Nothing is more frustrating than trying to squeeze into your favorite jeans and finding you just can’t get the zipper to close.
READ: 10 (Healthy) Foods That Could Make Your Stomach Hurt
While that swollen, gassy feeling can be a sign of a health issue like lactose intolerance or food allergy, it's also commonly caused by PMS, high-fiber foods, too much salt and even chewing gum.
ERAD: The 48-Hour Flat Belly Plan
Fortunately, belly bloat can be eliminated with ease. We asked several health experts to weigh on on how to de-puff that gut.
Velvety-smooth peanut butter may sound like a diet disaster, but when eaten in moderation, it can help keep your stomach in check and also aid in weight loss. “Peanut butter is packed with niacin, essential to a vigorous digestive system,” says Carol Cottrill, author of The French Twist: Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management. “Aim for two tablespoons a day and choose the all-natural brands free of added sugar.”
Asparagus is a diuretic, which helps flush out excess fluid out of the body, says JJ Virgin, author of "The Virgin Diet." “Eating more diuretic veggies can help you de-bloat while supplying your body nutrients and fiber.” Not a fan of asparagus? Virgin suggests opting for other diuretic greens, like cucumber or watercress.
These golden flowers may be a nuisance for your garden, but they can be useful when it comes to your personal health. Recognized as being rich in nutrients, dandelions were ranked as of the top four green vegetables in overall nutritional value by the USDA. But what can they do for your gut? Plenty, insists professional health coach expert Dr. Lori L. Shemek. “This common ‘weed’ acts as a diuretic, which releases retained water, and it has the ability to reduce gas — a two-in-one remedy for bloating,” she explains. “Use dandelions either as a salad or as a tea.” Make sure the dandelions you use in your food are chemical free.
There’s a reason why celebrities like Madonna and Demi Moore can’t get enough of the stuff. The clear fluid inside young coconuts is refreshing for scorching summer days and they’re more nutritional than sugar-filled soda. Coconut water also features potassium, which aids in beating the dreaded bloat. “If you’re eating high sodium foods, enjoy some potassium-rich foods, like coconut water with no sugar added,” says Grace Derocha, dietitian and diabetes educator at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Potassium is naturally able to flush our sodium from the body. Just remember to keep it in moderation.” While natural coconut water straight from the nut is a healthy choice to keep cool, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics warns that it should never replace natural, calorie-free water.
The best way to beat belly bloat is to prevent it in the first place. Tonique Fitness founder Sylwia Wiesenberg explains that eating too many sodium-heavy processed foods is one of the main reasons people can feel so swollen. “Too much salt creates water retention in our bodies, making the belly area bloated,” she says. As an alternative, Wiesenberg suggests snacking on juicy grapes, which can also curb your sweet tooth. “Freeze a few grapes and take them with you to the beach to keep your stomach flat all day,” she suggests.
“Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which aids digestion,” says personal trainer and nutritionist Ana Alexandre. “A few slices after a heavy meal can help you digest the food better and prevent bloating,” she says.
Yogurt is a great way to add more fruit and nutrients to your overall diet, as well as ease that uncomfortable, swollen feeling. “Eat yogurt with active cultures to help your gastrointestinal system more efficiently to digest and absorb food appropriately,” advises Derocha. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises to look for yogurts with “live and active cultures” which is the good bacteria that helps with digestion.
According to Shemek, this creamy wonder fruit does more for you that ease bloating discomfort. “Sodium causes water retention, but potassium, high in avocados, releases water,” she explains. “Avocados will help to slim you down. Avocados have more potassium than bananas. Eat ¼ to ½ daily.”
How does Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence stay fit for the red carpet? Her trainer insists it’s partially due to peppermint tea. “Studies show peppermint tea helps with many digestive upsets including bloating,” explains Alexandre. “This is because it contains menthol, an active ingredient. This can soothe the digestive tract. This is my go-to remedy if I get bloated!”
Need fast relief? Shemek says this seed can help you achieve just that. “Fennel is a bloat-blaster either as a tea or sprinkled directly on foods, such as salads or cereals,” explains Shemek. “Compounds in fennel relaxes muscles in your digestive tract and allow trapped gas to pass.”