13 06-belly fat bloating flat tummy tbIt’s bikini season—and that means you simply cannot live with a bloated belly.

The reasons for bloating aren’t as simple as you think, so before you do anything drastic, learn why your stomach may be less than flat and what you can do to look trimmer, without the crash diet.

1. Walk it off

According to the Mayo Clinic, slow digestion is a primary cause of stomach bloating, and the best way to help digestion after overindulging is to go for a walk! Even a stroll around the block can give your digestive system a boost. If you make walking after dinner, or at lunch with colleagues, a daily habit, you’ll burn extra calories, be rewarded with a more efficient digestive system and a trimmer-looking waistline.

2. Make a switch

May women feel bloated after starting oral contraceptives. A 2012 study in the journal Contraception observed a group of women on the pill and found that 70 per cent of them reported abdominal bloating. Switching pills might be the answer: more than half of the women in the study also said their symptoms were gone in six months after switching to the brand Yasmin, which contains the hormone drospirenone. Drospirenone may help ease stomach bloating not only because it’s a diuretic, but because it also increases the body’s potassium levels. It’s not good for women taking other medications, such as anti-inflammatories. Talk to your doctor.

3. Go with the probiotic power

A 2012 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology revealed that probiotics (and specifically Lactobacillus plantarum 299v) can alleviate the symptoms of gas and bloating commonly associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). However, not just any probiotic will do. Hit up your health food store for a high-quality product made using a process that keeps the “good” bacteria intact. Choose a probiotic that requires refrigeration, because live bacteria must be kept cold to maintain its efficacy, and skip the probiotic yogurts because they’re high in sugar.

4. That time of month

Sorry, girls. Bloating is a difficult-to-avoid part of getting your period, but there are ways to lessen it. When you have PMS, you may be more inclined to hide in your apartment eating chocolate and watching He’s Just Not That Into You, but, instead, go to a spin class or try hot yoga. Drinking more water all month also helps with bloating around your period. Other source of hydration are fruits and vegetables with high water content: cucumbers, tomatoes, apricots, blueberries, iceberg lettuce, zucchini and watermelon.

5. Not so sweet

Fructose, found in syrup, honey and soft drinks, may be causing the unexplained digestive problems making it difficult to button your favourite pair of jeans. According to a 2012 University of Iowa study, three out of four people with unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms, including bloating, had fructose intolerance. You can diagnose fructose intolerance by visiting a naturopath for a hydrogen breath test.

6. Ditch the diet pop

A 2011 study at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio found that diet pop might actually cause weight gain than prevent it because it causes a blood sugar spike that stops the body from signalling it’s time to stop eating. People who said they consumed two or more diet sodas per day experienced a waist circumference increase 500 per cent greater than those who did not drink diet soda at all.

7. Identify the culprit

Especially if you constantly feel bloated, even several hours after a big meal or in the morning, a food allergy could be the issue. Visit a naturopath and ask for a food allergy test or perform your own with an “elimination diet.” Start by removing potentially irritating foods, like soy, eggs, dairy, corn, gluten, pork, beef, coffee, citrus and nuts. Focus on organic chicken or turkey, fresh fruit, steamed veggies and rice. Then, in three to four weeks, slowly begin to reintroduce foods. If you reintroduce a food and immediately get bloated, stay away from it.

8. Too salty!

Salt increases water retention, which makes you look bloated! Don’t think you eat much salt? You probably consume more than you know. Salad dressings, soups, bread, cereals and frozen or prepared meals contain a lot of salt and sodium and make you look like you’ve eaten more than you did. Avoid salt by making your own dressings and soups, and hunting down sodium-reduced versions of the foods you love. But, avoiding processed foods is your best defence.