Summer time is upon us! More time with friends and family means a smorgasbord of social outings, parties and hot days on the couch (cricket fans?). While looking good might be the first thing on your mind when thinking about hitting the beach this season, feeling good on the inside is just as important and can make a world of a difference!
As you ride the end-to-end waves of parties and drinks, your routine goes out the window. Odd meal timings, snacking and late nights out can confuse our body’s clockwork and slow our gut down, making us feel constipated, bloated and sluggish. This can make us even less motivated to set things back in order. And round and round we go…
You are not alone – 1 in 3 Aussies experience bloating. It can be caused by behaviours as simple as eating too much or too quickly, or something more serious such as irritable bowel syndrome or food intolerances. You might feel heavy and tight around the stomach area, leading to wind, discomfort or even writhing pain.
It is good to note that while some foods can cause or worsen bloating, other foods may help ease it. Beat the bloat and sail through this summer season with these 7 top food hacks.
#1 Eat your fruits and veggies
Fibre not only keeps you fuller for longer, but is also food for your gut bacteria to help ease gas and constipation. Summer means an abundance of fruits and vegetables to choose from, making it easier to reach your daily 2-and-5 serves of fruit and veg respectively. Colourful salads, roasted veggies with BBQs and refreshing fruit salads are just some ways of upping your serves. Keep the skin of fruit and veg intact for extra fibre and to reap the rejuvenating benefits of antioxidants!
#2 Think wholegrains
Gram for gram, grainy bread can have up to 5 times more fibre than white breads – that means reaching your daily fibre target 5 times faster! Rule of thumb, if you can see the grains and seeds of breads and cereals that’s a good sign.
#3 Get some nuts (and seeds):
Full of fibre, a handful of nuts make handy snacks that will stop you from making a ravenous rush for the party table upon arrival (and therefore keep a lid on your overall kilojoule intake).
#4 Top up on water
Dehydration can also lead to constipation, and with more parties and social outings water bottles are all too often replaced by alcohol and fizzy drinks. While these drinks may be refreshing quenchers in the immediate heat, they actually act as diuretics – a bit like caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee. Jazz up plain iced water with pieces of fresh fruit for a pop of flavour.
#5 Skip the salt
Remember that water follows salt, so having lots of salt means your body will also retain a lot of fluid (regardless of how much you drink), which adds to the puffy and bloated feeling you get afterwards. The festive season means a galore of salty morsels including platters of salty deli meats, cheese boards, salted nut mixes… and watch out for those dips and sauces full of hidden salt and nestled with your seafood, pizza and snags too.
#6 Know your FODMAPs
These are fermentable carbohydrates or sugars, commonly known as “gassy” or “windy” foods, which are not well digested by all of us. People who experience serious bloating may not necessarily produce more gas but are more sensitive to the gassy effects. Some common ‘gassy’ culprits include cabbage, beans, onions and stone fruit. Instead of avoiding your two serves of fruit (which contain fructose, a FODMAP), ditch the fruit juice concentrates and soft drinks which have large quantities of fructose – and zero health benefits.
These include yoghurt, fermented foods and drinks, and products such as Yakult which contain helpful bacteria strains that maintain a healthy gut, stop the overgrowth of toxic bacteria and keep your bowels regular. Hail summer mornings with dollops of plain yoghurt on your cereal or in fruit smoothies for a glowing start to your day.
Consult your medical practitioner if your symptoms are persistent and causing you significant discomfort or disruption to your lifestyle. An Accredited Practising Dietitian can do a supervised elimination diet with you to pinpoint exactly what foods or chemicals your body is reacting to and design a personalised menu plan. To book in for a private consult, please Contact Us here.
This article was written by Michelle Hsu, who is an intern at The Biting Truth and is currently studying her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics at The University of Sydney.