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Relieving Your Bloat

Updated on September 5, 2012

Everybody gets that uncomfortable feeling sometimes, and everybody knows what it is. Even if you don’t like to admit it. It’s bloat. Not only do you feel fat, you probably kind of look it. Your ring gets tighter on your finger, your skinny jeans are a bit too “skinny” and can hardly zip up, and then there’s the…*gulp*…gas. Sorry, had to say it, but it’s there and it’s hard to ignore. So is the fact that your socks feel tighter. That’s right, not only do your hands seem to be exploding, but so do your feet and ankles.

Most of us chicks get the bloat when we’re about to get our period, just one of those pesky symptoms of PMS that come every month until we hit menopause (and sometimes it doesn’t even stop then…dammit!). Midol claims to help relieve bloat, but is PMS the only thing that causes it? And are over the counter meds the only way to help our poor bodies get sort of back to normal? Maybe not. Because one thing is for sure: PMS isn’t the sole cause of bloat.

What else causes it? We’ve all heard that salt does, but so does booze and believe it or not--sweeteners. Not just any sweeteners, but artificial sweeteners containing sorbitol, mannitol, and actitol. To make it easier for you, it’s the ones that end in “tol”. Also, being sedentary can cause bloat ALONG with PMS. So there are a lot of culprits involved in your blowing up like a sausage every now and again. So it’s safe to say that it’s not just your monthly cycle playing a crucial role, but so could your nights out at clubs drinking, the stuff you’re dousing in your coffee at work, and skipping your exercise routines a bit too much--stuff that you don’t even think of could be causing you to retain water like a sponge.

Obviously, you can avoid booze if you want. I personally do not drink. At all. I also don’t see what is so appealing about drinking a liquid that smells awful, tastes awful, and causes you to vomit if you have too much. Then again, that’s just me. I also can’t stand artificial sweeteners. I hate, and I mean this with a passion, I really hate any kind of diet tasting drinks, and artificial sweeteners make whatever they’re dumped into taste like it has a big “diet” sign draped across the front of it. Those two things, for me, are easy to avoid. This is not me judging anyone about what they like, I’m just letting you know a little about me. And I maybe able to avoid those two types of bastards that cause bloat, but I succumb to the others: salt, being sedentary, and the one I can’t avoid--PMS. So there you have it.

The good news? Downing over the counter stuff isn’t the only way you can fight the bloat.

What fights the bloat? This threw me for a loop when I heard it: Fluids. And plenty of ‘em. Down as much water as you can and this will help fight what ails you. This is pretty common sense even though it’s probably the last thing a lot of us feel like doing when we’re bloated, but exercise. Get in a good 5 miles on the treadmill in the morning or the evening or whenever you have time. Nobody said you have to kill yourself, but get off your butt and do something!

What else can you do to shrink back to normal? A little dietary alteration could help you, aside from the whole no booze and plenty of water thing like adding more proteins and natural foods to your diet. No one says that you have to go into overdrive and throw out all the junk in your fridge (not that it’s such a bad idea, but you don’t have to go overboard), but you can do yourself a favor by avoiding certain things. Instead of going for candy, grab fruit instead. Instead of drinking soda (come on, you have to know that’s not going to help in this case!) down some all natural apple or orange juice. Instead of having those processed prepackaged chicken nuggets or fast food for dinner, go home and cook a nice meal of mashed potatoes, string beans, and treat yourself to a fresh slab of grilled steak. If you want dessert so bad, get some fresh fruit, but if it’s really not hitting the sugar spot, break into the Haagen Daaz (they’re all natural) or a slice of homemade cheesecake drizzled with a bit of Magic Shell chocolate (when you do it yourself and read the ingredients, you can’t go wrong; again, it’s all natural). No one is telling you to suffer, just be smarter when your body needs a little TLC.

One thing that you may think you should try, but in actuality you should avoid, are water pills. Why? Because diuretics can mess up the electrolytes in your body and lower your potassium. Therefore, they should be taken as a last resort in a mild formula containing hydrochlorothiazide as the main active ingredient. For a natural runner-up to drinking dandelion-root tea, try dandelion-root capsules.

Chronic bloat, however, maybe caused by something a lot more serious like irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease (an inability to digest gluten), or ovarian cancer.

Don’t go jumping to conclusions, though. If you’ve just had too much to eat at a meal, that’s not bloat, it’s just that you stuffed yourself and have to unbutton your clothes a bit ;-).

I wouldn’t think I have to say this, but I will anyway. I’m NOT a physician. Before taking any advice from me, talk to your doctor first. Try not to be like me and try the suggestions I read first (LOL), speak to your medical professional. Maybe I shouldn’t have added that “LOL” there. Oh well…


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