugar? “Avoid combining high-sugary fruit with protein. The sugar can ferment protein in the gut,” advises Ramos.
Read on for 3 more ways to beat bloating and get a flat stomach on the next page ... 4. Eat this, not that
Once you stop the sugar indulgences, you can also eat some foods to help prevent, or cope with bloating. “I would say that water with unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is a great start,” suggests Ramos. “It helps to kick start the digestive system. Another great option is digestive bitters in herbal tincture (liquid) form. Taken 10 minutes before meals, it can really help digestion.” Other great food options to snack on? Celery to help ease bloating if it has been caused by salt, and lemon water is a “great way to alkalinize the body if it's bloated and acidic from eating too much sugar,” says Ramos. Above all, be mindful when eating – not just with what you eat, but also how quickly you eat, since eating fast can also cause bloating.
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5. Avoid ice water
“The main offenders of bloating are gluten, dairy and sugar. But cold water can also indirectly cause bloating because it weakens our digestive fire (hydrochloric acid), making it difficult to digest,” explains Ramos. “So as a rule of thumb I always tell people never to drink ice cold water before their meals.”
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Hitting up the gym might seem like the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling uncomfortable from bloating, but a good dose of exercise will help smooth down your stomach faster. “Exercise can help to move energy in the body if the bloating is caused from eating too much food,” explains Ramos.