Between bank holiday barbecues, Aperol Spritz-fuelled weekends and the wedding circuit, summer fun tends to revolve around enjoying food and drink in the sun. But if you’re left feeling bloated and uncomfortable in the warmer months, your diet could be to blame. We caught up with Consultant Gastroenterologist at St Mark’s Hospital, Dr Ayesha Akbar, to find out which foods to avoid and which to try instead...
CULPRIT 1: APPLES
While an apple may seem like a virtuous option, fruits are loaded with sugar, in particular, fructose and sorbitol, which can both cause gas and bloating. Apples are also full of fibre, which can help to keep your tummy flat in the long-term, but in the short-term can make an apple hard to digest, creating gas as a result.
TRY INSTEAD: Cooking apples may reduce the effects of bloating, so simmer with some cinnamon for a tasty compote. If you don’t like the texture of cooked fruit, opt for raw blueberries, grapefruits or bananas instead.
CULPRIT 2: GARLIC
Garlic is a great antibacterial, which can add flavour to a lot of healthy dishes. However, it also contains fructans, which fall under the FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols) umbrella, meaning it can trigger bloating in those that struggle to digest them.
TRY INSTEAD: To reduce the effects of bloating avoid raw garlic, making sure to cook it before adding to dishes.
CULPRIT 3: BEANS
Chickpeas, kidney beans and butter beans are a nutrient-packed option and a good source of vegan protein but are also full of alpha-galactosidase sugars, which can cause gas as a by-product of digestion.
TRY INSTEAD: Don’t cut out beans entirely, but if you do suffer from bloating, you could benefit from cutting back or look into replacing them with beans that are more digestible, such as black beans, or grains with a similar texture, such as freekeh and buckwheat.
CULPRIT 4: RYE
People often have the misconception that by switching to rye bread, they will avoid the bloating associated with traditional brown or white bread. However, although rye bread doesn’t always contain wheat, it does still contain gluten, which can be a major trigger for bloating in those who are sensitive.
TRY INSTEAD: To avoid bloating you could look into cutting bread out of your diet and replace with brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat varieties.
CULPRIT 5: LENTILS
Although lentils are a healthy carbohydrate, due to the fact they are high in fibre, they can contribute to excessive gas production unless soaked before eating.
TRY INSTEAD: Opt for lighter-coloured lentils (such as green and red varieties) as they are lower in fibre than darker ones and therefore produce less gas.
CULPRIT 6: BROCCOLI
People often associate eating lots of vegetables with achieving a flatter stomach, but just like beans, broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family which means it can increase bloating for some individuals.
TRY INSTEAD: Replace broccoli with sweet potatoes (which have many health benefits), lettuce or spinach.
CULPRIT 7: FIZZY DRINKS
Many people often switch to diet fizzy drinks when trying to lose weight as they have ‘zero calories’ and can help fill you up. However, carbonated drinks contain a lot of carbon dioxide and therefore are the most common cause of bloating.
TRY INSTEAD: If you’re looking to beat the bloat, it’s best to avoid any fizzy drinks and instead drink flavoured water or green juice.
CULPRIT 8: WATERMELONS
Watermelons are a delicious summer snack, but unfortunately, like apples, they’re loaded with fructose and for many can cause an upset and bloated stomach.
TRY INSTEAD: If you tend to bloat after watermelon, replace it with grapefruits and bananas, which are refreshing and packed with potassium, to help ease water retention.