Feeling bloated is never a pleasant sensation; when your stomach doesn’t feel good, none of you feels good. Most of us can relate to this feeling; if not everyday, at least here and there.
Sometimes we work so hard at cultivating healthy habits to feel light and energetic, only to feel like a slug after the holiday season, a cheat-week on vacation, or a series of late nights with friends visiting. Maybe it’s been a few days since you’ve exercised, or you feel gross after a celebratory (i.e, rich and heavy) meal. Perhaps you accidentally ate something you’re sensitive to and your digestion is struggling, or you’re constipated. No matter what the reason is, here are some simple tips to help get rid of that gut bloat and reduce your inflammation (which will also help with PMS bloating and period symptoms).
1. Hydrate with Anti-Inflammatories
Most of us get dehydrated easily, and we forget how much it impacts our performance, but dehydration can have problematic side effects. Start and end your day with lemon water; in addition to being a digestive nutrient, lemon juice is anti-inflammatory and is stimulating for the circulatory system and has been shown to assist digestive health. Another option is to drink green tea in the morning; green tea has natural caffeine and is gently stimulating for your circulation, digestion, and energy. Mint green tea tastes even better and is soothing for your stomach. Keep a full water bottle with you through the day as a hydration reminder, maybe add a mint or raspberry tea bag with ice and a drop of raw honey to make herbal iced tea. Ginger/ginger combo teas are great for calming the stomach, assisting digestion and easing inflammation.
Then, at night before bed, drink warm lemon water (extra points if you add ginger and cinnamon) to simultaneously calm your nervous system, soothe your digestion, and fire your metabolism to continue burning through sleep.
2. Dine Light and Early
As the old saying goes: “eat breakfast like a king; lunch like a prince; dinner like a pauper.” Eating large amounts of food can cause excessive gas and bloating, and eating big meals at night also affects your ability to sleep well and interferes with your body’s nightly cell-repair ritual by making it continue prolonged digestion instead. Eat a light dinner, and earlier rather than later. Try to make it low on sodium; sodium can cause bloating and swelling. Learn to check food labels and regulate your salt-shaking skills.
Many health experts recommend intermittent fasting as a good health habit, but no two body systems are the same and what works for some won’t necessarily work for others. Some people need a healthy snack at night for blood sugar, or some need to eat right after they wake up. A good practice way to incorporate fasting but still eat breakfast for healthy blood sugar is to stop eating early in the evening (unless medically unwise), like by 7pm, so your digestion can be finished by bedtime.
Eating big meals at night can interfere with your body’s nightly cell-repair ritual by making it continue digestion instead.
Do what works for your body but pay attention to what you’re eating, especially at the beginning and end of the day (best time for clean protein, natural fats, and produce); save the more calorie-dense foods for the middle part of the day. Also, be sure to be aware of any food sensitivities/food allergies, because these can majorly affect our body’s inflammatory response and cause bloating and other symptoms.
3. Get Your Steps in and Stretch
Besides whatever exercise you choose to do that day, add at least 5,000 steps to walk during the day. As I’m sure you’ve heard at least once by now, walking is one of the most beneficial exercises and can be relaxing as well as regenerative. You can set yourself little alarms for different periods throughout the day to remind yourself to climb some stairs for a few minutes, or go on a short walk, or do a minute of jumping jacks (those actually can really help get rid of gas and bloat). For final circulation, stretch in the evening before bed. Stretching has been shown to stimulate circulation and relieve inflammation and can also release gas that causes bloating.
4. Get Quality Sleep
Early to bed, early to rise – we’ve heard it plenty of times, but how often does it make the list of top priorities? Better sleep habits can always be a renewed resolution. Sleep is the under-appreciated key to health and vitality that always receives minimal attention, but studies show sleep is crucial for immune function to prevent inflammation and disease. Quality sleep seems to be a healing factor for all ailments and can always make you feel better when you’re sick; this is because deep sleep is when cell repair happens, which includes tissue restoration, hormone regulation, and immunity and metabolism strengthening. With all this subconscious activity, your body literally regenerates its vitality while you sleep! Loss of sleep simply results in a backup of cell regeneration.
When you feel sluggish and your gut is swollen, you probably don’t feel good, and plus, it can really affect your day-to-day life activities. It’s frustrating to feel bloated, even more so when it happens chronically. Some of us may not be able to follow all these tips every day, but when you really feel bloated, just a couple of days of this routine might make a world of difference.
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