On most days when we get hungry, we grab something to eat and stop munching when we’re full. If we feel hungry again a few hours later, we’ll prepare more food and eat until we’re satisfied. Then there are occasions where this seemingly simple system runs far less smoothly.
When parties, holidays, and celebrations come around, it’s fairly common for people to eat past the point of fullness. In fact, during the 2017 Super Bowl alone, users who track their diets with the app Lose It! logged 7.2 million more calories than usual. (That’s a ton of mini burgers, beer, and chips!) Users also reported logging about 15 percent more calories than they’d typically consume on a given Thursday on both New Year’s Eve and Thanksgiving.
Thankfully, occasionally eating more than you should won’t cause any significant weight gain. But it sure can make you feel like you’ve ballooned overnight. To help you start looking and feeling like your old self again, we’ve pulled some of our best-ever flat-belly tips. Pick a handful you think you can work into your routine to feel less bloated and look leaner by the end of the day! And if after you’re through reading, you still feel like you need some additional pointers, don’t miss these 24 Ways to Flatten Your Belly in 24 Hours.
Refill Your Water Glass
We get it: When you can barely button your jeans, the last thing you want to do is fill your stomach up with water. But ironically, sipping H20 throughout the day is exactly what you should do. “If you are dehydrated, your body will retain water, which can lead to bloating,” says Alissa Rumsey, R.D. and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Staying hydrated also speeds up digestion and can counteract the effects of salt and carb-induced bloating.” To see your flat belly return by sundown, aim for 6 to 8 glasses of water throughout the day. And if you’re not a fan of plain H20, whip up a batch of fruit-infused detox water.
If you’re drinking more fluids, that’s great news! But if you’re sucking them down through a straw, your efforts to de-bloat may be for naught. The reason: Sipping through a straw can cause you to take in excess air which can lead to, you guessed it, more bloat. Ditch the straws until you see your tight tummy return.
Pop an Antacid
If you feel like your favorite jeans are a tad too tight, water retention may not be the only thing to blame. You may have gas trapped in your stomach, too. To fight back, pop an over-the-counter antacid like Tums to help break up the bubbles hanging out in your digestive track. Once the drugs kick in, your trimmer tummy should reappear in no time! For more ways to beat the bloat, don’t miss these 25 Best Foods That Beat Bloating.
Match Your Pants to Your Shirt
Though no one besides you will likely notice your food baby, if you’re feeling self-conscious about your appearance, there are few fashion tricks that can help you look instantly trimmer. One of the easiest? Match your shirt with your pants and shoes. This works especially well if you dress in head-to-toe black. If this look is too far removed from your typical style, throw on some funky-colored shoes or some colorful accessories to shake things up a bit.
Wear a V-Neck
Another easy and effective way to seem slimmer: throw on a v-neck shirt. Fashion experts say this helps make the neck appear longer, which can help you look more linear overall.
Ditch The Pleats
Unlike pleats, pants with a flat front create an unbroken line across the midsection, which can help you look and feel taller and leaner. Throw on some flat-front pants with a v-neck to look and feel your best after a binge. For more quick and easy ways to shrink your gut—or at least make it look like you did—don’t miss these 25 Best Foods for Instant Detox.
Add a Banana to Your Breakfast
Bananas are packed with potassium, a nutrient that helps regulate fluid balance to flatten belly bloat. Slice one up and add it to your morning oatmeal, or eat one along with some eggs for a filling A.M. meal.
Wake Up With Tea
The pressure, the puffy stomach, the self-consciousness—hibiscus tea can help you ditch all of it. According to numerous studies, flavonoids and other compounds found in the hibiscus plant help to counteract bloating by influencing how aldosterone, the hormone that regulates water and electrolytes balance, affects the body. Just don’t sweeten it with Splenda or Sweet 'N Low. More on that, next…
Say “No” to Sweeteners
Packaged sugar-free and “diet” food like candy, cola and certain snack bars may save you calories, but they’re filled with chemicals that can cause your stomach to expand like a pufferfish.
“Sugar-free foods and sweeteners (like Splenda) are filled with sugar alcohols that contain sweet-tasting indigestible compounds,” explains Rumsey. “Since our bodies can't process them as they would traditional sugar, they can often cause gas and bloating.” That’s the opposite of what you want when you already feel like a balloon.
