In the past 50 years, the average woman’s waist measurement has increased from 68cm to 86cm, as we’ve stopped adding weight to our hips and thighs, and started gaining it around our middles.
To combat this, here’s 20 ways to beat the bloat for good:
1. You’ve got toxic overload
If your big tum is accompanied by a lack of drive, depression, irritability or poor memory, don’t rush to blame the run up to or the run down from menopause.
It could be auto-intoxication where toxic waste that isn’t cleared properly from the gut is reabsorbed and finds a home in fatty deposits – yuk!
Homeopathic healer, Margo Maronne, recommends that we clean our gut regularly. She says: “You can go on a kilojoule-controlled diet and do all the exercises and still that weight around the middle won’t shift until you get rid of those toxins.
“Cleaning your gut can definitely flatten your tum and if you suffer from PMS or you’re going through menopause, it soothes symptoms and calms those mood swings.”
So how do we do it? Margo suggests a combination of a gut-cleaning diet and supplements plus a couple of interesting add-ons to make it easy. “Do it for 20 days, four times a year, and you’ll keep your tum flat, improve your skin and brighten your disposition.”
The gut-cleaning diet
This diet is short and really easy to follow – just cut out the following:
- Foods and drinks containing preservatives and artificial colourings and flavourings.
- Milk, dairy foods or chicken that isn’t organic (because they contain antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides).
- Processed foods, refined sugar (cakes, pastries and biscuits); artificial sugar.
- Fizzy drinks (colas, etc).
- Alcohol and cigarettes.
2. You’re holding fluids
It’s the big girls’ excuse, but it happens. Diuretics are not an option. Choose natural, fibre-rich fluid flushers like apples, celery, carrots, cucumber and parsley. But who wants to eat tons of them? Get smart and juice them for a great flushing effect. Try these:
Carrot and cucumber: Juice 4 carrots, ½ cucumber and a big bunch of parsley. Give it a stir and drink immediately. Apples and cucumber are great diuretics and carrots are fab antioxidants.
Apple, ginger and pineapple: Juice 1 apple, ½ pineapple, 1cm ginger. Apples are flushing, pineapple cleansing and ginger boosts circulation.
Parsley, apple and carrot: Juice 3 carrots, 2 apples, 3 celery sticks and a bunch of parsley. This is sodium-light and good at sorting fluid retention.
3. You’re eating food in the wrong order
And fruit is usually the culprit. Fruit is digested fast, so if you eat it for dessert, it will ferment in the gut while it waits for the rest of your meal to digest slowly. This can lead to a swollen tum and an uncomfortable feeling. Keep fruit for breakfast when you can eat as much of it as you like. Or eat two hours before or after a meal.
4. Your food doesn’t like you
A large number of people in South Africa have a sensitivity to wheat, which is known to cause bloating because of refined carbs and sugars.
As US dermatologist Dr Perricone rightly says: “It’s probably the bun rather than the burger that’s going to get you.” To kill bloat, cut out refined carbs – white bread, pasta, white rice, biscuits and cakes.
If you want a super-flat tum and clear skin, try his diet of mostly salmon, tuna, turkey, salad and berries – dull after a while, but crikey it works! Read Dr Nicholas Perricone’s Programme (HarperCollins, R129,95 from Kalahari).
5. Your posture is wrong
Stand straight with shoulders relaxed. Pull in your tum, tilt your pelvis forward – you’ll lose centimetres instantly.
6. You’re all puffed up
A lymphatic drainage massage really shifts the toxins from your body and helps reduce unpleasant bloating. Book in for one at your local salon or you can do it yourself with a little therapeutic massage at home.
Add a few drops of clary sage, neroli and rose essential oils to 10ml of almond oil and massage your tummy gently. It will help to reduce the bloating and puffiness caused by PMS or menopause.
7. You’re inclined to be puffy
Then you don’t drink enough. Water reduces puffiness and prevents you from snacking. Why? When your cells get dehydrated, the body looks for water from other sources – and that includes fat cells.
If they lose water, their ability to use fat for energy is fouled up, leaving you feeling hungry. So if you drink more you eat less, puff less. Drink at the time of major energy flags. One glass as soon as you wake, two mid-morning, two mid-afternoon, two early evening and one last thing.
