With the summer in full swing, you really want to be looking and feeling your best all day long, especially if you’re spending that day in a swimsuit. Summer barbecues mean lots of good food and drink, but our digestive tracts aren’t always equipped to handle that kind of stress. If you find that by the mid-afternoon or evening, you stomach is feeling a little bloated and uncomfortable, there are some simple and natural fixes that only require being mindful about what you eat. Try these food and beverage dos and don’ts for a bloat-free day in the sun.
Don’t over do it on alcohol
Sorry, but it’s called a ‘beer belly’ for a reason. Alcohol is hard for your body to digest and goes straight to your liver for processing. Your body doesn’t like when you give it stuff that’s hard to break down so alcohol alone can cause bloating while your body tries to cope with it.
Do eat foods high in water
The key to avoiding that bloated feeling is to keep your digestive tract moving. The best way to do that is by drinking water throughout the day and eating foods that have a high water content. Watermelon is 90 percent water (hence the name) and is the perfect summer fruit to serve at a barbecue. Celery and asparagus are great vegetable options for keeping your digestion moving. Avoid foods with excess salt: that will be counter-productive and cause you to retain water rather than flush it out.
Don’t consume things that put excess air in your stomach
This is why beer is doubly bad for you: the carbonation puts air in your stomach which takes up space and can lead to a bloated belly. Any carbonated beverage can do that–even sparkling water–and drinking from a straw adds air to any drink as you sip. Eating quickly and chewing gum can put air in your stomach too so pace yourself and try not to over do it on gum.
Do start your day with a smoothie
Smoothies are a great and healthy way to start your day if you pack them full of things that are good for you and avoid making them too sweet. Your key ingredient should be probiotic yogurt for a boost of good gut bacteria that will help your digestion all day long. A good anti-bloating fruit to add to your morning smoothie is papaya. It contains the enzyme papain which helps break down proteins and again, speed up digestion. Don’t forget to add greens for some good fiber.
Don’t consume too many foods with artificial sweeteners
As is clear from their name, artificial sweeteners aren’t natural. That means that our bodies get a little confused when confronted with them because they would never see them in the wild. Since they’re harder to digest, sweeteners might stay in our systems longer and slow down the digestion process that we’re trying to streamline. Sorry, but you might be better off skipping the Stevia in your morning coffee.
Do eat foods that are good for digestion
Fiber and diuretics are your friend if you’re looking to keep that digestive tract moving. One of the best foods you can have is ginger. It’s got fiber and is famous for it’s ability to aid digestion and relax the digestive tract. Chew on a little after a meal to help the whole thing go down better. Fennel is also good at relieving gas and helping with digestion. It’s common practice in Italy to chew a little fennel after a meal for that reason and the fennel seeds work well too. Parsley is also a good add-on for your dinner; it’s a diuretic and can help flush out excess water in your system.
Overall, just be smart with what you put in your body. Summer may be the time of beer and steak, but it’s also the season of fresh fruits and veggies. Now go out and embrace it.