It happens to all of us. While you may follow a healthy (or healthy-ish) diet every day, there are some days where you may splurge a little bit. There’s no problem with indulging in some treats—one day of “bad” eating isn’t going to have any long-term effect on your health or weight—but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel the effects of a binge the next day. Whether it’s on vacation, a special event, or a holiday gathering, binge eating or overeating can cause some uncomfortable symptoms, such as bloating, digestive discomfort, and fatigue.
While these symptoms will be temporary, there are some things you can do immediately after eating to speed up your recovery. To help reduce bloating and flatten your stomach after a splurge, we put together a list of expert-recommended and science-backed tips that can provide some immediate relief. Read on, and for more on how to lose weight, you won’t want to miss The Best Ways to Lose Belly Fat for Good, Say Doctors.
If you are dehydrated, your body will retain water, which can lead to bloating. Staying hydrated also speeds up digestion and can counteract the effects of salt- and carb-induced bloating. Aim for 6 to 8 glasses of water throughout the day after overeating.
Bananas are packed with potassium, an electrolyte that helps regulate fluid balance, prevent water retention, and reduce belly bloat. Bananas are also a good source of prebiotic fiber, which helps to feed good gut bacteria and improve digestion. A study in the journal Anaerobe found women who ate a banana twice daily as a pre-meal snack for 60 days experienced an increase in good bacteria levels and a 50 percent reduction in bloating.
Relaxing in any tub is always nice, but adding two cups of Epsom salt may actually help deflate your belly by pulling excess water out of your body.
Even though they’re filled with health-promoting nutrients, there are a number of veggies that contain sneaky belly-bloaters that may be contributing to your ever-clinging food baby: White onions, artichokes, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage. Put them into a do not eat pile until your belly bounces back.
Instead of lounging around after supper, head outside for a 15-minute stroll—it’s a great way to get things moving again when you are feeling backed up and bloated. A Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases study found that 15 minutes of walking after a meal can support digestion, speeding the rate at which food moves through the stomach, and improve blood sugar levels.
Stock up on fresh ginger. This root has been shown to help deflate the stomach after eating gas-producing foods. How’s it work? Inflammation, often brought on by spicy foods, dairy and chemical additives, may be to blame for your puffy tummy. According to numerous studies, ginger, traditionally used to ease stomach pain, blocks several genes and enzymes in the body that promote bloat-causing inflammation. One way to reap the bloat-banishing benefits of ginger is to drink it in tea form. Grate it up, and simmer it over a flame with water. After 15 minutes or so, strain the tea into a teacup and squeeze in some fresh lemon juice.
Even if you only can hit the elliptical or take a short jog around the block for 15 minutes. “Exercise and water both get your intestinal tract going, which gets things moving out of your colon…to prevent constipation and the gut bulges that come with it,” explains nutritionist Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT. “And exercising enough to break a sweat will help flush some of the high-sodium foods.”
Steer clear of bubbly beverages. Sparkling water, seltzers, and soda can leave you feeling bloated in seconds from the carbonation.
People who get more sleep have reduced ghrelin and increased leptin levels, which helps to control their appetites throughout the day, according to a University of Wisconsin study. Getting a good night’s rest will make it easier for you to bounce back to your clean eating plan as soon as possible.
Not only does chewing gum cause you to swallow tummy-bloating air, many gums also contain sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol that can cause bloat. If you have to have something to chomp on, go for an organic variety like Glee gum or Simply gum instead. They’re still low-cal, but they don’t use those sweeteners that’ll make you puff up.
Dairy can be very bothersome to the belly because many adults naturally produce less of the necessary digestive enzyme, lactase, as we get older. If you consume dairy products pretty regularly, try cutting them out for a few days and see how your body reacts. Many people will notice that their midsection is less puffy after a day or two of going dairy-free.
