Slimming down is not a new idea. Articles abound on celebrity crash diets like crazy cayenne water (thanks, Beyoncé!) and low-energy juice cleanses. We all know that salt and sugar are recipes for disaster if you are trying to avoid bloating. What you may not realize is that junk food isn't the only culprit. That's right, even healthy, fibre-rich vegetables can cause painful bloating leaving you feeling like you've just wolfed down a Big Mac.
Health Canada reports that on average Canadians consume approximately 3,400 mg of sodium each day -- almost double the recommended daily amount. Sugar is even worse: we consume an average of 26 tsp/110 g of sugar per day, accounting for roughly one in five calories in our diets.
Resolve to banish bloating before New Year's because let's face it -- the Healthy Eating Resolution is a little cliché! Nix these 10 items from your diet and you'll be strutting a new slimmer and trimmer you in just two weeks!
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No surprise here: The magical fruit that makes you toot is packed with a sugar that is not digestible. After you eat beans, they work their way into your intestines, where good bacteria goes to work breaking down the foods and causing serious amounts of gas and bloating. Swap beans for lean protein, like fish and chicken.
We've heard it a million times, "alcohol is disastrous for your waistline." I'm not suggesting you get on the wagon for life, or even a month, but swapping booze for water will rev your metabolism and make mornings your new best friend. You'll feel livelier and more energetic, and ready to start the day instead of sitting on the couch with a bottle of Advil.
3. Artificial Sweeteners
"No sugar" may seem like the smart choice, but we know better! Artificial sweeteners often contain sugar alcohol, which can cause bloating. Best course of action is to cut down on sweets altogether before the big day.
As we've already mentioned, Canadian and American diets are packed with almost double the daily-recommended amount of sodium. Salt causes the body to retain water and bloat around the midsection. This isn't a compromise! For two weeks, put down the chips, pretzels and other salty treats. Every handful contains half of your recommended daily allowance, and when was the last time you stopped after one? Substitute crunchy vegetables and small portions of raw almonds.
5. Junk Food
The fat, sodium and sugar packed into junk food can leave us feeling like we are on top of the world. That is, until we crash 30 minutes later. Saying goodbye to junk food is a simple and effective way to banish food-induced baby bumps.
6. Cruciferous Vegetables
You may be surprised to find vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts on this list. It's because these veggies contain a similar sugar to beans and require methane-releasing bacteria to break them down in the digestive track. Swap these veggies for dark leafy greens, like spinach and kale.
Swap traditional calcium channels for dark leafy greens. Dairy contains an enzyme called lactase, which is responsible for lactose intolerance in 75 per cent of the world's population. Our bodies struggle to break down dairy, and digestion causes gas and bloating. Skip the cheese plate for a couple weeks and swap cow's milk for a dairy-free variety -- you'll be feeling slim and sexy in no time.
8. Fizzy Drinks
The bubbles found in soda and beer are generated by carbon dioxide. When we drink something fizzy, we also ingest those gases, which cause bloating and expansion around our midsection. Swap fizzy drinks for water with a splash a lemon or a few slices of cucumber -- a detoxifying drink that is refreshing and delicious.
9. Refined Carbohydrates
Some people tell you to eliminate gluten when you are trying to de-bloat. If you have an allergy or intolerance, then going gluten-free is a very good call. For others, this is simply not possible. Instead, swap refined empty carbohydrates like white rice, pasta, potatoes and sugar for fibre-rich "slow" carbs, like small portions of quinoa and brown rice.
10. Chewing Gum
Who would have guessed that freshening your breath can make you bloated? Turns out that many chewing gums use sugar alcohols in production. As with artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols cause bloating -- not to mention that a single stick of gum can pack five calories and up to six grams of sugar.
A smart back-up plan here is to remove junk food and other unhealthy temptations from your kitchen, and restock with vegetables, fruits, high-fibre grains and lean proteins. This simple strategy helps prevent cheating and encourages you to make better meal choices even if you are running between work and soccer practice. Bloating is nobody's best friend. Conquer it by banishing these gas-causing foods for at least two weeks and you'll feel like got back that spring in your step!