If you're sporting a baby bump after lunch every day—but you're definitely not pregnant—you may be a victim of the bloat. Usually caused by gas or food in the belly or intestines, bloating can turn your favorite skinny jeans into your worst enemy and make you want to hide in your oversized hoodie for the day. And if you're forced to wear a slim dress or—gasp—a swimsuit, the bloat can be downright mortifying. Luckily, there are some clever ways to stop bloating in its tracks and help you get a flatter belly, fast.
1. Slow down at mealtime. According to WebMD, overeating is the culprit behind most bloating. To help reduce your food intake without feeling deprived, they recommend chewing slowly and taking your time with each meal. Your stomach sends signals to your brain when it's satisfied, but these messages may take up to 20 minutes to kick in; thus, you'll probably eat less when you prolong the experience instead of scarfing down your food.
2. Skip the soda. Those bubbles may tickle your tongue nicely, but soft drinks aren't helping your waistline in the short term. The pockets of gas don't just disappear after you swallow, and the air may bulk up your midsection for a bloating effect. Not worth it on little-black-dress nights.
3. Ease into a high-fiber diet. Fiber is great for maintaining a clean, bloat-free colon. However, eating too much at once can lead to a gassy disaster if your body isn't prepared. According to the Eastern Carolina Family Practice Center, you should slowly introduce fiber into your diet at the rate of 14 extra grams per 1,000 calories, per day. This gives your healthy gut flora some prep time, whereas shocking them with a giant plate of beans or broccoli may lead to poor digestion—and the undigested fiber will sit in your large intestine to ferment, causing serious gas bloating.
4. Drink up. Soda may be out, but water is in. Drinking water can help you digest high-fiber foods more quickly, flushing them through your system so they don't clog up your intestines. WebMD explains that all fiber absorbs water, and the hydrated fibers pass through your system more rapidly.
5. Work it out. If that bowl of chili is wiped clean and you need to deflate fast, 20 minutes of gentle exercise may help. Harvard Medical School reports that when subjects pedaled in a reclining position after eating a meal, their guts emptied faster than without exercise. Be warned, however, that this method may cause some embarassing gas expulsion in the process—so head outdoors for your mini-workout if possible.
6. Take a probiotic. A bacterial imbalance could be to blame for persistent bloating, and taking a probiotic regularly can help alleviate this problem. Try swallowing a supplement or filling up on probiotic-rich fare such as yogurt or sauerkraut. In extreme cases, prescription antibiotics can sometimes alleviate bacterial excesses that cause chronic bloating.
7. Try an OTC remedy. They're not sure-fire fixes, but Beano or other gas-busting products may help in a pinch. Harvard notes that they don't work for everyone, but some users have positive results.
image: Dear, Max