The Jakarta Post
From simply changing a few things about what and how you eat, you can easily work your way to a flatter, less bloated stomach. (Shutterstock/Thunderstock)
According to experts, eating every three or four hours will help reduce your appetite and flatten your belly by reducing bloat.
From simply changing a few things about what and how you eat, you can easily work your way to a flatter, less bloated stomach, according to Reader's Digest:
1. Pace yourself
“You tend to swallow more air when eating fast and that can cause bloating,” said Alissa Rumsey, spokesperson for the United States-based Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Your digestive system has its own pace for how quickly it can process food; from your esophagus sending food to your stomach, your stomach grinding the food up, to how long the stomach acid dissolves the nutrients to send to your blood.
According to another spokesperson from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Jessica Crandall, taking your time can be made easy by putting your utensils down between bites, and/or counting to 20 before swallowing.
It is generally believed that the human brain takes between about 20 to 30 minutes to realize how much food is in your stomach and to signal that you are full. This means that eating food hastily in 15 minutes will make you think you are still hungry.
Read also: Why eating while on the move is a bad idea
2. Drink lots of water
“A lot of people refrain from drinking more water if they’re bloated, but you actually do want to continue drinking more water throughout the day,” said Torey Armul from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
This will be a common tip to hear for anyone looking to turn to a healthier diet. However, staying hydrated is incredibly important.
Water can help you feel full and it is essential for flushing out high amounts of salt you may ingest, which can reduce water weight and flatten the belly.
“It helps to restore fluid balance,” Armul added.
3. Avoid carbs, have yogurt and bananas for breakfast
“[High-carbs and high-sugar foods] are digested pretty rapidly, and then your blood sugar spikes up and drops back down pretty quickly because they digest so fast,” Rumsey said.
Carbohydrates retain water in your body, which can also cause your belly to bloat. On top of this, because these foods are digested so quickly, you will likely be looking for food within the next hour or so, according to Rumsey.
Avoid foods like bagels, bread and cereal. Instead, look for plain or Greek yogurt with live cultures to help the good bacteria in your digestive system, which will prevent bloating. Yogurt also contains a lot of protein, which will make you feel full.
You may also add fiber-rich oats, berries and chia seeds, but Crandall advises against adding too much.
“If you’re not used to that amount of fiber, it can cause gas. But if you work up to it slowly, it promotes a healthy gastrointestinal system,” she said.
Be mindful of your portions and increase your water intake alongside your yogurt-based breakfast to avoid possible symptoms like diarrhea and even more bloating. Adding in bananas for a potassium kick is also beneficial, aside from making your breakfast taste better.
“By eating more potassium, you can help reduce bloating,” Armul said.
Potassium intake also has other benefits, such as relieving high-blood pressure. Aside from eating bananas, eggs (moderate your salt intake in case you are scrambling them), tomato and spinach are also other good sources of potassium.
4. Choose a colorful and healthy salad for lunch
“Have some carbs, but not too much,” Crandall advised.
There are a variety of salads on offer. However, not every salad is made equal. Dressings should be lower in sugar and salt; check the nutritional value of the dressing you plan to use on your veggies and fruits.
Papaya and avocado salad, watermelon and feta or potato with horseradish dressing are just some options to choose from.
What vegetables you eat and how you eat them are also important. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and peas “take you longer to digest, which will make you feel bloated,” Rumsey said.
Other vegetables like broccoli and cabbage could also cause gas, according to Crandall. To avoid this, she recommends tomatoes, capsicum and mushrooms as alternatives.
The extra fiber in any skin on a fruit or vegetable you can keep on is good, as Armul said it is slow digesting and really nourishes the gut.
5. Don’t be afraid to have afternoon snacks
“If you wait too long or build up this intense hunger, you’re more likely to choose convenient foods and more likely to overeat at the next meal,” Armul said.
A mid-afternoon snack will help you curb your hunger and the portion you may end up eating at dinner. Consider having cheese and an apple occasionally as afternoon snacks, as cheese contains calcium, which will make you feel full, and the nutrients in apples are a good boost to your health.
Other snacks to try are cheese with root vegetable gratin, garlicky fresh cheese and cauliflower cheese soup.
“Protein helps the flow of digestion, and produce gives you the nutrients your body needs, along with fiber,” Crandall said.
6. Stop drinking carbonated drinks
Carbonated drinks such as sodas are gassy and will cause your belly to bloat. According to Healthline, they are linked to weight gain, increased belly fat accumulation, cause insulin resistance and may be the leading cause of Type 2 Diabetes.
“With carbonated beverages, there’s nowhere else for gas to go but out, so either belch or gas,” Crandall said.
On top of this, the artificial sweeteners in diet drinks also cause bloating and gas in some people who could be more sensitive to the chemicals used in them.
Read also: How to properly detox your body
7. Don't have dessert every day
“If it’s been a healthy day and you’ve stayed active, a small portion of dessert should be fine and won’t cause major bloating,” Rumsey said.
Not having dessert as a routine will help reduce the bad habit of having something sweet after every meal.
“If you don’t have Froot Loops, an apple tastes great,” said Dr. Vera Tarman, medical director of Renascent Rehab in Canada.
“People feel like they need to have something sweet, especially after a meal, and are very distracted by it. They don’t feel like they’ve finished eating until they’ve had dessert,” Tarman said.
From healthy breakfast choices to making important and careful decisions through lunch and dinner, it is possible to eat your way to a flatter belly and overall a healthier diet. (acr/wng)
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