Some days we wake up to find our body swelled up like a sponge, eyes puffy, doubled up ankles, and an ungainly stomach pooch that refuses to let the jeans slide up and button up.
Sometimes the entire body swells up and at times just one or two parts (like say ankle, or the face puffs up). Most of the time, the condition is temporary and harmless, if somewhat uncomfortable.
What happened overnight you wonder? Well, it’s most likely a case of bloating, which seems to have become a common problem afflicting all of us these days.
Somehow between baking (and eating) cakes and trying our homemade gulab jamuns and gajar ka halwa, and other pandemic plus festive time excesses in the past few months—which includes multiple fried savories as well —we are today facing a big bloating issue, where an expanded, distended and tight tummy has somehow become a common, rather unpleasant and often embarrassing side effect lately.
Follow this 12 point plan to counter this unwanted bloat.
1. Check Your Water Meter
You could be retaining water if you are dehydrated.
That’s because just like when on a crash diet, the body responds by going into starvation mode and clings to fat, your body begins to hold on to fluid when it's dehydrated.
A bloated stomach could actually be a signal to gulp some water down.
2. Eat Natural Diuretics
Parsley tea is the best-known type.
Brew two teaspoons of dried leaves per cup of boiling water and steep for ten minutes. Drink up to three cups a day.
Eat foods rich in diuretic properties like celery, lettuce, carrots, onion, asparagus, tomato, and cucumber.
And that age-old practice of adding coriander leaves over subji’s? It makes sense to go back to that practice, as these greens are natural diuretics and also aid indigestion.
3. Eat a Balanced (in Flavor) Plate
Most of us ignore bitter foods but they actually help cut water retention in the body.
So, consciously incorporate some bitter (tikta) and astringent (kashai) foods. These stimulate enzyme production and bile flow leading to better digestion and also helps the liver work at its optimum, which is essential for a detoxed body.
They also help maintain balance, detox the body naturally and thus help get rid of extra water from the body.
4. Avoid Too Much Salt
Our kidneys tend to retain fluid in our bodies to make sure that the excess salt is diluted.
Our body needs a very little salt and is very good at conserving it, so the less you eat, the better it is.
Try to stick to the one-teaspoon-a-day (that’s about 2,400 mg) whether it’s in soups, salads, pickles, Rotis, vegetables, fries, rice, dals, and anything else you may eat. Also, read the labels carefully.
5. Strike the Right Balance of Minerals
While we get more than enough sodium, we don’t eat enough potassium.
This imbalance can raise blood pressure and also lead to fluid retention. Calcium and magnesium also play an important role in the fluid balance in the body,
- For potassium, eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables. Nuts and seeds are good sources too.
- For magnesium eat nuts, grains, green vegetables, potatoes, apples, jamun, phalsa, mangoes, amla, guava, and bananas.
- For calcium focus on dairy, green leafy vegetables, figs.
6. Help Your Gut
An efficient digestive system helps prevent bloating.
Strive to keep the number of good bacteria in your stomach up by including probiotics in your diet via homemade pickles, probiotic milk and yoghurts and fermented foods like fermented vegetables, chutneys, idli, dosa batter, dhokla, appam, and drinks like lassi and kanji.
7. Try the Vitamin D Cure
Vitamin D helps the body to excrete excess fluid. To score enough D, spend some time in the sun every day without fail.
8. Avoid Too Many Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates they tax the digestive system and lead to water retention.
Particularly eliminate all refined sugars to improve your gut flora. Instead, eat a lot of vegetables and other high-quality, ideally organic, unprocessed foods.
Sugar, in particular, is a bad idea as gas causing bad bacteria and yeast feed on refined sugars, which can exacerbate bloating.
9. Lose Excess Weight
Overweight people have more estrogen in their systems (fat tissue produces estrogen) and this puts them at higher than normal risk for retaining fluid in their tissues.
10. Make up the Missing Fiber
Not only is fibre great for overall weight loss (it fills you up so you don't eat as much), it also prevents constipation, which is a common culprit that leads to a tummy bulge.
11. Look Out for Lactose Intolerance
When the body has trouble digesting dairy, the common side effect is bloating, indigestion and gas. Keep a lookout for this.
12. Exercise Regularly
It helps to sweat out excess body fluid and increase circulation, which also helps prevent fluid retention.
Walking, bicycling, tennis, and exercising are all activities that help pump out water and other fluids that can pool in your legs and ankles.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)