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Avoid a bloated stomach on your wedding day
There are many things you would rather not happen on your wedding day; with spilling red wine on your wedding dress at the lesser end of the scale and getting jilted at the alter at the unthinkable other. Somewhere in between lies the worry that, despite weeks of gym sessions and forgoing biscuits, your stomach will bloat in the painful, unsightly manner it sometimes does, making you uncomfortable and ruining the effect of your dream wedding dress.
So what causes stomach bloating? And what can be done about it, especially given the volume of food and drink that will be consumed on your wedding day?
If painful bloating is a regular occurrence for you, see a doctor. It’s possible that you have IBS, an over-sensitivity of the bowel which, though common and not life threatening, can be extremely unpleasant. In rare cases bloating may be caused by a food allergy and this also needs to be ruled out through medical diagnosis (many people mistakenly self-diagnose themselves as having allergies and intolerances). In fewer cases still, abdominal pain and a swollen stomach could be caused by Coeliac disease, in which the body mistakes substances in gluten for a threat and attacks them, leading to damage to the surface of the small bowel.
For some people, stress plays a part in stomach bloating and, unfortunately, many brides will suffer this, at least some degree, on their wedding day. Stress bloating is caused by a number of factors: hyperventilation, when you take in more air than needed due to rapid breathing; swallowing too much oxygen for the same reason or if you swallow a lot when you’re nervous; and finally, acid indigestion due to the release of excess amounts of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Trying to remain calm, taking slow, steady breaths and avoiding caffeine on your wedding day will help avoid bloating due to stress. However, if all else fails and you don’t fancy, erm, letting the air out naturally on your wedding day, make sure you have an antacid like Pepto-Bismol on hand. Medications like Rennie Deflatine promise to disperse trapped gas without embarrassment.
The most common cause of bloating, however, is food.
According to the New You Boot Camp's head nutritionist Mary-Lou Harris, bloating is often a condition referred to as 'dysbiosis', which is an imbalance between the ’good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut. According to Mary-Lou, this bloating indicates a tendency toward yeast overgrowth (called Candida), which is more common than most people realise.
“If you already have a moderate to heavy consumption of alcohol or take the contraceptive pill, HRT, or antibiotics more than twice in the last few months, you are predisposed to depleted gut bacteria and a subsequent yeast overgrowth,” says Mary-Lou. “Think of yeast 'rising' in your gut, so that when you have a drink or eat sugary food on your wedding day, your belly bloats up.”
If you suffer from bloating as a result of Candida, taking a good quality probiotic in the run up to your wedding may help (live yoghurt may not contain a high enough concentration of acidophilus or other friendly bacteria to recolonize your gut). In addition, Mary-Lou recommends taking a good antifungal supplement and eating more garlic and ginger, both of which kill Candida.
For the week of your wedding and on the day itself, Mary-Lou suggests avoiding bread, sugar (even sugary fruits) and dairy products as all are thought to feed the yeast in your stomach.
Linda O’Byrne, chief nutritionist for Atkins, agrees that food is going to be the most likely culprit when it comes to wedding day bloat. “That bloated feeling can sometimes be attributed to factors like digestion, monthly hormones or stress, but if none of these are affecting you, it’s likely the foods you’re eating are part of the cause,” she says.
“Certain foods can trigger a sensitive reaction in your stomach and create gas, causing unwanted bloating. Carb-rich foods in particular can have this effect, especially refined or sugary carbs, such as cakes, sweets and junk food, because they are harder for the body to digest and they sit longer in the intestines.
“Try to keep your diet as natural as possible, including protein such as red meat, chicken, fish or eggs in each meal, as well as a few servings of vegetables to provide complex carbohydrates. This will help you avoid the high sodium levels found in processed foods, which also cause bloating.”
Not all bloating caused by food is a result of excess yeast, however, and ‘gassy’ foods such as beans, pulses, cabbage and broccoli can be your enemy on the big day. These foods contain lots of ¬non-absorbable carbs which take longer for your body to digest and can release small amounts sulphur gas as they pass through the gut. Not ideal for a bride!
On the other side of the equation, not getting enough fibre can lead to constipation and thus to a bloated stomach. To counteract this, make sure you eat enough whole grains (try rice, oats, spelt and amaranth) fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Drink plenty of water and aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week.
Another tip for the day itself is eat small portions and make sure you chew everything properly. “In addition to watching what you eat, try altering how you eat,” says Linda. “Slow down – eating too fast will cause you to swallow air, which can lead to a swollen belly.”
Finally, go easy on sparkling drinks – yes, sadly that includes champagne, but don’t be too virtuous – and enjoy your big day.
Find out more about the New You Boot Camp here: newyoubootcamp.com
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