Confessions of a Health Coach: by Lisa Breitenwischer, CHHC, AADP, ERYT 500
The other day, much to my chagrin, I was inflicted with a bloated belly that had me feeling miserable. It had been quite some time since experiencing such discomfort and I wanted to rectify the situation, sooner then later. I typed in my search engine “best foods to de-bloat quickly” and within seconds popped up: ginger, turmeric, pepper, yogurt, bananas, lemons and coconut water. I paused for a second and thought “interesting…all of these foods are ingredients that I use in my morning smoothie.” For the past several months, I’ve been drinking this concoction due to the great health benefits from all of the ingredients and because it tastes good, but never considered the anti-bloating benefits!
For example: in addition to relieving bloat, ginger is good for brain function and soothing the digestive track; turmeric decreases inflammation in joints; pepper helps stimulate digestive juices; bananas increase potassium; and coconut water restores hydration & electrolytes 3x faster than regular water.
Types of Bloating
Now before I continue, I need to explain that there are two different types of bloat – gas bloat and water bloat – and both can make you feel very uncomfortable. Gas bloat often occurs after eating certain foods or eating too quickly, which causes your belly to expand, forcing you to unbutton your jeans. Water bloat makes you feel puffy all over (think puffer fish), which may keep you in sweat pants and t-shirt longer than you’d like.
Before curing any type of bloat, you need to determine the cause so you can choose the most appropriate way to alleviate it. In my case, the cause was a very fibrous lunch consisting of balsamic steamed lentils over salad greens, cruciferous veggies, accompanied by a bottle of seltzer water (a beverage that triggers bloat or gas in folks with sensitive digestive tracts). Don’t get me wrong, each one of these foods are healthy and delicious, including the seltzer as it increases acid levels and kills bacteria, but all of them can create a gassy bloat from time to time. For me, combining them all created my perfect storm. Bloating of this type is basically gas trapped in the stomach, small intestine, or colon. I should know better, right? But like I mentioned in the title, “it happens to the best of us!”
The Quick Fix
To relieve my condition, I decided to deconstruct my smoothie by taking a few of the ingredients and make a juice adding Vita Coco coconut water, a 1-inch chunk of ginger, 1/2 a lemon, and a few stalks of celery in my blender and gave it a whirl. (you can thin it out adding more filtered water or strain). I sipped on it and felt better that afternoon. Other alternatives could be to have some plain Greek yogurt, a banana, fennel, apple cider vinegar and to sip on water throughout the day.
If you are retaining water and feeling bloated, you could whip up the same drink or seek out foods with lots of potassium such as coconut water, bananas, Swiss chard or spinach, celery, cucumbers and of course, filtered water, all which will help decrease that swollen feeling.
Nobody’s perfect including Health Coaches, but as I tell my nutrition clients “if you can learn from what ever message your body is sending you, you can start to make small changes that make huge impacts on your health & wellness”. I will continue eating my lentil salads, but will definitely skip having any carbonated beverage with my meals.
*See this month’s recipe to start your day with “My Morning Smoothie”.