Beat Belly Bloat

belly bloat

A very close friend of mine sent me a message recently asking me for help. 

"I have a nutrition question," she prefaced it. 

I always giggle at this. I feel like everyone I know has nutrition questions, but my closest friends are timid about asking me because they are afraid that I might get offended or feel like they are taking advantage. What they forget is that I GEEK OUT about this stuff, and jump at the chance to talk about it with anyone. Anytime. 

Honestly.

Anyway, she went on to describe her struggle with some belly fat. Except she didn't call it "belly fat". She called it "stuff on top of my ab muscles but not really fat." 

I giggled again. 

The fact of the matter is that American's waistlines have been steadily expanding over the past decade. A study released in 2014 revealed that abdominal obesity was up to 54% in Americans -- an increase of 8% from 2000. Even more frightening was the trend among women -- two-thirds of women being affected. 

So, my friend wanted to know "what should I do about it?"

Here’s what I told her.

First of all, it's important to think about what's going on in your life that could be causing the pooch. The first thing I would want to talk about is your life stage. If you're in your 20s, your body is getting ready for children (whether you want to have kids or not). If you're in your 30s, you may be recovering from childbirth and coasting at your cushy desk job. You also start to lose muscle tone in your 30s. In your 40s, your body gets ready for menopause, and then in your 50s, metabolism and hormone levels drop and stubborn belly fat creeps in and stays. 

Next, it's important to take a look at your stress levels. If you are in a stressful situation, whether it be at work or at home, your body goes into "fight or flight" mode. Your brain floods your body with hormones to keep you in homeostasis and bring you back down to a place of calm, or prepare you to RUN AWAY. Either way, the cortisol just sits in your belly, where fat accumulates to protect your vital organs. 

Another issue could be a food sensitivity. While food allergies are severe and life-threatening reactions to a food, sometimes our body just doesn’t like the food and we feel all icky. Hives. Headaches. Brain fog. Stubborn belly fat. These could all be indicators that something is not right. I would suggest getting a food sensitivity screening to identify any food culprits that could be causing the unnecessary inflammation. I offer this service here.

Finally, I would ask "What are you eating?" We are in this crazy time right now when many people are eating more restrictive diets to try to beat the obesity epidemic. But the fact of the matter is, eating less doesn't necessarily make you thinner. If you deprive your body of the nutrients that it needs to do ALL OF THE THINGS all day long, then your body will go into survival mode, storing whatever you DO put into your body as sugar and eventually fat, which it will conserve to use as energy later. My friend said she eats crackers throughout the day to satisfy her hunger pangs, to which I replied that she really has to take my Master Mindful Eating e-course (shameless plug).

But for reals. Your brain and your belly chat all day long. And if your belly screams "I'M HUNGRY" and your brain replies "SHE'S NOT FEEDING US RIGHT NOW, SO JUST SIT TIGHT AND USE WHAT YOU'VE GOT DOWN THERE" then your stomach will listen. Restricting is not helpful. In fact, it could be contributing to exactly what you are trying to avoid. 

The best ways to beat the belly bloat? You’re going to want to hear this…

  1. Cut out refined sugars. Put down the FroYo. Knock it off with the chocolate chip cookie habit.

  2. And while you’re at it, ditch the processed foods and soda. Stop going to the drive-thru, and yes, even one soda a day is bad for you.

  3. Make a stress management plan. Take a bath. Engage in deep breathing. Do yoga.

  4. Watch your caffeine intake. Two cups = health bennies. Four cups = belly fat.

  5. Eat fat. It’s good for you! Fat provides the building blocks for our brain matter. Just make sure it’s the good stuff. Think avocados. Hummus. Coconut oil. Just not too much.

  6. Workout. Get a move on. Get those endorphins pumping.

  7. Balance your gut bacteria. Eat coconut yogurt (chock full of pre- and probiotics. Take a supplement. Good gut bacteria leads to leaner waistlines.

  8. Sleep. Studies show that people who sleep well are more active, more likely to eat well, and more likely to handle stress better. So get a good snooze on.

And if you need a little bit of help kicking that stubborn belly fat to the curb I’m now booking new clients for The Body Haven Project and would LOVE to work with you. This is my TIME and BUDGET friendly 12-week coaching programs TAILORED for women like YOU! Check out the deets here and get ready to see a true transformation in your life.

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