Your pants will fit again shortly with this 15 Flat Belly Food Swaps That Cure a Bloated Stomach!
If your belly is zapping your body confidence, don’t despair. There’s a good chance you don’t even need to lose belly fat—you might just be bloated! This is especially true if you’re a woman over the age of 40, since one of the worst culprits for belly bloat is a slow digestive system—a problem that worsens as we age.
The good news is that beating bloat, easing digestion, and bringing back your flat belly can be achieved with a few simple food swaps and lifestyle tweaks. Incorporate the following flat belly foods and menu swaps into your routine, and your clothes should fit more comfortably within just a few days.
Eat: Two kinds of fiber
Why it beats belly bloat: Constipation distends your belly, but one easy way to get rid of it is by starting each morning with a breakfast that guarantees your body a daily dose of fiber. This gets the digestive system moving within a day or so and keeps it that way. Based on a study of breakfast cereals, University of Toronto researchers say that consuming two kinds of fiber at once is most effective.
The scientists found that participants had an easier time staying regular with a cereal that contained both bulky insoluble fiber and gel-like soluble fiber. The two types work together to pull water into your colon and speed up elimination, explains Joanne Slavin, PhD, a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota. The result? You look and feel lighter.
Do this: You’ll find both types of fiber in oatmeal. No time to cook a batch before heading out the door? Try these delicious overnight oats recipes.
Skip: Refined carbs
Why it beats belly bloat: Loading up on white bread, pasta, or sugary baked goods is a surefire path to bloatsville. Why? “The body breaks refined carbs down into glucose, or sugar, very quickly,” explains nutrition expert Amy Shapiro, RD. Some of that glucose gets used as energy, but whatever you don’t need right away gets stored in the muscles and liver for later. The problem? “When we store glucose, we store each molecule along with two molecules of water,” Shapiro says. That’s a recipe for water retention, which can leave you feeling puffy.
Do this instead: Swap refined carbs for complex ones, like whole grains or sweet potatoes. They’re higher in fiber and don’t prompt the body to store as much water, so they’re less likely to cause bloat, Shapiro explains. If you’re used to making white rice or pasta because they’re fast, try a quick-cooking whole grain like quinoa. These one-pot quinoa recipes will have dinner on the table in just 30 minutes.
Eat: Potassium-rich foods
Why they beat belly bloat: High-potassium fare helps your body get rid of excess water weight, minimizing your middle. The extra fluid is typically present because the two main minerals that control the amount of water in your body—potassium and sodium—have gotten out of balance. When your sodium level is too high, your tissues hold on to more fluid.
THE BEST WAYS TO LOSE BELLY FAT FOR GOOD
You can restore your sodium-potassium equilibrium by upping your potassium intake to an optimum 2,600 mg per day, recommends the National Institutes of Health. One thing to keep in mind: Food is a safe source of potassium, but supplements are not. They can cause potassium to build up in your body and potentially lead to abnormal heart rhythms and even heart attack, especially in people with kidney or heart problems, says Leslie Bonci, RD, MPH, chief nutrition officer at Come Ready Nutrition.
Do this: Make an effort to load up on potassium-rich fruits and veggies, along with lentils, milk, and orange juice. As you rebalance your system, you’ll flush out the extra sodium along with the water. Presto! Less puffiness. You probably know bananas are loaded with potassium. But potatoes have even more. These stuffed baked potatoes are a cinch to meal prep.
Why it beats belly bloat: Sodium makes you retain water, puffing out your belly. And most of us eat more than twice as much as we should—topping 3,400 mg a day, rather than the recommended 2,300 mg, according to the CDC.
Do this instead: Pay attention to the sodium count in packaged foods. They account for around 70 percent of the sodium in our diets, the CDC reports. Then try these smart tips for adopting a lower-sodium diet.
Drink: Peppermint tea
Why it beats belly bloat: Sip the herbal brew when a big meal leaves your belly feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. Peppermint helps speed digestion thanks to compounds that promote muscle contractions in the gut, findings show. “I use it all the time to ease indigestion and gas,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, nutrition expert and author of Eating in Color.
Do this: Use store-bought peppermint tea bags, or steep fresh mint leaves in hot water for five minutes.
Why it beats belly bloat: Consider taking a break from the booze if bloating is an issue. “Alcohol is an inflammatory agent, and it can cause gas,” Shapiro says. It’s also super dehydrating, which prompts the body to hold on to as much water as possible. “That can lead to visible bloat,” she adds.
Do this instead: Avoid alcohol altogether if you need to de-puff fast. And next time around? Enjoy a lower sugar option like a glass of wine, tequila with a squeeze of lime, or one of these low-calorie alcoholic drinks. Down a glass of water before and after your drink to stay hydrated, too, Shapiro recommends.
