Bloating—it makes me feel gross and I seriously hate it. Please, how can I make it stop!?!
- Lauren P.
Bloating is annoying and uncomfortable, but around the holiday season it seems to be inevitable. You can thank the heavy foods that we've come to associate with seasonal gatherings for that puffy, stiff feeling in your midsection. But you don't need to munch on celery during every cocktail party in order to banish bloat! By being proactive and reactive, you can stay svelte and comfortable year round.
Most importantly, remember your body doesn't blow up like a marshmallow "just because." Bloating is the body's way of telling us that there's an allergy, intolerance, or inflammation caused by the foods we're eating. Pay a little more attention to the days that you do feel bloated. What did you munch on the day or night before?
One of the most common signs of a dairy or gluten intolerance is indigestion and bloat, and if it's particularly difficult to zip up your pants the day after you attack the cheese plate then you may want to consider cutting dairy out of your diet for a few weeks to test your theory.
Other surprising culprits: Carbonated beverages and artificial sweeteners. The extra bubbles in sodas create more gas in your stomach, causing it to expand. And artificial sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols, are linked to bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea. (I know, I know. But you'd rather read about these things than have them happen to you, right?) Sugar alcohols are the sweetener of choice in most diet and low-calorie foods. That's your cue to put down the Diet Coke—it's a bloating double-whammy.
Take a wrong turn at the buffet table and suddenly your plate is filled with buttery dinner rolls, baked brie, and powdered sugar-covered cookies? Don't stress—drink a glass of water with lemon, and fight back against bloat with a few easy tricks.
Our first: olive leaf extract. This stuff is antimicrobial and antiviral, so it's a great supplement to have on hand during winter cold season anyway. Olive leaf helps support the good bacteria in your gut so digestion is easier; if there's a buildup of bad bacteria, like candida, in the stomach and small intestines it can slow digestion and cause gas and bloating. Olive leaf helps kill bad bacteria so beneficial bacteria can thrive.
Peppermint oil is another awesome organic supplement to have on hand—not only will it leave your breath minty fresh, a few drops under the tongue can soothe an upset stomach. The minty essential oil stops spasms in the smooth muscle tissue in the intestines from occurring, which are often at the root of bloating and indigestion. The ultimate after-dinner drink? Peppermint tea—it helps your stomach break down your meal a little easier and can flatten your tummy.
Next up—probiotics! Full disclosure: We're all about probiotics here at Thrive Market HQ. Why? Whether you gulp them in a drink or toss them back in a pill, they're full of the good kind of bacteria that your gut needs to function efficiently, a.k.a. digest food without giving you a food baby. Take them daily to ensure optimal digestive health.
Not into taking a pill everyday? Eat your probiotics instead. Fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, tempeh, and kimchi all contain the same prebiotic and probiotics that most pills do. Research shows that these foods can actually contribute to a leaner waistline, too—so feel free to top that Christmas dinner with a little sauerkraut to ease bloating woes.
Hope these tips help you fight the good fight against bloating all year long. Have health questions that you want answered? Leave them in the comments below!
Michelle Pellizzon received her bachelor's degree from New York University and is certified through Institute of Integrative Nutrition and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Check out her story here.
Produced & Directed by: Liza Glucoft
Director of Photography: Naeem Munaf
Editor: Stephanie Provence