Say Goodbye To Bloating: 12 Food Swaps For A Flat Belly
Aside from making you uncomfortable with how you look in your clothes, bloating also feels physically uncomfortable.
While bloating can have various causes — from fluid retention to constipation to byproducts of digestion — certain foods are more flat-belly-friendly than others.
So say bye-bye to bloat with these 12 foods and drinks for a flatter stomach.
1. Try Seasoning Meals With Ginger Instead of Garlic or Onion
There is no doubt garlic and onions are packed full of health benefits, but they also contain sugars known as fructans. Some individuals are unknowingly sensitive to these particular sugars, resulting in stomach upset and bloating.
Pay attention to how you feel following meals containing garlic or onions. If you feel completely fine — great! If your stomach feels upset or bloated, try seasoning your meals with flat-belly alternatives such as ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and cumin.
2. Opt for Whole-Gran Bread Over Diet Breads
Wraps, buns, and breads labeled “low carb”, “light”, or “low-calorie” might sound healthy, but these options are often lacking fibre, packed with preservatives and additivies, and full of added sugar.
Instead, opt for whole-grain bread. Check the ingredient lists — the fewer ingredients, the better. If you have a gluten intolerance, check for ingredients such as quinoa, potato flour, rice, corn, or oats. Better yet, get creative and skip the bread entirely when possible. Large lettuce leaves make an easy, crunchy, delicious bun or sandwich bread alternative!
3. Choose Whole Cuts of Meats Rather Than Deli Meats and Pre-Packaged Deli Foods
Deli meats and pre-packaged salads are almost guaranteed to be packed with sodium. Too much sodium can lead to water retention, bloating, and puffiness.
When possible, choose grilled fish or chicken breast rather than processed deli meats and salads.
4. Choose Hard Cheeses Instead of Soft Cheeses
Soft cheeses such as ricotta and cream cheese contain the highest amounts of lactose, a milk sugar that is a notorious tummy-troubler.
Tip: Although lactose isn’t specifically listed on nutrition labels, you can get an idea of how much lactose a dairy product contains by looking at how much sugar appears on the label.
Instead of consuming cheeses that you can spread or scoop with a spoon, try options such as Swiss, parmesan, and cheddar. Hard cheeses tend to contain smaller amounts of lactose. This may translate to less risk of bloating and puffiness.
5. Opt for Popped or Baked Chips Instead of Potato Chips
Consuming too much greasy, high-fat food can prolong stomach emptying, increasing your potential for bloating, discomfort, and acid reflux. Because fat is digested slower than other nutrients, this sensation can stick around, causing you to feel bloated until your stomach can process everything.
Baked or popped versions of chips can digest easier, as do versions with fats that are plant-sourced rather than animal-sourced.
6. Eat Almonds or Peanuts Rather than Cashews or Pistachios
Almonds and peanuts contain carbohydrates that are easier to digest than in other nuts such as cashews and pistachios. To avoid water retention, choose unsalted peanuts or almonds.
7. Opt For Cereals and Snack Bars With Fewer Ingredients
Even the healthiest sounding cereals and bars can be loaded with sneaky ingredients and additives that can trigger gas and bloating such as:
- Wheat Bran
- Chicory Root
When possible, try to choose snacks that are free of the ingredients above and contain as few ingredients as possible.
Regardless of what you choose to eat, be sure to take your time chewing it. Digestion begins in the mouth, meaning proper chewing can increase the efficiency of the digestion process and reduce the risk of gas and bloating.
8. Try Almond Milk Rather Than Soy Milk
If you have a sensitivity to lactose, you may assume that any milk alternative is better than cow’s milk. However, soy milk is made from soybeans that can end up fermenting in your colon — hello bloating! — due to the body’s poor ability to absorb them.
Although a splash of soy milk in your coffee is unlikely to cause you any discomfort, adding it to your coffee, cereal, and other foods throughout the day may lead to issues. Whether you choose to stick with soy milk or switch over to nut-based milks, always choose the unsweetened versions when possible.
9. Choose Plain Greek Yogurt Instead of Low-calorie, Sweetened Versions
In addition to lactose, low-calorie, sweetened yogurts and dairy-based frozen desserts often contain artificial or natural sweeteners like maltitol and chicory root that promote bloating. A tip for telling if a dairy product (or any product) may irritate your stomach? Check the nutrition label for sugar alcohols.
Even when adding fruit to the mix, plain Greek yogurt contains fewer ingredients. Plus, the berries add healthy fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. When it comes to frozen desserts, sherbet and sorbet may be better options.
10. Choose Carrots And Bell Peppers Instead of Broccoli and Cauliflower
Cauliflower and broccoli may be absolute superfoods in terms of all the nutrients they offer, but if you are trying to feel your best for an event or in general, they may not be your best bet.
Cauliflower contains raffinose, a carbohydrate that the body lacks the necessary enzymes to break down. This causes it to pass through the stomach and small intestine undigested. Once it reaches the large intestine, bacteria try to break it down to digest it by fermentation. This causes that tell-tale uncomfortable, bloated feeling.
Along with cauliflower and broccoli, other members of the cruciferous family of vegetables such as asparagus and cabbage can cause bloating as well.
If broccoli and cauliflower are some of your favourites, try cooking them rather than consuming them raw.
As opposed to the cruciferous family of vegetables, veggies such as carrots and bell peppers are easier to digest and less likely to lead to issues with bloating.
11. Try Dips and Condiments Instead of Hummus
Hummus, made from garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas), can lead to discomfort and bloating. Other dips made from lentils, peans, and black beans can also cause bloat. Sugar-free dips and dressings are also worth avoiding since they contain artificial sweeteners that can irritate the stomach.
Processed dips and spreads are also commonly packed with salt. Condiments such as pesto, relish, oil and vinegar, salsa, mustard, and unsalted nut butter make more flat-belly-friendly choices.
12. Eat Rockmelon (Canteloupe) Instead of Watermelon
Fruits are often rich in fibre and high in water, great for aiding in a flat belly. However, fruits that get their sweetness from fructose alone put you at a higher risk of irritation and bloating. One such fruit is watermelon. Although it contains an impressive water content, the sweetness it is so loved for comes from fructose.
Other fruits that may be problematic in terms of bloating include:
- Stone fruits
- Canned fruits
If you are looking to flatten your belly, try snacking on fruits such as:
- Most berries
Ultimately, if a certain fruit does not bother you, enjoy! If a particular fruit does cause a bit of bloating or stomach upset, try to reduce the amount you eat in a sitting or how often you eat it.
Want More Tips on Eating Healthy and Feeling Your Best
As with anything, it is crucial to listen to your body. Although this list certainly does not mean that you have to give up particular foods forever, we hope you find it helpful to navigate which foods cause bloating and which foods to choose for a flat stomach. As with anything, it is important to listen to your body when you eat particular foods.