Add: More fluids
Why it beats belly bloat: Staying well hydrated supports the other ways you’re trying to flatten your tummy, says Bonci. For example, when there’s enough fluid present in your system, dual-fiber foods like oats are better able able to pull liquid into your lower intestine and ease constipation. “Women who don’t drink sufficient fluids can get that blown-up belly feeling, despite all their other efforts to get rid of it,” warns Bonci.
How much fluid do you need? Aim for at least eight glasses of liquid each day, plus plenty of fluid-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. You can meet your quota with any liquid, including water, milk, juice, coffee, and tea. (Though not alcohol, which has a dehydrating effect.)
Do this: Tap water is an excellent option because it has no calories, salt, sugar, or additives. And it’s free! If you’re not a fan of the taste, jazz things up with by infusing it with fresh fruit.
Skip: Candy and bubbly drinks
Why it beats belly bloat: Once air from any source reaches your digestive system, you experience it as gas and a distended belly. Eating or drinking quickly, sipping through a straw, sucking on hard candy, and chewing gum can make you swallow air. The bubbles in carbonated drinks can puff you out, too.
Do this instead: “When eating, chew slowly with your mouth closed,” says Bonci. Trade carbonated drinks for flat ones like water or unsweetened iced tea, and lose the gum and candies.
Add: Greek yogurt
Why it beats belly bloat: An imbalance of bacteria in your gut can cause your digestive system to slow down—leaving you backed up and bloated, research suggests. But yogurts containing belly-friendly bacteria like probiotics can help. Probiotics help tame tummy bloat by causing an improvement in intestinal mobility, thereby relieving constipation.
Do this: Eat four ounces of plain yogurt containing live, active cultures daily. If you’re bored with the usual yogurt and fruit combo, shake things up by adding it to homemade salad dressings, using it to prepare a meat marinade, or swapping it in baked goods recipes for sour cream.
Skip: Raw produce
Why it beats belly bloat: Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy, but they’re also high-volume foods that take up room in your stomach. That can make your belly look like it’s sticking out more.
Do this instead: Spread your fresh produce consumption over the day, so at any sitting you’re not eating more than one-third of the recommended daily total of 4 1/2 cups. You can also shrink produce by cooking it, creating a more compact serving, Bonci says. Roasted Butternut Squash with Frizzled Sage or Cauliflower and Potato Mash, anyone?
Why it beats belly bloat: Protein can help you steer clear of bloat-inducing snack foods like sugary cookies or salty chips. “Eating it at meals and snacks helps people feel fuller longer, so they’re less likely to reach for something unhealthy,” says Largeman-Roth.
Do this: Pairing your protein source with fiber-rich foods will keep you full even longer. Try these protein-and-veggie-packed foil packet dinners, and pack up the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Skip: Sugary coffee drinks
Why it beats belly bloat: That saccharine latte might give you a boost, but it’s not doing your belly any favors. “Some coffee drinks can be sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or agave nectar, which both contain fructose,” Largeman-Roth says. But large amounts of fructose can be tough to digest, resulting in gas and bloating.
Do this instead: Trade the fancy drink for a simple, sugar-free pick-me-up like green tea, Largeman-Roth recommends. These healthy Starbucks drinks make great options too. Or make your own low-sugar coffee drink at home, like this Lightened-Up Mocha Latte.
Add: Spices like ginger and fennel seed
Why they beat belly bloat: Both ginger and fennel seed contain compounds that stimulate digestion and relieve gas to help your belly flatten out, Shapiro says. Relying on spices for flavor helps you cut back on the salt, which can also keep bloat at bay.
Do this: Steep fennel seeds or fresh grated ginger in hot water to make a bloat-banishing tea, like our Fresh Ginger Citrus Tea.
Skip: Sugar alcohols
Why it beats belly bloat: We don’t completely digest these low-cal sweeteners, which are often found in flavored waters and low-carb, diabetic, and sugar-free foods. As a result, bacteria in the large intestine ferment them, causing gas, bloating, and even diarrhea.
Do this instead: Check food labels for commonly used sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, and lacitol. If you choose to use a sweetener, stick with small amounts of natural ones instead, like honey, maple syrup, molasses, and coconut sugar.
Add: Fatty fish
Why it beats belly bloat: Eating salmon, tuna, mackerel, or herring could help you shed more fat—including belly fat. The omega-3s found in fatty fish seems to boost calorie burning and promote the formation of metabolism-revving brown fat, according to a 2019 study.
Do this: Fish doesn’t just work for lunch or dinner. Help yourself to some salmon in the a.m. with this Everything Bagel Salmon Breakfast Wrap.