Let’s face it. No one enjoys feeling bloated, but it seems to be even more uncomfortable when parading around in a swim suit. Do you sometimes feel like your stomach is a beach ball, ready to pop? Perhaps you happen to check out your profile in the mirror and wonder if others think you’re pregnant. You are not alone, Dahling! Often what we eat, how we eat and how we cope with stress has a lot to do with the size of our mid-sections.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help trim the belly bulge for the beach this summer.
Believe it or not, many people are sensitive to dairy and don’t even know it. Commercial, ultra-pasteurized dairy is not a real food, Folks. In fact, it can be too congesting for most bodies, wreak digestive distress, cause or exacerbate allergies and make people plain sick. Also, as we age, we don’t produce as much of the enzyme lactase which is responsible for digesting the milk sugar, lactose. Try eliminating dairy from your diet for 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it and see what happens. Bloating is a very common symptom. If you must have dairy, look for raw dairy products.
Sadly, gluten in wheat and other grains can also cause the belly to bulge. Because our wheat has been hybridized to contain more gluten (the protein in wheat that gives bread it’s elasticity) it can be difficult for most of us to digest. Gluten can create inflammation in the gut which can damage your villi and microvilli which compromises their ability to digest food. Food in the gut that isn’t digested ferments, creating gas and bloating. In the end, this inflammation makes your intestinal lining more porous and allows undigested food particles to slip into the blood stream, creating an immune response that’s often unpleasant. This is called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Try eliminating gluten from your diet for 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it. See how you feel and look. You might be surprised.
Increase Fiber and Fluid
Sometimes bloating is simply due to constipation. Food fermenting longer than normal in the colon can cause gas and bloating. The solution is to drink your darn water and plenty of it. Why? Water lubricates the intestinal lining and moves nutrients into the cells and waste out, an essential part of the digestion proces. It also dilutes extra acid around the cells that can create inflammation. So how much water should you drink? Most holistic practitioners agree that you should drink half your weight in ounces. Fiber, of course, also helps scrub the colon and keep it moving. So eat your veggies and fruits with abandon! If you can tolerate grains, toss in some gluten-free grains such as quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat for an extra scrub.
Sadly our society is all about multi-tasking and getting things done. Unfortunately, that doesn’t not work well for the digestive system. When you’re eating, focus on nothing but eating. Eat at a dining table – your coffee table or desk doesn’t cut the mustard! Take one bite and savor it for as long as possible. This may sound a little weird, but let you tongue play with it! Chew that bite until it’s liquid. This allows the enzymes in your food (if it’s raw or slightly steamed) and in your salivary glands to begin the digestion process. This means less burden to your pancreas (which secretes digestive enzymes) later! Eating should be playful and sensual. Enjoy.
Stress contributes to poor digestion and constipation. When you’re stressed, your whole body tightens up. Your colon gets tense just like your neck and shoulders and that just isn’t working well for digestive system health. When elimination slows, stagnation grows and so does your belly. So what’s a powerful antidote to stress and bloating? Play of course! Play is a way to connect to ourselves, be present and experience joy. So what sounds more fun – joy or bloating? I thought so… 😉
So try one or all of these tips and see how they work for you. Feel free to comment here and let us know which tip works best for your body. And maybe you have some additional tips or experiences to share with our Eat. Play. Love. readers!
Baby got backed up?
With my upcoming PLAYdetox with Chelsea Calhoun of Groove Dance Fitness, I thought I’d use a few blog posts to highlight the process of detoxification and its importance to vibrant health. If you’re new to detoxing, you may wonder why you should consider it. Well, if you think about it, you cleanse many things including your home, car (unless you’re my husband…sorry, Cutie), garden and even the outside of your body (at least we hope so). Now, how often do you clean out your insides? Food poisoning, the flu and colonoscopies DO NOT count!
First, your organs need a break just like everything else, and the best way to rest your organs is to take pressure off of the digestive system. This can be accomplished by consuming 1)less food and 2)nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest, nurture the body and support detoxification pathways. When you overuse the body, it starts to break down because it becomes overloaded and gunked up with toxins which create imbalances in the body’s organ systems. So think of detoxification as a way to reboot, renew and rejuvenate. We’ll talk more about supportive nutrient-dense foods in upcoming posts.
Secondly, we most likely need to detox because of either nutritional deficiencies or dietary excesses. We eat too many processed foods, yet we don’t consume enough nutrients. On top of it, the body has to steal nutrients from itself to deal with the “food-like” substances that we consume and other stressors such as pollution, pesticide exposure and a screaming boss or child. Finally, we over-consume food in general, particularly congesting foods such as sugar, refined flours, coffee, rancid fats and alcohol. These excessive foods cause inflammation, pain, sickness and excess acid in the body.
Thirdly, stress, negative thinking, food allergens, toxins, a sedentary lifestyle or too much exercise, dehydration and a poor diet contribute to excess acid in the body, thus disturbing its delicate pH balance. If you’ve been following the holistic health community, you probably have heard about the importance of alkalizing the body. This is because the body likes to keep the blood’s pH between 7.3 and 7.4. In particular, stress, negative thinking and refined foods cause the blood to become too acidic which depletes our cells of oxygen and damages cell membranes and tissues. Remember, we live and die at the cellular level so it’s important to take care of those cells! A sedentary lifestyle and dehydration further exacerbate the problem. This acidity and stagnation of wastes can cause a host of problems including weight gain, joint pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, headaches, migraines, brain fog, gout, acne, frequent colds and other illnesses, food allergies, cardiovascular disease, hormonal imbalances, infertility, yeast overgrowth, constipation and other bowel disorders, low energy, depression, kidney stones and diabetes.
Fourthly, we are inundated with environmental toxins. These chemicals can be found in our food, water supply, body care products, the air we breathe, carpets, furniture fabrics, mattresses, clothing, cars, household and gardening products, medications, plastics, paints, electronic devices and packaging. Here is a comprehensive list of the most common toxins found in our bodies. Not only do these toxins wreak havoc on the digestive system, but they often disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) and nervous systems and may eventually cause cancer. Symptoms of toxic exposure include fatigue, headache, allergies, illness, twitching eyelids, muscle aches, joint pain, vision loss, memory issues, brain fog, hair loss, swollen lymph nodes, sinusitis, loss of libido, impotence, sleep disturbances and skin eruptions. I bet you’re starting to see a pattern!
Fifthly, stress and negative thinking are the BIGGEST toxins out there. Some experts say that negative thoughts and emotions cause two to three more times acid build-up in the body then from the ingestion of acidic foods. Now, that is profound. So if you’re eating poorly and stressed out most of the time (hello, America), you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Regularly cleansing of the mind and the incorporation of affirmations, positive thoughts and/or prayers is imperative to maintaining good health and keeping serious illnesses at bay.
In a nutshell, stress, processed foods and toxic exposure causes our elimination systems to become overwhelmed and backed up. Think of your car filter or HEPA filter in your vacuum or house ventilation system. They get gunked up and don’t work as well after awhile and require cleaning or replacement. Well, it’s difficult to replace your liver, kidneys, skin, blood, bowels, lungs and lymphatic system so you’re only option is to find a lifestyle and cleansing program that supports your body’s natural detoxification processes.
Now detoxification isn’t as scary as you think. Stay tuned and consider cleansing the body, decluttering the mind and lifting your spirits with the PLAYdetox!