It isn’t uncommon for the day of the wedding to be referred to as the biggest event in a your life. Whether or not you believe that to be the case, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bride (or groom!) that doesn’t want to look her personal best on a day of such magnitude. Nothing can be more debilitating than waking up on that special morning only to find an extra belly bump that wasn’t there before. Ever wonder what you should eat to reduce bloating before dress shopping or a fitting? We’ll walk you through some very straightforward tips to avoid the situation.
Before we do, let’s take a look at what bloating actually is!
Abdominal bloating occurs when the gastrointestinal tract is filled with air or gas, most often associated with the stomach specifically. Many people describe bloating as feeling full, tight, or swollen in the abdomen. The abdomen itself may also be swollen or distended, hard, and painful.
Some of the symptoms that commonly accompany bloating are excessive gas (flatulence), frequent burping or belching, and abdominal rumbling or gurgles. It can interfere with day-to-day comfort while going through normal activities, but it can be even more embarrassing during a major event like a wedding day (Donahue, 2020).
The simplest way to reduce or avoid bloating is to keep a close eye on your sodium intake. It’s especially important to bear in mind that any prepared or processed foods contain lots of sodium. When in doubt, it’s far more helpful to prepare your own food from natural ingredients – if you find yourself unwrapping your food from a package, it may not be the best bet for you.
The main reason that salty foods contribute to bloating is that water loves sodium! The result of this is water retention, and puffiness in the body. It may sound a little backward, but the best way to get rid of sodium bloat causing water retention is to drink more water since it flushes out the excess salt.
This one might blow your mind. Although drinking from a straw has numerous benefits, like avoiding the rim of a glass and preventing stains on the front of your teeth, it actually has some drawbacks as well! Placing a straw in a drink inevitably captures a little bit of air. When you sip, this air travels to your digestive tract, causing a slight increase in gas and bloating. Avoiding straws is recommended for reducing excess gas. Unrelated to bloating, if you need a little more inspiration to ditch the straw, it can cause wrinkling around the lips from constant puckering to sip, and it can also contribute to the staining of your back teeth (Nunez, 2020).
This one is super simple. Chewing gum can cause you to swallow extra air, simply because your mouth is opening and closing while you have ‘food’ in your mouth. Talking while chewing gum is even worse! Skip the gum altogether on your special day. Pop a mint instead if you’re worried about that first kiss (Gunnars, 2018).
There are essentially two sources of gas in the digestive system. One occurs naturally in the gut – the gas is produced by bacteria. The other is air or gas that is swallowed when you eat or drink (which can happen with straws or chewing gum, as we discussed). Another big offender here is carbonated beverages, like pop or soda water – anything fizzy, really.
You may think that sipping Perrier is the way to go throughout the day (because staying hydrated is key) but it’s not. Bubbly drinks contain carbon dioxide, a gas that can be released from the liquid after it reaches your stomach. If you need to kick your water up a notch, add some lemon or lime. Peppermint tea is also a great alternative that can help reduce bloating (Zelman, n.d.).
Being ‘stuffed’ can feel like you’re bloated, but the real issue is that you simply ate too much. Instead of eating bigger meals and feeling uncomfortable afterward, try eating smaller portion sizes more frequently throughout the day.
Some people have a predisposition to feeling discomfort from a smaller amount of food than people who rarely feel bloated. The best thing you can do in addition to having smaller meals is to make sure you’re chewing your food properly! Mastication (a fancy word for chewing) is incredibly important in the digestion process – it’s the first step! Chewing your food better can have a two-fold effect. It reduces the amount of air you swallow with the food (which causes bloating) and it also makes you eat slower, which is linked to more moderate food intake and smaller portions (Li, 2011).
Drink, drink, drink! People think that drinking too much water will cause bloating and water retention but it’s actually the complete opposite. Increasing your water intake will flush the body of any excess sodium – the culprit behind water retention. That’s right – the more water you drink, the less your body will hold on to the water and make you puffy.
Just make sure you’re sticking to flat water (you can even flavour it naturally with a slice of lemon). The fizzy stuff will have the opposite effect that you’re aiming for (Gunnars, 2018).
There are a few foods that some studies suggest may help reduce bloating, such as peppermint tea, ginger, pineapple, and parsley. Research has also shown that incorporating certain probiotics can help reduce bloating. While reaching for a cup of yogurt may do the trick, there are multiple probiotic supplements on the market, many of which claim to help with bloating specifically. Do your research first, and when in doubt, contact a nutritionist (or better yet, a registered dietician) and get some straight answers (Wheaton, 2020).
It might seem like reaching for something simple like cut carrots and celery would be a good idea to snack on. In reality, raw, cruciferous vegetables are tough to digest because they’re so fibrous. If you have an unhealthy gastrointestinal tract or food sensitivities, you’re more likely to have a bad reaction to digesting raw vegetables (Melero, 2020).
Don’t avoid the veggies altogether though! Something as simple as a quick steaming can make them far more digestible, reducing the chances of bloating while maintaining the nutritional quality. Cooking is key!
Please don’t do it – even if you think it would be the obvious solution. When you stop eating entirely, your body can freak out and go into survival mode. Your body is constantly searching for something to digest, so if you’re skipping meals, the stomach will instead create a gas, which in turn leads to bloating (Stinchcombe, 2018).
Eat many small meals to keep your stomach happy. Gorging on a large meal will cause bloating, but consuming smaller portion sizes will keep your belly the way it should be.
Most importantly, starving yourself can lead to a decrease in blood sugar, which can lead to fainting. The big day is stressful enough as it is, the last thing you need is to go face down at the altar!
Donohue, M. 2020. What’s Causing My Abdominal Bloating, and How Do I Treat It? https://www.healthline.com/health/abdominal-bloating
Gunnars, 2018. 11 Proven ways to reduce or eliminate bloating. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-ways-to-reduce-bloating
Li, J. 2011. Improvement in chewing activity reduces energy intake in one meal and modulates plasma gut hormone concentrations in obese and lean young Chinese men. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21775556/
Melero, A. 2020. This Trendy Superfood Could Be Causing Bloating Issues. https://www.thezoereport.com/p/the-best-way-to-eat-fruits-vegetables-to-keep-bloating-away-19633388
Nunez, K. 2020. Should you drink with a straw? https://www.healthline.com/health/drinking-through-a-straw
Stinchcombe, 2018. Why am I always bloated? https://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/a24182952/why-am-i-always-bloated/
Wheaton, K. 2020. Probiotics for bloating. https://www.optibacprobiotics.com/learning-lab/in-depth/gut-health/probiotics-for-bloating
Zelman, K. n.d. 10 flat belly tips. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/10-flat-belly-tips