ALSO READ: Ingredient of the week: Red leaf lettuce
A bloated belly can really bring you down.
The swelling, which can make women balloon up a dress size, comes with pains, cramping and embarrassing wind problems.
Many people regularly suffer from tummy troubles, with irritable bowel syndrome the most common complaint.
While bloating is occasionally a sign of a serious medical condition, it is mainly down to our diet.
And according to research by the Autonomous University of Barcelona, what we eat has a huge impact on how we look.
So here are our top food tips for a flatter stomach.
ALSO READ: Why juicing may not help you lose weight
Avoid fizzy drinks and chewing gum
Carbonated drinks contain gas, which can swell your belly. So it makes sense to reduce or stop your fizzy drink intake.
Instead, stick to the ginger or peppermint tea to soothe your battered tummy.
And when you chew gum you can swallow air, which gets more gas into your stomach.
So simply bin the gum if you want a flatter tum.
Beware of beans
Beans are an excellent source of protein, carbohydrate, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
But most contain sugars called alpha-galactosides, which belong to a group of tricky carbs called fodmaps. And these can be your worst enemy if you are prone to bloating. They form a gas during the fermentation process which can upset people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), causing flatulence, cramping, diarrhoea and that dreaded bloat.
If you soak and sprout beans it reduces the Fodmaps in them, a French study found.
Pinto and black beans may be easier to digest. Medics recommend introducing beans slowly to avoid discomfort.
Drink fresh ginger tea
Ginger, a powerful digestive aid and anti-inflammatory, has been used to alleviate bloating and stomach cramps for centuries.
It naturally stimulates the body’s digestive enzymes and protects the stomach lining. To make it, slice or grate about one tablespoon of fresh ginger, add it to a cup, and steep in boiling water.
Then you can add honey or lemon to taste if the spice is too much for your palate.
Cook garlic and onions
Onions and garlic also contain those pesky Fodmaps. But cooking both these bulbous plants may reduce the impact on your digestive system and cut down the bloat.
Brassicas such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower also contain these carbohydrates and may be worth avoiding if they trigger your symptoms and have you dashing for the toilet.
Rule out food allergies
Food allergies and intolerances can lead to painful gas and make your tummy balloon.
Common culprits include gluten, dairy and sesame.
Make a food diary to see if there are any common triggers.
You could also speak to your doctor about an allergy test and avoid these foods if you suspect they may be triggering symptoms.
Eat smaller meals
This is a simple tip but a highly effective one.
Avoid stuffing yourself silly at mealtimes and switch from three large meals a day to five or six smaller portions. This regulates blood sugar and will leave you feeling lighter and brighter and with a flatter tum.