Pushing the Bloat out!
For those of you who do not know me, I’m serving as bridesmaid this Friday. I tried on the dress last week and was dis(brides)mayed to find it a little tauter than I’d remembered. Difficult to pinpoint why but I surmise that eating and drinking my way through the past couple of months has contributed a tad. The perpetually inconveniently-timed classes at my gym equally deserve an honourable mention. Anyway, between the jigs and the reels, or lack thereof, I’m aiming to debloat a little over the next few days. Most right thinking members of society are telling me not to bother at this stage, but my persistent delusional disorder remains persistent.
To that end, I’ve been trying to garner some strategies. Unfortunately, I have found fault with most of the suggestions thus far. I mean, I’d be hardpressed to survive on coldpressed juices for half a day, let alone 72 hours.
Here are some more practical and realistic tips. Some are more long term solutions, while others exert an (almost) immediate effect! Mostly common sense I know but no harm to remind ourselves!
- You booze, you lose. Or gain rather, and not in a desirable #DemGains way. It’s not without good reason alcohol has been christened ’empty calories’. Luckily I’m not overly keen on sugar-laden, bloat-inducing cocktails but I adore my wine and as my neighbour Linda recently chided, a large glass of wine is effectively a ‘pastry in a glass’. I skipped the vino with dinner altogether last Friday- more power to me- and only had a single (admittedly largish) glass of Prosecco before dinner Saturday evening followed by a glass of red after we happened upon Piglet Wine bar en route to Vicar Street’s closing night of the show RIOT. I don’t plan on drinking again until the wedding day, apart from maybe one the night before to be sociable! Alcohol a flair player in bloatathons, not least because of the food I eat while I’m drinking, en route home after drinking and ALL DAY THE NEXT DAY. I have been known to jeopardise my health and safety by disembarking moving rickshaws when a familiar kebab shop comes into view after a few. I am happy to report that no event of this nature occurred this weekend. Furthermore I am quietly confident I’ll succeed in resisting the lure of late-night kebabs until the wedding is under my hopefully-not-too-tight belt.
- Maintain adequate levels of hydration. Obvious I know but not always achieved! Aim for ~1.5 litres of water over the course of the day. Old reliables to break the monotony include cucumber water, hot water with lemon wedges and green tea.
- Skip bloat-promoting carbonated drinks and gum containing the artificial sweeteners mannitol, sorbital and xylitol. These all increase production of gas in your gut. And don’t forget to chew slowly so as not to swallow more air than necessary and give your digestive tract time to communicate with your brain’s satiety centre.
- Reduce your intake of salty foods. Seek out potassium-rich alternatives to counteract your body’s sodium retention. Deplump by plumping for things like avocados, (ripe) bananas and dark leafy greens. Probiotic rich foods (see my previous post on them!) will also help restore balance to your gut flora, thereby balancing out the gas-promoting bad bugs.
- Pare back your consumption of foods like beans, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and sprouts in the immediate lead-up to an event. While nutritionally very desirable foods at other times, they are gas-promoters you might prefer to avoid just before slipping on a slinky number.
* Some of the above dietary advice may not suit those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS can only be diagnosed once other bowel disorders have been outruled and once it has been diagnosed, the best dietary advice is to try a low FODMAP diet (look it up!) followed by a period of re-introducing foods to establish triggers.*
- Eat less. Oldest advice in the book I know, but make a concerted effort to avoid portion distortion. Drastic calorie restriction, eliminating entire food groups, obsessions with things like macros and counting carbs are to be discouraged and I feel the current general consensus is one of weariness with the lot of it. Mindful and intuitive eating are the order of the day but to state the obvious we do need to eat smaller portions to banish the bloat (and to shed a few pounds in the longer term).
- Move more. Another obvious one. If nothing else, a 30 minute post-dinner stroll will serve to reinvigorate and debloat a little. While the much fêted 10,000 daily steps is obviously an arbitrary delineation, I do feel it’s a solid, approachable place to start for those who are completely sedentary. I tend to maintain my muscle even if I’m only doing light cardio intermittently (#MyFather’sDaughter!) but if you don’t, some resistance/weight training is essential to keep your metabolic rate ramped up 24/7. A sturdy core, pilates-honed or otherwise, will reign in the bloat whatever you’ve had as your last meal! It’s back to basics pour moi as I (re)start my couch to 5K app, #BasicBitch I know! I might even fit in a gym class before my membership expires…
- Sleep! Sleep duration has been shown to be an important regulator of body weight and metabolism. A robust link between short habitual sleep time and increased weight has been demonstrated in studies of large population samples. Participants with short sleep times showed off-kilter hormone levels, namely reduced leptin (the ‘satiety hormone’) and elevated ghrelin (the ‘hunger hormone’).
- Aannnnd relax! The accumulation of adrenaline and cortisol that results from stress can send your digestive tract into overdrive and lead to bloating. Ask any IBS sufferer! Yet another reason to blow off steam through exercise. You could try following your workout with an Epsom salt bath to maximise the bloat reduction. Alternatively, try a yoga session, an engrossing novel or some mindfulness… whatever floats your bloat!
Have a great week!
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