Seven steps to banish bloating
Of the 14 million hashtags used last month on social media, right at the very top was #fashion, followed closely by #style and #beautiful.
Fortunately, #love was right in there too, adding something a little deeper to the mix.
Itís easy to criticise apps like Instagram for being superficial but itís a great tool for generating amazing images. And as long as we recognise it for what it is, itís all good.
We just have to remember that we canít apply all those filters in real life (damn it Ö) so itís important to keep our expectations in check.
The sunsets you see with your own eyes are the best anyway, even better if you have your toes in the ocean and look up for long enough to drink it all in.
Fortunately, itís not all abs and pictures of peopleís breakfasts. Instagram gets used a lot for change and awareness too.
Tags like #metoo and #turnthetideonplastic have helped draw attention to major social and environmental issues.
Iíve loved #ihaveembraced, designed to help women embrace body confidence no matter what their size or self-perceived flaws.
Itís hard to be at ease when our media images are so heavily adjusted and manipulated, but thatís the goal.
Joining the body-loviní ranks today was #bloatisbeautiful, aiming to get women to relax their pursuit of a perfectly flat stomach.
Maybe thatís a bit of a stretch ó itís so annoying when your stomach is tight and sore at the end of the day, especially if you made a stream of healthy choices!
Iím cool with recognising that our stomachs just arenít always going to be flat (especially post babies!) and Iím also good with letting the struggle go sometimes.
The thing is with bloating, thereís actually lots you can do about it and so, if itís OK with you, Iím going to reject #bloatisbeautiful and give you #banishbloating instead.
Here are seven easy steps! It doesnít cover everything under the sun ó and Iím overlooking food sensitivities entirely ó but itís a good place to start.
(PS Iím actually writing this with the children in the office and the bagel crumbs and hyperactivity are somewhat out of control. Belle has found a book on my shelf called Birth and Beyond; sheís just traumatised herself with pictures from a water birth. I feel like Iím failing at parenting right now. Most appropriate hashtags? #passthewine #andastraw)
1, Soak your nuts!
Ah, just about my favourite nutrition joke. But you really should soak your nuts! And your beans, lentils and grains too.
All of them have enzyme inhibitors on the outside that can interfere with digestion and cause you to puff up if youíre sensitive.
Itís unlikely youíll be able to do it with everything but most important is to rinse any beans or chickpeas you use from a can.
All the liquid in there is packed full of enzyme inhibitors so, even if your recipe says to use it, donít!
If youíre cooking things from scratch, then they require different lengths of time for soaking and I have a super-handy chart that lists the recommendations. Iíll share it on Facebook and Instagram today so check it out there!
2, Avoid refined carbohydrates
Refined carbs like white rice, white bread, white pasta, cookies, cakes and candy are classic culprits for triggering bloat!
Replace them with wholegrain versions, fresh fruit, beans/lentils (rinsed or soaked), butternut squash or sweet potato instead.
Always go easy on portion size though ó as a very general guide, up to one-quarter of your plate!
3, Address dysbiosis
We have approximately 5lbs of friendly bacteria living both in and on our bodies. Weird, huh? Most of them are ďfriendlyĒ bacteria but some will be ďunfriendlyĒ.
Sugar, birth control pills, steroids, antibiotics, alcohol and parasitic infections can all cause overgrowth of bad bacteria, resulting in intestinal dysbiosis.
You can help rectify this by cutting your sugars and increasing fermented foods and live yoghurt.
You can also take a probiotic supplement but you need to make sure itís top quality. My favourite is the Innate Choice probiotic from Inside Out Wellness Centre, but the Solgar brand (Down to Earth) is good and Rock On and Peopleís Pharmacy also have quality options too.
Note that while a general formula is often effective, you might sometimes benefit from clinical testing to determine the details of an overgrowth and identify the best strains of friendly bacteria to help rectify the situation.
4, Try apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains live enzymes that can help improve digestion.
Try one tablespoon in warm water (with a little honey or maple if need be) to kick off your day. My favourite is the Bragg brand (Supermart) but please note that itís unpasteurised.
5, Avoid carbonated drinks
Drinking bubbles can give you bubbles! If you are going to drink anything carbonated, I suggest you do it between meals.
6, Try and relax at meal time
Clients with bloating are often convinced they have food sensitivities or worse. Sometimes thatís the case but itís all too easy to go down the road of excluding foods when thereís something more simple at play.
Stress causes peristalsis to seize up. Peristalsis is the muscular motion that drives food through your digestive tract.
So if you eat when youíre stressed, itís not uncommon to get heartburn or bloating.
7, Include anti-bloat options!
Asparagus is a diuretic and can help reduce bloating. Cucumber can be helpful too. Lemon water can kick-start your digestion in the morning (try lemon juice in warm water when you wake up).
One of the most effective strategies for dealing with an already-bloated tummy is simply drinking peppermint tea.
Dandelion and fennel teas can also be helpful ó especially if you boil them really well and sip them slowly.
ē The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or, Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda