Beat the bloat for the beach

Mention summer and beaches and whatever our age we all want to look our best, and this means watching what we eat and being active to keep our bodies toned and fit. The “hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer” might include picnics and barbecues, and one way to enjoy these whilst maintaining healthy eating habits is by focusing on simple, light snacks. But even so why is it that sometimes we feel and look bloated? It’s a horrid feeling, when our abdomen (tummy) is stretched, puffy and uncomfortable. All too often it’s due to wind or flatulence, although it may be due to other causes.

Bloating most commonly occurs when the abdomen is swollen caused by an excessive production of gas in the digestive system. For some people it’s an occasional inconvenience due to excess wind or constipation, whilst for others it’s simply the result of gulping air whilst talking and eating. One solution is to always sit down to eat (sit upright) and to try not to talk and eat at the same time and make sure you chew with your mouth closed, so that you’re not taking in excess air.

Certain foods and fizzy drinks can be the culprits and cause bloating. These foods include beans, broccoli, sprouts, cabbage onions and cauliflower – so be aware! If constipation is adding to your problem try to prevent it with a fibre-rich diet, drinking lots of fluids and taking regular exercise. A brisk walk improves your bowel function as well as keeping you in good shape.

However, it may be you are one of those people who have intolerance to certain foods which lead to bloating. This can happen when too much gas is produced as a reaction to these foods and your bowel doesn’t empty properly. If you do have food intolerance try eating less of the culprit food or cut it out completely. Wheat, gluten and dairy products are the most common offenders. But as with the vegetables which I mentioned earlier, do make sure you still eat five portions of both fruit and vegetables a day, and don’t get rid of any food groups long-term without advice from your GP.

If your GP diagnoses Coeliac disease, switching to a gluten-free diet should help. Coeliac disease is a common digestive condition where your intestine can’t absorb gluten – found in wheat, barley and rye. As well as causing bloating, foods containing gluten can also trigger diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fatigue.