8. You’re a bit gassy
That’s definitely going to give you the bloated look. Get rid of it the gentle way with herbs. Gentian or artichoke herbal tinctures stimulate gastric juices and so reduce bloating.
9. You’re still gassy
Also try swapping your regular tea for peppermint, fennel, chamomile, ginger, cinnamon or aniseed. They’re all calmative herbs you can take as tinctures as well as teas to reduce bloating.
10. Your gut has plaque
Undigested food causes a build-up of mucoid plaque in the gut, which prevents us from absorbing nutrients and lowers our energy levels, bloats us and causes overload in the circulation system.
Drinking lots of water and green tea can help, so can a detox. But better still is a little colonic hydrotherapy.
Don’t reel back in horror – colonic hydrotherapy (also known as colonic irrigation) cleans the colon of mucoid plaque and other nasties, makes you feel energetic and clear-headed and yes, it can flatten your bloated tum. It’s gentle and doesn’t hurt.
11. Your pelvic floor has dropped
Tighten it and your tum by lying on the floor, knees bent, feet flat, with a cushion between your knees.
Tighten your pelvic floor, squeeze your bottom, then breathe gently, re-pulling that floor up as you breathe out. Aim to do it for three minutes a day. Plus, keep that pelvic floor about one third tightened all the time.
12. Exercise doesn’t work
Oh it does, but don’t expect the body of Sharon Stone by Tuesday. Why not try these tummy crunches: Lie down, knees bent, heels on the floor, the balls of your feet flexed.
Put your hands behind your head, elbows out at the side and gently lift your shoulder blades off the floor, hold for one count and lower. Breathe out as you lift, breathe in as you come down, without your head touching the floor.
Press your lower back into the floor and let your stomach do the work. Do three sets of 10, resting a few seconds in between and relaxing your feet. Work up to three sets of 30. If you have a bad back, rest your calves on the seat of a chair, hips directly under your knees, arms crossed across your chest.
13. You’re an apple not an hourglass
Celebrity fitness trainer Matt Roberts gives his apple-shaped clients (those more inclined to bloat) great diet advice. “To help prevent bloating, eliminate wheat and dairy products from your diet for two weeks.
Experiment instead with milk from non-dairy sources like soya or rice. And never go without breakfast – try porridge made with water, or rye bread toast with a little jam but no butter. You’ll be amazed how different you feel,” he says. Check out more of his advice in Fit For Your Shape (Dorling Kindersley, R172 from Loot).
14. The gym isn’t paying off
It could be that you’re doing the wrong exercise. The treadmill is best, plus a few key weight bearing exercises. Book a personal trainer for one session to get a programme.
15. You’re eating too late
And you’re probably eating carbs too. All the food and diet gurus say the same – late-night starches are killers on the tum. They suck up water like a sponge as they pass through and swell you beautifully. Stick to lean protein and salad or veggies for your last meal of the day.
16. You’re too salty
A gram of sodium will retain 450g of water. Check the salt content of processed foods before you buy.
17. You’ve got bloating, not flab
We have a yoga move that can help with gassy bloating and fix that lower back problem. Lie on the floor and hug your knees to your tum, hands just below the knees.
Spread your arms out to the sides level with your shoulders, (keeping knees up). Turn your head to look to the left and move your knees towards your right elbow. Keep those knees, calves and ankles together and flex your heels to increase the stretch. Repeat on both sides.
18. Your muscles have amnesia
Pregnancy hormones tell stomach muscles to slacken off. After a few children, your muscles may have taken a liking to being slack. Suck in your stomach as often as you can, enough to strengthen those muscles.
19. You’ve got intra- abdominal fat
It’s the kind that wraps itself around organs and increases health risks. Caused mainly by stress, the menopause or simply a genetic predisposition. Recent studies reveal that moderate exercise will help reduce it. Just 30 minutes three times a week should crack it.
20. You’ve got permanent PMS
Or at least it feels like it and waistbands won’t fit around your big, tense tum for a good chunk of the month. Take 200mg of vitamin B6 a day, starting 10 days before your period and continue until its end. And don’t forget to drink lots of water.
DISCLAIMER: Before starting any diet, you should speak to your doctor. You must not rely on the information on this website/newsletter as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.