I bloat easily. Always have, and felt like I always would. It's an annoying thing that our female bodies do, but my body doesn't only bloat before my monthly period, either. Nope, I'm blessed to bloat all month long, all-year round. In the Summer, I never wanted to put on my bathing suit because I often looked like I'm three months pregnant. In the Winter, when my bloating is out of control, zipping up those skinny jeans could be a challenge. I was self-conscience about my appearance, and honestly, it often seemed like I looked worse than I felt.
I tried everything to eliminate my bloating, but it took a while to find my cure. I increased my water intake and then just had to pee all the time. I eliminated carbs, but although I lost a couple pounds, I did not lose the bloat; plus, I was moody. I avoided alcohol and sodium and still felt bloated. I decreased the amount of acidic foods I ate. I tried upping the fiber in my diet to help me more easily go number two, but to no avail — the bloating was persistent. Finally, I asked a friend, who also happens to be a dietitian, about my issue. She asked me, "Are you eating big meals? Are you exercising portion control?"
My eyes grew wide. "Nope," I answered. I come from a big Greek family, and our lives revolve around food. While sitting around the table devouring dinner, we discuss what we'll be eating at our next meal. And we always lick our plates clean. "Portion control?" I joked with my friend. "This doesn't sound like fun." She laughed back at me, but then urged me to eat smaller portions. "How can your belly ever go down if you're stuffing yourself at every single meal? When you eat several small-portioned meals throughout the day, your stomach won't bloat like it does now."
Her response made sense to me, so I tried this thing called "portion control." Essentially, I cut my meals in half and tried to listen to my belly — when I felt full, I stopped eating. I ate healthy snacks between meals, too, so that I'm wouldn't be starving at mealtime and then overeat. After the first week of simply eating smaller portions, my bloating finally subsided. My dietitian friend was right!
The smaller portions helped keep my stomach where it should be rather than chronically distended forward. Yes, there are still times when I overindulge like holidays, special occasions, or when my mother makes homemade Greek food. But overall, I've been doing a good job at eating smaller portions so that my stomach doesn't explode. Eating a handful of almonds or an apple helps keep my appetite in-check so that I don't overeat. And my body is thanking me for it, too. I no longer dread putting a bathing suit on in the Summer and, in the Winter, my skinny jeans are much easier to zip.