You’re working out, you’ve changed your diet, you’ve done everything you thought you needed to do. But that darn belly bloat is still bugging you!
If this is you, you are not alone. Besides wanting to lose fat and firm up, this is the most common concern I hear women complain about.
So if you have taken action on the nutrition and fitness front and you’re still left wanting, these are my top 5 absolute best techniques to fix belly bloat.
Chances are that if you’re following the standard diet trends then you’re still suffering from bloating, discomfort and poor digestion. When I tell you these simple to follow, actionable techniques, I’ll bet you pick up at least one big take-home lesson that will help you resolve this annoying symptom.
Most of what you learn here will come from my training in acupuncture and Chinese medical theory. Some of what I’ll teach you, particularly with nutrition, will clash with what you will see from diet advice in the grocery isle.
1- The Mind- Gut Connection
There is a simple way to prove how strong the mind-gut connection is. What happens first when you end a relationship? You can’t eat!
In a small way, almost every day you experience enough stress that you’re recreating this same stress on the body. You burn the candle at both ends, eat while you’re working and ask too much of yourself.
Your mind is constantly busy. Stimulated. Constantly thinking about what’s next. What’s on Facebook? What else do I have to get done today?
High stress and eating on the run are two big reasons your gut is constantly being bombarded.
We live entirely too much in our heads in the west. Most of us lack any daily stress-management techniques like breathing or yoga, and we get far too little movement because we don’t have to walk to get anywhere.
At the same time, we tend to over eat and eat in a hurry. We take a gut that’s already overly excited and busy and we bombard it with too much & the wrong foods.
In acupuncture theory, you want to avoid overly engaging the mind while you eat. Sitting in a quite space alone with no extra stimulation, or even better, sitting at a TABLE (I know it sounds crazy) and talking with people you love, are great activities while you eat.
This sort of activity is calming to the mind. Peaceful. The mind is calmer, and the gut can function correctly.
Contrast this with checking Facebook, watching the news or driving while you eat, and the issue is obvious. Your goal is to eat each meal WHILE your body and mind are calm.
If you suffer from chronic stress, then you should consider going a step further. My top 3 recommendations to you would be learning meditation or breath work, yoga, or getting some form of alternative therapy (acupuncture, massage, etc.)
In Chinese medicine there is a saying that goes something like this- You can cheat your health up to the age of 30. After that, your health will cheat you.
Of course this means the effects of poor lifestyle. And in our culture, high stress is top of that list. So beyond the food suggestions I’m going to make, if your goal is to eliminate chronic belly bloating and discomfort, managing stress is at the TOP of that list.
2- Gut Health Nutrition Part #1
There are TWO parts to nutrition and gut health, or reducing chronic belly bloat. The first step is the head-slapping obvious one…stop introducing foods that inflame the gut.
If you do every other tip I’m covering here and skip this one, you will not see the universal changes you’re looking for. If you keep introducing inflammatory foods every day, I don’t care how strong your health becomes, you won’t be able to handle these foods.
Of course there is a lot of spirited discussion going on about nutrition these days, so you’re probably hearing a dozen different and contrasting philosophies.
Again, my perspective is coming from my background in Chinese medicine. These tools I’m teaching you are core to the way I’m helping thousands of women restore their health in my practice.
The list of inflammatory foods is huge in the age of processed foods, but here are the biggest culprits:
• Processed wheat (pasta, bread and cereal)
• Processed food of all kinds- stuff that comes from a box with a lot of ingredients are created in a science lab
• Vegetable based cooking oils- ie. Veggie oil, canolla, soy (coconut oil and butter are good!)
The one similarity all of these foods have is that they are highly DAMP foods. And if you’ve read any of my work, dampness is the real culprit with most digestion and gut problems.
Dampness is basically a by-product your body makes when it can’t properly digest the food you give it. Let’s say you eat a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk and orange juice on the side (all very damp foods). Then an hour later you feel bloated, lethargic and unmotivated.
If you feel any of these symptoms, particularly right after a meal, you are probably struggling with dampness. It’s no wonder, because the list of food above is a massive portion of the modern diet.
The principles of clearing damp with food are both to get the damp foods out or greatly reduced, then burn off damp with regular exercise and healthy, easy to digest food.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Easy to digest food is basically all food that comes from the earth. The highest quality (organic, GMO free and grass-fed when applicable) is always key too.
Cooking food will also help you reduce bloating because it’s easier to digest. You’ve basically already started the process of breaking food down when you’ve steamed or cooked food.
So when you think about standard diet food- things like yogurt and salad- you see some of the issues right off the start. They might be foods that help you burn fat, although I would tell you to think twice about that claim, but they definitely won’t help you with bloating and discomfort.
3- Gut Health Nutrition Part #2
In almost every traditional culture, people ate fermented foods. Everything from kimchi in Korean cuisine, to sauerkraut, to yogurt. Fermented foods showed up in cultures all over the world.
If you’ve heard of pro-biotics, they basically share the same goal as fermented food. They put good bacteria in your belly and promote healthy digestion.
Not only is our diet seriously lacking in healthy gut bacteria producing foods, we also eat and drink things that assault the gut.
Soda, alcohol, and inflammatory foods I’ve listed above all wreak havoc with your gut bacteria, not to mention overuse of antibiotics.
Pro-biotics can be helpful, but many scientists believe that we actually destroy them in the belly before they get where they need to be useful. For this reason, and the fact that they’re quite expensive, I recommend finding fermented foods that you like.
4- Movement/Exercise and Stagnant Liver Qi
We already talked about one of the most common symptoms from Chinese medicine that is at play with your belly bloating- dampness. Stagnant liver qi is the second one, and it’s a biggie!
In Chinese medicine, the liver’s function is to create a smooth flow of energy. When we are well rested and getting regular exercise or movement (when I say movement, I mean general activity like a vigorous walk or playing a sport), the liver can do its function with ease.
The perfect balance I recommend for healthy liver function is serious, vigorous, anaerobic exercise 3 times a week, and up to 4 more days a week where you get general movement- walking, running, biking, playing a sport, yoga, etc. (the four days can be very gentle, easy movement…don’t think long workouts)
Which end of the spectrum do you land on? Most people fit in one of these two categories:
A- You don’t workout nearly enough- less than 3 days a week (0-3 days at most) and are highly sedentary the other days
B- You workout ALL The time, going to the gym 5 days a week and hitting it hard
Both of these are the extremes, and I don’t recommend them. One isn’t enough to maintain proper muscle or fat burn. The other is almost always depleting (read: aging).
I’m going to focus more on the effects of a lack of exercise and movement. When you don’t move on a daily basis, AND have high stress, AND experience strong emotions of anger or sadness, you are most likely suffering with stagnant liver qi.
The symptoms can range from strong, negative emotions of anger or sadness, bloating and tightness in your middle belly area (from belly button to your rib cage), joint and muscular pain and painful periods.
When you compound the symptoms of Dampness and Stagnant Liver Qi, you will most likely have serious issues with belly bloating…and common nutrition techniques will have little to no effect.
So if you’re looking for help, focus on eliminating damp foods, eating more digestible foods, and getting this recommended amount of exercise. Move your body and muscles every day. Some days vigorously with weights. Some days more calmly and relaxed. This will do wonders to get your body stronger and healthier…and to reduce bloating and cramping.
5- Never Eat Past Fullness
This is similar to the first tip, but there are a few more important tips to take home here.
You have a hormone called Leptin that tells you when you’re full. Because we eat foods that are highly inflammatory, and often in a rush or while stressing the mind, we often blow past the feeling of fullness.
The one down side of Leptin is that it takes about 15 minutes to do its job. When we lived in times where we stopped what we were doing, sat down and ate with family, we had time for our bodies to register the feeling of fullness.
Most of us practice the art of blowing right past full…all the way to stuffed. We have to “eat and run.” So we stuff it in our face, start feeling full, finish our plate and then don’t realize we’ve overdone it until it’s too late.
Again, do this to the gut on a regular basis and you literally stress your belly every time you eat.
The Belly Bloat Principles Summarized
If you suffer from chronic belly bloating and want it fixed, follow these principles and you can finally see the changes you’ve been looking for.
1- Calm your body and focus on eating, friends, and conversation when you eat
2- Rid foods that are damp/inflammatory from your diet
3- Eat foods that are more digestible
4- Get vigorous exercise 3 times a week, and movement on the rest of the days
5- Add at least one fermented food to your diet this week
6- Eat slowly enough to feel full before you stuff yourself
If you have particular success with any one of these strategies, or a light bulb goes off and you’re excited to share, hop over to https://www.facebook.com/39minuteworkout/?ref=hl and let us know.
Dedicated to your health,