Don’t Mask Bad Breath
It may make your breath minty fresh, but chewing gum also causes you to swallow tummy-bloating air. Plus, many gums also contain sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol that can cause or worsen bloat. If you have to have something to chomp on, go for an organic variety like Glee or Simply gum instead. They’re still low-cal, but they don’t use those sweeteners that’ll make you puff up.
No matter how hungry you are when you sit down to eat, don’t scarf down your food. Eating too quickly can cause you to swallow excess air, which can exacerbate gas and bloat. Follow mom’s advice to eat slowly, and be sure to chew with your mouth closed to ensure you don’t make the bloating worse.
If you already feel like you’re sporting a temporary beer belly, additional alcohol will only add to that feeling. “Large amounts of alcohol can slow stomach emptying, which can make you feel heavy and bloated,” explains Rumsey. “Alcohol also can cause you to retain water, so you’ll feel puffier. This is further exacerbated by alcohol's diuretic effect, as a dehydrated body will retain more water than a hydrated one.” To keep bloat at bay in the future, Rumsey suggests cutting yourself off after two drinks (preferably one of these healthy alcoholic drinks) and alternate each boozy sip with a glass of water to stay hydrated.
Avoid Certain Veggies
Even though they’re filled with health-promoting nutrients, certain vegetables also contain sneaky belly bloaters. That said, you should avoid them if you’re already feeling “blah” after overeating. White onions, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, raw spinach and button mushrooms are just a few of the most common offenders. For a more comprehensive list of sneaky belly-bloaters, dig into our special report 35 Things That Give You a Bloated Stomach.
Nix the Bubbles
Though you may love the fizzy, carbonated bubbles in sparkling water and seltzer, you won’t love how they get trapped in your stomach and cause it to swell like a balloon. Stay away if from the stuff if you’re already feeling bloated. It will only make matters worse.
Lay Off the Carbs
Generally speaking, carbs are not the enemy. In fact, they're your body's go-to fuel source. But in order to convert carbs into glycogen, the type of energy that’s stored in your liver and muscles, carbs need to bind with water. So the more carbs you consume, the most water your body will cling on to, which can exacerbate feelings of bloat. Dialing back on carbs for a day or two can help bring your body to equilibrium. Check out these 22 Carb-Cutting Hacks Diet Experts Love for some tasty ideas.
Squeeze in a Workout
You probably already know that sitting too much can lead to weight gain and diminished health, but did you know that it can also cause worsen belly bloat? The reason: When you’re not moving, neither are your bowels or gas. Thankfully, a short walk outside or a 10-minute workout session in your living room are all that’s needed to keep things regular and help fight back against bloat.
Have Tropical Snack
Packed with fiber and boasting a mild diuretic effect, pineapple has also been proven to keep belly bloat under control. According to research published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, pineapple can reduce colonic inflammation that may be causing you to bloat. Papaya, another tropic fruit we love, contains the enzymes bromelain and papain, which both help banish bloat by breaking down protein and aiding digestion. Make a fruit salad with both of these tropic fruits or blend them together with some water and protein powders for a belly-flattening, sippable snack.
Check for Salt & Fat
Foods like pizza, fries and burgers often cause belly boat because they’re filled with salt and fat. These nutrients, when consumed in excess, can lead to water retention and delayed stomach emptying, leaving you uncomfortably full and bloated. Although it may seem obvious, eating more salty and fatty foods the next day will only make matters worse. Everything from soup and frozen meals to fast food and pasta sauce can be filled salt and fat, so be sure to carefully read food labels before digging in.
Inflammation, often brought on by spicy foods, dairy, and chemical additives, may be to blame for your puffy tummy. According to numerous studies, ginger, traditionally used to ease stomach pain, blocks several genes and enzymes in the body that promote bloat-causing inflammation. If you prefer the taste of chai tea, typically made from a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger, that may also do the trick—but may be less potent. To avoid inflammation in the future, be sure to stay away from these 14 Foods That Cause Inflammation.
Take a Soak
Typically take a bath after a long day? Adding two cups of Epsom salt to the water can help deflate your belly by pulling excess water out of your body. To avoid dehydration, only do this ritual once a week.