It may seem counterintuitive, but chugging water will help rid your body of that pesky water weight. Since chugging plain H2O can be less than stimulating, we like to make detox water using fruits have de-puffing properties in their flesh and peels. (Lemons, kiwi, and honeydew all have diuretic effects.) Slice them whole into your water to reap the benefits and hit your water intake quota with an infusion of flavor! “The water and lemon help to restore normal fluid balance, flushing bloat, thanks to the potassium in the lemon that counteracts sodium; the water also rinses out the salt and you’ll get rid of the little layer of ‘puff’ right beneath your skin,” says Shames.
Start your day of eating with a burst of protein. We all get distracted or busy through the day, but a high-protein start will prevent surprise mid-morning or early afternoon energy crashes that leave us reaching for sugar, caffeine, or a carbohydrate load for a quick boost. Add some protein powder or nuts to your oatmeal (a carb that has a diuretic effect on the body) or make some scrambled eggs and whole-grain toast. The goal: don’t leave the house without first loading up on at least 15 grams of protein.
“Foods that are processed with added sugars, particularly with artificial sweeteners, can be seriously upsetting to the intestinal tract and can cause gas and bloating for many,” says registered dietitian Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN.
The older, wiser, less-bendy sister of yoga, meditation is an amazing activity that people can reap major rewards from. A 2014 study in Eating Behaviors found that individuals who meditate are less likely to overeat or give in to emotional eating—and this is key if you want to stay on track with your anti-bloat plan over the next day. To get started, unroll a yoga mat or sit on a carpet in a sunny room (east-facing if possible) and take five uninterrupted minutes thinking about something that you’re grateful for.
To keep your metabolism revving throughout the day, focus on small, protein- and fiber-packed snacks or small meals every 3 to 4 hours. Eating large portions can leave you feeling inflated. Eat until you’re about 90 percent full and then put down the fork. Eating a series of smaller meals will help you avoid the afternoon crash that will leave you reaching for things like soda that aren’t part of your flat belly plan. An apple with peanut butter, some nuts, and berries, hummus or yogurt all make great go-to snacks, as do these 14 Healthy Snacks That Will Actually Make You Feel Full.
When you finally get home after a long day, you’re totally famished—we get it. But that doesn’t mean you should scarf down your dinner in a hurry. Eating too quickly causes you to swallow excess air, which can lead to uncomfortable gas and bloating. Slowing down the chewing with your mouth closed, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect. Fight off the urge to vacuum your entire meal by snacking on something like a small piece of fruit or an ounce of nuts on your way home.
Foods made with white flour like white bread, white pasta, and white rice are relatively low in fiber and may cause you to get a little, uh, backed up. Choosing whole grains can help with this, says Smith. A simple switch from white bread to whole wheat or from white rice to brown will keep things moving along smoothly.
One of the 15 Best (and Instant) Anti-Bloating Foods is pineapple. The tropical fruit contains enzymes that aid digestion and break down proteins that usually cause bloat and also contains 180 milligrams of bloat-busting potassium per cup. Researchers have also found that pineapple can reduce colonic inflammation that may be leading to that distended stomach.
Here’s a secret: You actually fast every night, while you’re asleep—that’s why we call the first meal of the day “breakfast.” The longer you can stretch out that period of fasting, the fewer calories you’ll take in and the more time your body will have to heal itself. (Digestion takes a lot of work!). Cut off food intake by 7 pm or 8 pm at night, and delay breakfast a little further into the day. Make sure you have at least 12 hours between your last meal tonight and your first meal tomorrow. You’ll give your digestive system time to recover, and deflate your belly just in time for fun in the sun!
Rehydrate with a cup of dandelion tea, which “happens to be a powerful, yet natural diuretic that can keep your tummy flat and your confidence high,” raves registered dietitian Lisa Moskovitz, MS, RD. Iced tea is another good choice–just make sure that it’s unsweetened!
And for more, check out these 108 most popular sodas ranked by how toxic they are.