Got the post-Festive Season bloat?! Local Dietitian/Nutritionist Katrina Mills from Body Fusion explains why, and suggests way to alleviate your discomfort. Thanks Katrina!
Changes in your normal diet, irregular meal timings, a slower, more relaxed pace of life are all characteristic of holidays. Synonymous with this is also a change in bowel movements. Warmer weather, more social events and less scheduled activity challenges the body and the bowels often resulting in bloating, constipation, gas & wind. There are many contributing factors so here is our guide to beating the bloat this summer season:
Eat more fibre
Fibre is the most underrated nutrient (in our opinion). Eating enough dietary fibre is one of the best ways to keep your bowels regular and reduce constipation. Holidays often mean later breakfasts, grazing on snacks like cheese, crackers & chips topped off with big dinners. It is easy to miss our on eating fibre rich foods that help you meet your daily fibre target of 30g. High fibre foods include vegetables/salads, fruit, nuts & grains, to give you an idea; one serving (1 cup) of broccoli has about 8g of fibre!
Always ask for more vegetables
Restaurants are remarkably restrictive on their vegetable portions, so always order a side salad or a bowl of steamed vegetables to accompany your meal. If you are attending a BBQ, offer to bring a big salad and fill up half your plate with the green stuff (try doing it first before anything else touches your plate).
Snack on fruit
A medium piece of fruit has about 4g of fibre; eating 2 pieces a day helps you meet 25% of your daily fibre needs. Make the most of beautiful summer fruits and use them as your snacks. Always eat fruit with their skin on, like kiwifruits and stone fruits.
For many the summer months can result in swelling & fluid retention (oedema) which occurs when the body’s lymphatic system isn’t able to remove all of the fluid from tissues. There is a wide range of causes including hot weather, hormone levels, medications and even a high salt diet. Lowering the amount of salt you eat can help ease mild fluid retention because salt and water are stored together in the body. Some of our favourite party foods & restaurant meals are deceivingly high in sodium (or salt).
Read the labels
When choosing snacks, quick and easy sauces and dips, look at the sodium levels on the nutrition information panel. Aim for products that have less than 120mg/100g or choose the lowest sodium option available.
Swap the canapés
Dips, cheese, salted crackers, chips & deli meats like salami, cabanossi and prosciutto are all very high in salt. Instead swap to grainy, no added salt crackers, vegetable dipping sticks and homemade dips instead.
Contrary to what you may think, drinking enough water will actually help the body release stored fluid and reduce fluid retention. Dehydration also contributes largely to constipation, your stool requires moisture to form properly into a form that is easy to pass.
Replace the fizz
Both alcohol and soft drinks are known as diuretics and increase your urine production. Drinking more of these in the hot summer months, while on holidays & at social occasions puts you at a greater risk of constipation.
Watch the bubbles
Champagne, beer/cider and carbonated drinks can also lead to bloating due to the build up of gas within your stomach. Slow down your drinking, replace every second glass of fizz with water, it is the most effective way to manage dehydration.
Long periods of sitting & inactivity can reduce your regularity of bowel movements. To stimulate them make sure you still spend at least 30-60 minutes per day doing some exercise, whether that be an evening walk, game of backyard cricket or a swim at the beach.
When it comes to the frequency of passing your stools it is easy to ‘hold on’ longer than you normally would when you are preoccupied with other activities or travelling for long periods of time. Resisting to pass your bowel motions causes water to be reabsorbed back into the colon making it harder to pass stools. This is the same for children who often get distracted by games, activities and changes to routine. Encourage them to go to the toilet whenever they feel the urge, the same goes for adults.
Not all bloating is caused by over eating or inactivity; it can also affected by certain carbohydrate molecules that aren’t completely digested in your gut. These are known as FODMAPs, fermentable oligosaccharide, disaccharide, monosaccharide and polyols. Instead of being broken down in your intestine they pass through intact and your gut bacteria feed off the molecules, releasing gases resulting in bloating, wind and constipation. These symptoms are common; approximately 1 in 7 Aussie’s experience irritable bowel related symptoms and often find relief once they adjust their diets. Common troublemakers are onion, garlic, chickpeas, cauliflower and some fruits. If you want to know more about FODMAP foods then come and see us, we can help suss out what is going on down there!
Katrina Mills is an enthusiastic and driven dietitian/nutritionist who was inspired by food and nutrition from a young age. She believes that whole, natural foods should be one of the cornerstones of a balanced, healthy lifestyle that can be enjoyed by all – no matter what walk of life. You can find out more about Katrina here
Address: 221 Longueville Road, Lane Cove NSW 2066
Phone: 0410 533 213