Are you at your thinnest when you wake up in the morning and your roundest at night? You might just be bloated! For years I thought that was just the natural rhythm of life. My theory was that when you wake up, your stomach has emptied out overnight and is therefore flat, and then over the course of the day you are filling up your belly and the subsequent result is a rounded abdomen, coupled with some potential pain and gas.
The truth of the matter is that it isn’t necessarily the fact that you are ingesting copious amounts of food throughout the day, it is more about the type of food and how it is ingested that matters. This simple guide of 5 Flat Belly Foods can help you reduce swelling, inflammation and the need to undo that top button on your pants!
Right away we have to figure out some of the reasons why bloating occurs in our bodies. The first thing that comes to mind is air – not necessarily flatulence – gas is generally the end product. Air can be incorporated in many ways. Fizzy drinks, chewing gum and gulping down food are all culprits in increasing digestive pressure.
The next big problem is slow digestion. Food that sticks around longer than 24 hours in the digestive tract will definitely cause bloating, discomfort and possibly constipation. It can be caused by large meals, not enough fiber or foods that are high in fat and animal protein.
Lastly, comes food intolerances. Our body, especially as it ages, makes less enzymes, bile and stomach acid – this makes it harder to digest certain foods causing our system to become intolerant to them, making it harder to digest and increasing the bloat.
Did you know that there are foods that cause systemic inflammation by damaging the lining of our intestines? This creates problems for the delicate ecosystem that resides there – causing an imbalance of “good” to “bad” bacteria. It is the wastes from the “bad” bacteria that causes bloating from inflammation.
Tips For Improving Digestion And Avoiding The Bloat:
1. Avoid drinking large amounts of ice cold water with meals. Too much water will dilute your stomach acid and reduce the effectiveness of enzymes as well as decrease the output of bile, as a result, your digestion will suffer.
2. Go for a walk after big meals. This will help get things moving both on a physical level and on a digestive level.
3. Eat smaller meals more often. This will help control blood sugar and manage your hunger, causing less cravings for “inflammatory foods” like fries and burgers.
4. Take your time to thoroughly chew. Chewing is an essential step in breaking down food, activating enzymes and reducing the burden on the stomach and intestines. Large particles of food that make it to the gut feed the “bad” bacteria!
Top 5 Foods To Avoid For A Flat Belly:
1. Fried foods. Because fats are harder to breakdown, they overwhelm the stomach and cause oxidative stress. Fried foods tend to linger in the digestive tract.
2. Eating fruit at the end of a meal. Fruits, especially melon, are difficult to digest when they are piled on top of a large meal. When they just sit there they begin to ferment and cause gas and bloating.
3. Dairy foods. Humans are the only mammals that consume milk after weaning – so it shouldn’t be a surprise that for most of us our ability to breakdown milk ended when we weaned. Lactose intolerance is a main culprit behind a muffin top. And studies have shown that milk consumption among men can increase their risk of prostate cancer.
4. Red meat. This super dense animal protein doesn’t need to be completely removed from the plate, the plate just needs to be reimagined. Meat should make up ¼ of the plate with vegetables and grains making up the other ¾.
5. Wheat. By now everyone has heard of a gluten free diet – one thing you might not know is that by cutting out wheat – especially white flour – you reduce inflammation.
Top 5 Foods To Consume For A Flat Belly:
1. Cod. A staple cold water fish from the North Atlantic, cod is bursting with omega 3 essential fatty acids. Omega 3 reduces inflammation in a complicated sequence of events brought on by a group of hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins. They also promote a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria. TIP: Small cold water fish can be eaten up to 5 times a week.
2. Pineapple. The wonderful thing about pineapple is that it actually boosts the amount of enzymes that are available to aid in breaking down protein. Bromelain, the enzyme that is most dense in the pineapple core, can help reduce indigestion, cutting down on gas and bloating. TIP: Because the core of the pineapple is too tough to chew, it can be chopped up and blended into smoothies.
3. Chia. Chia is very high in fiber and omega 3 making it awesome for digestion. This little wonder seed actually balances blood sugar – this means that you will feel fuller longer and end up eating less on a daily basis. Balanced blood sugar is excellent for fighting insulin resistance, which has been linked to an increase in abdominal fat. TIP: Chia needs to be hydrated before you eat them or they will remove water from the digestive tract actually slowing digestion, alternatively, make sure to keep up with your daily intake of water.
4. Quinoa. Even though quinoa is versatile enough to act as a grain it is actually a seed – this means that it is gluten free, reducing the risk of irritating the intestines. The high amount of fiber in the quinoa seed is also very useful to regulate bowel movements. A quick transit time reduces bloating and keeps the belly nice and flat. TIP: To make fluffy quinoa: for every 1 cup of the seed use 1 ¾ cups of water and cook on stovetop like rice.
5. Spinach. High in antioxidants, fiber and anti-inflammatory carotenoids, vitamin E and K. Spinach falls into the category with other dark leafy greens like kale and chard, but is a lot easier on the digestive process. TIP: Spinach is especially easy to digest when it is lightly sautéed in olive oil. Squeeze some lemon on top to help with nutrient absorption.
By consuming foods that are anti-inflammatory, enzyme rich, high in fiber and omega 3 you will:
In good health,
Cheryl Wahl, RHN, CPCC, Personal Trainer
Want to reduce your risk of cancer, receive recipes and health information regularly straight to your in-box? Download your free copy now.