The day I switched to eating more whole grains, fruits and veggies, and less processed meals, I thought I had made the best decision ever. By feeding myself whole, healthy foods I thought my body would feel amazing, the sun would always shine and unicorns would run across open fields…
Okay, so I am kidding about the sun and unicorns, obviously, but I am not kidding about the part referring to my body. The truth is that I experienced, and still do to this day, something that I imagine most people living a healthy lifestyle do. The dreaded food belly that can be perceived as a baby bump! (Please note, someday I will be more than ecstatic to have a baby bump! But until the day I am carrying another life, I would prefer not to be accused of being pregnant when I am not.. )
All those whole grains, veggies and fruits may not always be my best friends. After almost every meal that contains fiber and/or voluminous ingredients, my stomach bloats and expands. I may even look pregnant to a stranger walking by, not knowing that I just ate a huge veggie-filled salad for lunch!
After I eat a breakfast of oatmeal, a salad at lunch, or an apple as a snack, my thought process may begin to look like this:
- Wow! I am so stuffed, but I really don’t know why since I didn’t take in more calories than my body needs.
- My stomach literally hurts to the touch. It begins to swell and I cannot suck it in for the life of me. Thus, I am forced to walk around with my little ‘baby’ bump.
- I begin to feel a tad emotional and upset that I ate this meal. Sure I am feeding my body the proper nutrients, but now my stomach hurts and my pants feel tight. This is when dangerous thoughts can pop into your head. You may feel like you’ve gained 5 pounds since breakfast (not possible!) and you may hate fiber right then and never want to eat another vegetable again.
I came across this article titled, Foods That Make You Look Pregnant, and I immediately thought, “Hey! FitSugar/Shape Magazine, you’re talking to me!” Little did I know that as I kept reading, the story would resonate even more.
According to the article, here are the times when your food baby might begin to show:
After a Gassy Meal. Well isn’t this just great? Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and dairy are all examples, and all items that I enjoy throughout the week. I have been combining half almond milk with half cow’s milk to try and cut back on the dairy a little, but the truth is that I just love both so why not have a little of each?! Regarding the veggies, they are too nutrient rich, low in calories, and plain good for me to avoid. Moving on..
After Enjoying a Carbonated Drink. I drink 1 or 2 diet pops a week, everything in moderation right? However, I have weaned myself off from one a day. To replace my beloved artificial drinks, I now purchase a Cadillac priced soda water called La Croix. So delicious, but also extremely carbonated! Baby bump fail #2, boo!
After a High Volume Meal. Remember those Peanut Butter Banana Chia Oats? How about the Spaghetti Squash side dish? Both great ways to make a meal have volume and staying power, but also an excellent way to ‘volumize’ your stomach while you’re at it. I love lower calorie foods that can fill me up, but they notoriously fill out my tummy too!
After Some Not So Healthy Habits. I do a pretty good job of not skipping meals and I don’t smoke. However, the bad habits that resonated with me? Chewing gum, which I do 2-3 times a day, and eating too fast, which I can do when I am really hungry. This is why an emphasis on snacks is so important.
So here’s the deal. Should we all stop eating healthy, fiber-filled whole foods? Absolutely not! But there are a few things we can do to help beat the baby bump.
- Drink more plain water. I try to drink 8-10 glasses a day. It helps keep the fiber moving through my system, which eliminates belly bloat.
- