7 Tips for Beating the Bloat

For women who experience uncomfortable bloating during PMS, certain foods seem to make things worse. These 7 food cures can help.

Don’t overdo it on fiber.

It’s not often that you hear a nutritionist tell you to cut back on your fiber intake. But while fiber is incredibly important, too much can exacerbate bloat in people who are sensitive. When experiencing PMS it’s best to monitor your intake of high–fiber foods, especially bran cereals, beans, lentils, and high–fiber bars. When you do eat these foods, drinking plenty of flat water can help wash them all down and promote smoother digestion.

Avoid large meals.

Consuming high volumes of food at one time will inevitably distend the stomach, making you feel even puffier. Large meals also tend to be heavy in carbohydrates and fat, which will exacerbate any uncomfortable bloating. Instead spread low-volume meals and snacks throughout the day (three meals and 1–2 snacks will do the trick), and aim to eat every 4–5 hours. Low–volume, PMS–friendly meal options include 6 ounces of nonfat yogurt and a cup of fresh berries, a 4–egg white spinach and mushroom omelet with one slice of whole wheat toast, and 2 cups of vegetable salad with grilled shrimp or chicken.

Avoid carbonated beverages.

Drinks like soda and seltzer contain carbon dioxide, which causes the fizzing we see in our glass. These bubbles enter our digestive track, and can sometimes make our stomach feel distended and uncomfortable, not to mention gassy. If you suffer from bloating as a symptom of PMS, it’s best to stick to flat water, which hydrates sans bubbles.

Avoid salty foods.

Salty foods cause water retention and can make your usual PMS bloat worse. To reduce overall distention, you’ll want to avoid the saltiest offenders in your diet, including deli and processed meats (like bacon, sausage, and hot dogs), canned soup, pickles, many frozen entrées, and salty condiments like soy sauce, ketchup, and bottled salad dressing. You should also lay off salty snacks like chips and pretzels. Instead opt for low–sodium foods like yogurt, fresh fruit, vegetables, and unsalted nuts and seeds.

Beat the bloat.

Feeling heavy and bloated is one of the most unpleasant symptoms of PMS. This monthly annoyance is caused by water retention or gas — a buildup of air in the intestines and stomach — which can leave us running towards the closest pair of sweatpants. Luckily there are ways to reduce puffiness and feel more comfortable in your skin. Here are my top 7 food cures to help you beat the bloat.

Limit gas–producing foods.

Certain foods are harder for your body to break down and digest. A by–product of this tough digestion is gas. If gas tends to be a personal issue, minimize foods such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beans and cabbage during the most problematic week in your monthly cycle.

Limit sugar alcohols.

Sorbitol and maltitol are sugar alcohols which are frequently found in sugar–free foods and sugarless gum. These sugar alcohols are poorly digested by some people and can exacerbate gas and discomfort in those who are super sensitive. To beat the bloat (especially when you’re experiencing PMS), it’s best to leave sugar–free candy and gum, diet drinks and other foods that contain sugar alcohols off the menu.

Incorporate protein in every meal.

Including protein in each meal and snack will do wonders for reducing puffiness. Protein can act like a natural diuretic and help your body get rid of extra water (which is in no short supply when you’re experiencing PMS!). For breakfast, avoid carb–centric meals like bagels, corn muffins, pancakes and waffles — and opt for protein–rich scrambled egg whites with a side of fresh fruit. To incorporate protein into your snacks try an apple with a handful of almonds, a part–skim string cheese, or a container of nonfat yogurt.