A lot of the time we feel “big” in the middle, not always because of fat, but because of what’s going on in our stomach. Keeping our digestive system happy, especially avoiding bloat, can go a long way in helping us look and feel slimmer.
♦Use herbs such as basil, dill, ginger, fennel, and mint – all of these herbs have gas-relieving properties.
♦ Introduce fiber-rich food gradually. Fiber is great, but if you are not used to a fiber-rich diet and suddenly eat a lot of fiber-rich food, your GI tract will act up. Plus, when you up the fiber, you need to up the water to help it move along.
♦ Cook beans properly – soak beans for at least 4 hours and use spices or kombu to improve digestibility. Beans contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, soaking helps remove some of these, and at the same time, helps to increase your absorption of the minerals in the beans.
♦ Notice how your body reacts to vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, and moderate intake if necessary. These cruciferous veggies contain cellulose, a fiber that us humans have a hard time digesting (especially when they’re raw). So you should cook these types of vegetables, or if you want to go a bit wild – learn how to ferment them.
♦ Look for potential food intolerances (e.g. lactose or gluten) – if your body cannot digest and assimilate these properly, they can cause gas.
♦ Yoga poses such as twisting can help relieve gas – these poses stimulate the movement of the smooth muscles of the intestinal walls and help “move things along”.
You can easily gain 3 – 5 pounds, even a dress size, if you are experiencing water retention. For most women, hormonal fluctuation is the main cause of fluid retention. Food allergies and intolerance can also be a cause for water retention.
Although you may not be able to get rid of all the fluids that Mother Nature imposes on you, there are a few things you can do to reduce the “impact”:
♦ Stay hydrated. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to drink water when you are trying to reduce the retention of it, but it actually helps to flush the toxins that are the reason for the retention in the first place. So drink up!
♦ Reduce your salt and sugar intake.
♦ Reduce your toxic load and detox regularly. Try eating only whole foods for 7-10 days. That means eating nothing that comes pre-made in a package, or has a long list of tongue-twisting ingredients. Eat one ingredient foods only, like carrots, leafy greens, apples, and pears. Also, go for organic where ever possible.
♦ Use herbs with diuretic properties such as dandelion greens, uva ursi, corn silk, alfalfa, stinging nettle, celery seeds, and parsley.
♦ Hop in a sauna to help sweat out stored water. This comes with an added bonus – stress relief.
♦ Discover if you may have any food allergies or intolerances by doing an elimination diet. Stop all gluten and dairy products for at least 10 days – then add one back for a week, see how you react, if nothing happens, add back the other. You can also try this for anything else you suspect might be causing you trouble.
♦ Add 2 cups of epsom salts to a hot bath and soak for 20 mins. It has been shown that you can, temporarily, “lose” several inches from your measurements by doing this. The magnesium in the salts pulls out excess fluid that is replaced several hours later with a normal intake of fluids. But what a great way to “slim” down for a special event!
Facilitating elimination can help get rid of “dead weight” that’s bogging you down.
Here are a few things you can do to help “get things going”:
♦ Drink the fresh juice of a carrot and an apple to aid colon detox.
♦ Drink a cup of warm water with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, first thing in the morning – it is very alkalinizing and cleansing.
♦ Ensure adequate intake of dietary fiber – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, flaxseed, psyllium husk etc. Again, remember to increase your intake of water, or you could end up more backed up than when you started.
♦ Eat foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics. These include raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, garlic, onions, greek yogurt (well any yogurt with live active bacterial cultures, but greek contains more protein), fermented vegetables, honey, and high-quality dark chocolate to name a few.
♦ Exercise regularly – movement helps peristalsis (the movements of digestion).
♦ Do yoga poses such as twisting and cat-cow to massage the digestive organs.
These should give you a good start at getting that flat belly. Let me know what works for you.
Is there anything you do, that’s not on this list, to get a flatter stomach?