Feeling like a human balloon is enough to ruin anyone’s day. Whether you’re dealing with a one-off food hangover after a night of epic eating, or haven’t been able to button your pants for the past few weeks, the stomach bloat struggle is real.
“Anything from excess sugar or salt, to greasy foods, artificial ingredients, or chewing gum can lead to feelings of [abdominal] bloating,” says Keri Glassman, M.S., R.D., creator of Nutritious Life. Even cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts can do you in.
Gassiness can lead to bloating, though often we feel bloated because our bodies are holding onto more water than usual, says Glassman. When we eat carbs or sugar, our bodies break it down into molecules called glycogen, which we store in our muscles and use for energy, according to the National Council on Strength and Fitness. In order to store this glycogen, we also need to store water—about two grams of it per gram of glycogen. Luckily, there are a several things you can do to help flush that excess H20, gas, and discomfort away.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Wait, more water? Yep, upping your agua intake can actually help you flatten out when you feel like a human blob. “Drinking water can help your body flush out excess water it’s holding onto,” says Glassman. Just stay away from bubbles, which can trap extra air in your stomach and make you feel super full.
Be Wary Of Dairy
Since many of us produce less of the enzyme lactase that helps us digest dairy as we age, dairy can be another common culprit of gas, bloating, and other tummy troubles. Cut out dairy for a few days (we’ll miss you, string cheese) and see how you feel, Glassman suggests.
If you can handle dairy no problem, incorporate a serving of yogurt into your day. The bacteria in yogurt, called probiotics, can actually promote a healthy gut, she explains. Spoon yourself some yogurt for breakfast to help keep last night’s late-night noms from weighing you down all day.
Cut Down On Carbs
Remember those glycogen molecules we talked about? Nixing processed carbs the day after an indulgent meal can help reduce the sensation of being a walking, talking, bouncy house as you use all that glycogen and H20 you’ve stashed away, says Glassman. Instead, focus on getting your carbs from fiber-filled sources like root veggies or oats.
Nom On These MVP Veggies
While there’s not a ton of research about the effectiveness of natural substances used as diuretics, a few of our favorite healthy foods have been said to flush extra water from our bodies. “Celery and fennel are known as natural diuretics,” says Glassman. (Diuretics like water pills make our kidneys produce more urine, which shuttles water and sodium out of the body, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.)
In addition, asparagus is loaded with prebiotic fiber, which can help a sluggish gut get back to normal, says Glassman. Prebiotic fiber is a non-digestible substance found in whole foods that can promote probiotic (function in your gut, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Choose Fruit Wisely
Some types of fruit contain a lot more sugar than others, and don’t sit well in your stomach, says Glassman. “Berries, oranges, and grapefruit are all flat belly-friendly fruits because they digest easily and are lower in sugar,” she says.
On the other hand, pineapple—which is higher in sugar—contains an enzyme called bromelain that helps digest protein, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. Eating pineapple may promote better digestion and ease some of the GI discomfort that can go along with bloating, says Glassman.
Sip On These
Grab your mug and get steeping: Certain teas may help you bounce back from a food binge. “Peppermint is a great natural remedy for indigestion and other stomach troubles,” says Glassman. It has a relaxing effect on the muscles of your GI system, and can promote better digestion and relieve gas buildup, says the UMMC.
Dandelion, which contains vitamins and minerals like vitamin D and potassium, may also help you release water weight. According to the UMMC, dandelion leaves have diuretic properties, and may help you flush out extra H20.
Related: A tea for every mood and taste bud.
Break Bad Habits
To keep bloating at bay, cut back on artificial ingredients and mindless eating. “Since our bodies aren’t designed to digest artificial ingredients found in many of the foods we eat, they may end up causing digestive troubles and fermenting in the colon, causing gas,” says Glassman. Read your nutrition labels and back away from ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Eating smaller meals and practicing mindful eating can also prevent you from feeling bloated, says Glassman. Eating slowly and chewing your food well can prevent you from going overboard on salt or carbs (like bottomless restaurant bread baskets) and keep excess air from ending up in your stomach, she explains.