A comprehensive guide of what to eat and what to avoid before hitting the beach.
QUESTION: I love spending my summers at the beach but dread the feeling of walking around feeling bloated all day in a bathing suit. I eat clean regularly, but I can’t seem to avoid getting bloated. What foods should I stay away from to help prevent bloating? And what should I eat instead?
– Alyssa in CT
ANSWER BY SJ McSHANE, CN, CPT:
A case of the bloats can be annoying. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it conceals the hard work you’ve put in the gym and kitchen. The good news is, steering clear of a few food and drink choices—and making a few simple swaps—will help keep unwanted bloating at bay so you can make the best of your beach days.
Although sodium-rich snacks like salsa, chips, and hotdogs might not make you gassy, they do cause water retention which can leave you looking and feeling bloated – especially if you go overboard on the serving sizes.
Swap it: opt for low-sodium varieties of your favorite beach snacks and/or pair them with potassium-rich foods like avocado, mango, and banana. Potassium helps help flush excess sodium out of the body making them perfect beach day bites.
They’re packed with vitamins and fantastic for long-term healthy eating, but they will not work in your favor on beach days. Foods like cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage contain a complex sugar called raffinose which is known for causing unwanted bloating.
Swap it: Crunching on sliced vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, and celery will give you your fill of nutrients while helping flush excess water out of the body.
Bubbly beverages and belly bloat go hand-in-hand due to the high amounts of carbon dioxide (a gas) causing belly budging, belching, and trapped gas.
Swap it: If you find yourself craving the bubbles, sparkling water is a decent substitute when sticking to one serving. Add lemon (or your choice of fruit) to plain, cold water which will help your body naturally detox while keeping you hydrated under the summer sun. Coconut water is another great alternative helping to replenish lost electrolytes.
Avoiding the wrong foods-and eating the right ones-can have you feeling lean and fit when it’s time to hit the beach.
Xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol are popular for causing bloating since they reach the large intestines unchanged where the gut bacteria feed on them. Gum, certain processed foods, and sweet drinks can contain these sweeteners so keep an eye out before you pack your beach bag.
Swap it: Stevia or organic sugar will provide sweetness to your drink of choice without the tummy rumbles and bathing suit bulge.
Other belly-bloating foods to avoid on beach day:
Onions – This popular veggie contains soluble fiber, (fructans), which can cause bloating.
Alcohol – Can cause dehydration which leads to water retention, while the carbonation can give you an instant beer belly.
Wheat and Dairy – If your body doesn’t respond well to gluten or dairy, it’s best to omit them completely on beach days.
Beans – Contain high fiber which is healthy for the body, but can leave you feeling distended.
Junk food – Processed foods high in fat, carbohydrates, sugars and salts can lead to instant bloating and inflammation.
Float Without the Bloat: Anti-bloating Foods & Drinks
Organic, low-sodium lean meats
Fruits: watermelon, papaya, berries, grapefruit, oranges, antelope, avocado, banana, grapes, pears, pineapple.
Veggies: cucumbers, celery, carrots, spinach, zucchini, asparagus, spaghetti squash.
Fermented foods (if tolerated well)
Oatmeal with cinnamon
Water add-ins: Ginger, mint, lime, lemon, chia seeds, green tea, chamomile tea, peppermint teaKombucha
SJ McShane is a trainer, nutritionist, and Senior Writer for Robert Irvine Magazine. Follow her on Twitter and visit her website.