Never suffer from a bloated stomach again, before a night out

Dietitians tell us how to relieve excess gas trapped along the digestive tract

Ever tried to shimmy into your jeans in the morning and barely managed to button them? No, you did not outgrow your daily pair overnight. You haven’t even had anything to eat yet, so this isn’t a ‘food baby’. You’re nursing excess air or gas in the stomach or the gut. It feels a lot like pins and needles under the ribcage on bad days; and at its worst, you’re doubled over in bed from cramps. Just to be sure, poke your stomach. If you’re met with less squish and more taut belly, that’s not fat but bloating caused by gas. But not everyone likes the uncomfortable feeling of a tight drum tummy. Nutritionists help us understand why it happens and what lifestyle habits and foods we can incorporate to relieve it.

The most likely cause for bloating is eating too much too quickly. Scarfing down your food in a hurry also lets in a lot of air into your stomach, adding to the bloat. Yu can fix bloating at home. All you have to do is ensure ideal conditions for the body to digest food in peace. These are ‘low-hanging fruit’ tips, ones that should be part of our daily routine but, unfortunately, are not. And it begins with something as simple as drinking water.

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

We spend so much time in air-conditioned indoors that we rarely feel thirsty anymore. About 60 to 70 per cent of our body is water. In order for the body to function properly, we need to hydrate. In general, you should drink two to three litres of water every day.

2. Chew your food

Yes, we do chew our food but not long enough for it to become “baby puree”. Our digestive process begins in the mouth. The more we break the food down, the easier it is for the gut to do the same. Count to 20 to 30 chews before swallowing that morsel.

3. Eat slowly

Gobbling down your food in a hurry means you’re eating air as well. “You’re introducing less air into the stomach if you eat slowly.

Walk around a bit

If you’ve had a meal that’s not settling well, go for a walk. Exercising, walking and moving our body are very important. This gets the peristalsis [contractions] of the intestinal muscles help move the food along. It doesn’t have to be a full cardio routine, just some “low-intensity movement” will do. If you don’t want to step out after dinner, walk up and down the length of your house for a few minutes.

Foods to relieve bloating

You can repair your gut health by using items in the pantry or fridge. A good rule of thumb is to have a light dinner with easily digested proteins like eggs, tofu and fish to avoid waking up with a bloated stomach. Here are some probiotics (good bacteria), teas and potassium-rich foods that can help reduce gas:

Fermented foods

When food is broken down by yeast and bacteria, it undergoes a process called fermentation. Some fermented foods contain live microorganisms that supply the gut with good bacteria, stomping out gas. Several cultures have their own traditional probiotic foods like kimchi (fermented vegetables in Korea), tempeh (fermented soybeans in Indonesia) and sauerkraut (fermented cabbage in Germany). Our easiest access to a cup full of beneficial bacteria is yogurt. If there’s a bottle of apple cider vinegar in your fridge, then dilute a dollop of it in water and drink it or drizzle it over your salad.

Herbal teas

Take the following teas to ease the digestive process: Fennel tea, peppermint tea, ginger root tea, artichoke leaf tea or potassium-rich foods.

Bloating can happen in the face, hands and fingers, too. Have you ever woken up with a puffy face? It’s because your body is holding on to water from last night’s salty dinner. To balance its sodium-to-water ratio, our bodies will retain water till the excess sodium is flushed out. And potassium helps speed up that process.