Before you can bust that belly balloon, you should know what’s causing it. Meet a few of the likely culprits…

Your fave bevvies

If you top and tail your day with caffeine and alcohol, your belly may not be thanking you for it. These can irritate your gastrointestinal tract and interfere with digestion, while fizzy drinks can contribute to a swollen tummy as the bubbles release carbon dioxide, which subsequently causes bloating. If you’re after a flatter feeling, make water and herbal teas your number-one choice.

Fast food

Nothing beats a bowl of hot chips with chicken salt from the pub, but if you overdo it on the salty junk food, your tum will pay the price. Sodium-packed foods encourage your body to retain water, while processed junk food causes a sluggish digestion, thanks
to its excess grease and fat content.

Beans and cruciferous veg

We’d never tell you to ditch legumes or broccoli – they’re both delicious and good for you! – but if you’re after a flat belly in a hurry, leave them off the menu for a couple of days. Legumes such as beans contain a sugar called oligosaccharide, and cruciferous vegetables contain raffinose – and both of these can cause unwanted digestive side effects in some people.

Eating in a rush

Slow down your pace when you eat and you could magically avoid that puffy feeling. Why? Guzzling your meals means you swallow too much air, which can impact your digestion. Put your fork down between bites and chew slowly.

Stressing out

Your body’s stress response is pretty useful – it helps you get up in the morning and get through a tough workout, for a start. But if it’s triggered all the time (from worries, work or a crazy busy lifestyle) you might find it’s messing with your middle. Overproduction of your stress hormones is linked to abdominal weight gain, and if you’re struggling to catch some zzzs as well, you’ll be more likely to overdo it at mealtimes. Chilling out on the reg will be as good for your body as it is your mind.

Your period

You don’t need us to tell you that your monthly friend can bring with it some unwanted buddies in the form of bloating, food cravings and painful abdominal cramps. Triggered by fluctuating oestrogen and progesterone levels, these symptoms may be relieved by dietary tweaks – chat to a naturopath if this is a regular concern for you.

Best way to beat the bloat? Get moving. Exercise doesn’t just burn kJs and work your core, it aids digestion, too. Long walks, bike rides and yoga will keep your tummy happy.

This story originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Women’s Fitness.

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