Monday, April 9, 2012

The Bloat Antidote

Uh ... you call that bloated??
My darling, darling Marsi takes on the bloat. When she attacks a subject, you can be sure you're getting every minute detail on how to attack and conquer. Read on, you'll be glad you did. (I really should take up yoga. Are all of you doing it?)

I'm pushing 46 with a very short stick, so suffice it to say that I'm finding myself in the midst of the hormonal insanity that is perimenopause.

When I saw my gynecologist for my annual in December, I quizzed her about menopausal weight gain and waistline disappearance, as those are among my great concerns as I barrel into "the change." She told me weight gain is not inevitable, but avoiding it doesn't happen on its own. It requires effort on my part.

Below are some of my doctor's tips, as well as a couple of my own, for keeping my girlish figure by avoiding short-term weight gain through fluid retention.

Drink Water

Eight to ten of these per day, please.
At the office, I love to fill up a pitcher with filtered water
and add a little ice and a half-dozen cucumber slices. 

Your body fiercely retains water when it's dehydrated. Paradoxically, flooding it forces excess fluids out of the tissues and restores equilibrium. We all know this.

Avoid Wheat, Sugar, and Salt

Here's what puts the "wheat" in "wheat belly."

The older I get, the more I notice an instant reaction in my waistline (and fannyline, if I may be frank) when I overindulge in "the whites": wheat, sugar, and salt.

Wheat is really my downfall and the "white" I most endeavor to keep in check. Rarely will I eat a meal anymore that's heavy on wheat. Much as I love it, it no longer loves me. When I do indulge, I have a moderately sized portion and make sure I'm also eating lots of vegetables and protein along with it.

Drink Diuretic Tea

All of the ingredients in this homemade brew have a mild, gentle, and entirely natural diuretic effect. A day or three of drinking this tea get me past my overindulgences. It's also very helpful for monthly (ok, I'll be honest: semi-monthly!) hormonal bloating. I saw this recipe from Jillian Michaels several years ago, and find it quite effective in combating short-term fluid retention.

As far as I'm concerned,
this is the raison d'etre for those pesky weeds. 
  • 2 c. strongly brewed dandelion root tea (brew 3 teabags in 2 c. hot water for 15 minutes; tea available at health food stores)
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cranberry juice
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 5-1/5 c. cool water
This yield 64 ounces of mildly tart tea, which I'll drink all day. When I want to take it to the office, I mix the dandelion tea, cranberry juice, and lemon in a large Mason jar, and then combine the mix with water in a pitcher I keep at work. Calorie-wise, it's almost the same as water: about 40 calories in 64 ounces.

Speed Up Intestinal "Transit Time" 

"Intestinal 'transit time'" is code for the amount of time it takes for food to be digested and waste to be eliminated. Food and waste sitting in our digestive tract equals bloating (among other dreadful things, which we will not discuss). Drinking lots of water, eating fruits and vegetables, and getting 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day keep the "trains on schedule," so to speak.

My favorite fiber and nutritional supplement is the chia seed.

And you thought Chia was just for Pets!
One ounce of chia supplies 42% of your daily fiber requirement, as well as 4 grams of protein, 18% of the calcium RDA, 27% of phosphorus, 30% of manganese, and nearly 5000 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids. All that nutrition for only 137 calories. You can blend two tablespoons (1 ounce) with fruit juice, kombucha, or a smoothie; mix it with yogurt or cereal; or slug it down fast with a glass of water. I've been taking chia daily for about two years, and when I miss a day, I feel like, well, crap.

But because chia seeds hold up to 10 times their weight in water, if you aren't drinking enough fluids throughout the day, the seeds will leach water from your tissues and you'll end up dehydrated and constipated. Water is crucial in so many ways. We all know this.

Do Yoga

No bloating here!

Sweat it out, wring it out, twist it out.


That's it for this week. Please check back next week for my final thoughts on drainage.

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