Staying hydrated keeps things moving, helping rid your body of waste, while guarding against water retention and constipation. Choose non-carbonated water because when air enters the intestine, it doesn't get absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead, it remains trapped until eventually it's expelled via a belch or flatulence.
Sodium -- better known as salt -- can cause the body to retain more fluids, causing you to swell up. Some people are more genetically prone to this than others. Replace the salt shaker with herbs like parsley and basil. Healthy adults should limit sodium to between 1,500 and 2,400 milligrams a day -- about half the amount most Americans consume, due in large part to a heavy diet of processed foods.
As a back-up energy source, muscles store a type of carb called glycogen, for which each gram stores three grams of water. Unless you're running a marathon tomorrow, all this stockpiled fuel and stored water is unnecessary. Replace the pasta dinner with grilled salmon and green veggies when you're feeling bloated.
Too much trapped air can cause belly extension. Intestinal gas is typically caused by the fermentation of undigested food such as plant fiber. Carrots, raw or cooked, are low-calorie, no-bloat veggies that pack a nutritional punch. Avoid gas-producing vegetables such as cauliflower, onions, broccoli, legumes, cabbage and peppers. While they're a nutritious option, you may want to steer clear of them a few days before an important event where you don't want to display a lower-belly pooch.
Sugar-free desserts and candy are usually sweetened with sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, maltitol and mannitol, which can cause bloating in the abdomen. If you must get your sugar fix, go for just a few bites of the real thing instead, such as a square of dark chocolate.
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