Most of us have suffered with bloating and are familiar with those times when it's a swollen stomach rather than extra kilos that make our waistbands tighter than usual. The roots of the problem may be water retention or bad digestion, so here we've put together ten keys to help you avoid it happening:
Chew carefully Thoroughly chewing everything not only means that the food will reach your stomach in a more manageable form, but also produces an enzyme that aids digestion.
Eat slowly If you eat slowly – and don't talk too much while you're eating – you'll avoid swallowing air which is one of the common causes of bloating.
Drink water Drink at least two litres of water between meals as this will help improve kidney function and eliminate toxins. Particularly if you are already feeling bloated, avoid fizzy drinks, as they will only make things worse.
Watch your fibre intake Fibre is essential to proper digestion, but there are fibre-rich foods that can cause flatulence. It's not just the foods we all joke about such as beans, but even innocuous and healthy 'light' foods such as lettuce can be culprits. If you want to increase your fibre in order to help keep you regular, try more easily digested forms such as fruit juice.
Cooking pulses Pulses are a useful – and relatively cheap – element of a healthy diet. You will find them more digestible if you soak them overnight and cook them slowly.
Herbs and other aids If you suffer with wind, there are plenty of natural remedies to be taken in capsule form or as herbal teas. Fennel, mint and camomile can all alleviate the problem, as can charcoal tablets.
Your monthly cycle On the days leading up to you period, your body has a tendency to retain water. Reducing liquid intake is not the answer. In fact, you will do better to drink more as this will help eliminate toxins. Don't use diuretics, either, as these can cause the loss of micronutrients that are important for good health.
A pinch of salt Avoid too much salt and too many salty foods. The sodium stops the body's mechanism for eliminating water from the cells, which means that you'll end up with that unpleasant bloated feeling.
Keep fit Regular exercise helps to improve intestinal transit as well as helping eliminate excess liquid. Even just a short walk in your lunch hour, can help keep bloating at bay.
Don't stress about it! Stress is another factor that affects your digestion and can lead to bloating, so try and relax so your body can carry out its natural processes properly.