I’ve been struggling with hectic bloating recently and it made me think of an interview I did last year sometime, I spoke to a dietician about helping woman get in shape and she gave me some good advice on getting a flat tummy and banishing bloating. For the article we did the basics, but she told me much more than I could put in story, here is everything she had to say about bummy tummies.
Muffin top. Every women’s biggest fear. We spend a lot of time looking for a quick fix to get rid of our extra fat – especially around the tummy area. What we do not know, is that there are several factors that contribute to an ironing board tummy. You cannot do one without the other. These include eating healthy, decreasing your stress levels as well as exercise. Unfortunately, we tend not to balance the three as we should, sometimes resulting in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The symptoms of IBS may include alternating diarrhoea and constipation, abdominal distension and discomfort, flatulence and bloating, just to mention a few. Your tummy will look bigger than what it actually is, due to winds and gas building up. Constipation may also add extra unnecessary kilograms to your weight.
Adding fibre to your diet will help you to achieve regular bowel movement. Start your day off with a high-fibre breakfast like oats, yoghurt and fruit or a slice of wholegrain bread with an egg or peanut butter. You need to eat at least 4-5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily to achieve the desired 25-30g of fibre per day. Always choose foods that are wholegrain or whole wheat. Brown rice, lentils, humus, soya, whole wheat pasta and beans are very high in fibre. Snack on popcorn or whole wheat crackers like Provita rather than potato crisps.
Fibre must be introduced slowly to your diet as it may cause bloating if you do not drink enough fluids. It is important to remember that fibre acts like a sponge, absorbing a lot of water. This is why it is necessary to increase your fluid intake as well. Water, tea or coffee, juice and cold drinks contribute to your fluid intake which should ideally be 20-30ml/kg per day. Optimal fluid intake can prevent constipation.
Try to avoid too much caffeine. Rooibos tea does not contain caffeine and is a better alternative to normal tea or coffee. If you need your daily dose of caffeine, limit it to three cups per day. Unfortunately, chocolate and certain cold drinks also contain caffeine, so be aware of these and choose better alternatives.
Avoid excessive dietary fat and limit your sugar intake. It is true that too much fat makes fat. That is why it is important to choose the better fats like avocado, olive or canola oil, nuts or peanut butter instead of butter or cream. When you eat sugary foods like sweets or chocolates, your blood glucose levels will rise very quickly and you may feel great at first, but this feeling will only last a few minutes before your blood glucose levels will suddenly drop and leave you feeling cranky and exhausted. This is where the low GI foods come in.
When you eat food that has a low GI, you will feel fuller for longer. You can keep your blood sugar levels steady by eating low GI foods because the sugars are absorbed more slowly into the blood stream. A lot of the high fibre foods have a low GI as well as certain fruit and vegetables. You can lower the GI of your meal by adding a protein like an egg, yoghurt or low fat milk to the meal.
Eat a balanced meal consisting of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Do not exclude a certain food group. Try to always opt for the low fat options. Regular small meals are preferable if you struggle with IBS. Also, research indicates several benefits for your gut if you supplement probiotics to your diet.
Manage your stress and anxiety levels. You tummy will feel so much better and less bloated. This is why exercise is so important. One of the many benefits from exercise is decreased stress levels so by doing regular exercise, you will keep the blues at bay.
It is best to avoid excessive use of laxatives, because it can replace the natural function of your bowel causing your body to get dependant on it. Always try to manage constipation with healthy eating and exercise before you take drastic measures.
Abdominal fat is a risk factor for certain chronic diseases like heart disease. When you eat healthy foods, engage in regular exercise, manage your stress levels and have regular bowel movements, your tummy will not only feel better, but also look flatter which will result in a happier you.
Written by Lize Bredell RD(SA)
Information on the dietitian.
My name is Lize Bredell (neé Norval). I am a registered dietitian and obtained my BSc Dietetics degree from Stellenbosch University in 2006. I’ve been in the Eastern Cape since 2007 when I had to establish a Dietetics Department at Humansdorp Hospital. I am also doing some private work on the side and serve on the Eastern Cape branch of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) with my portfolio being communication and public relations. Please visit www.adsa.org.za for more details. I only recently got married and in my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and living life.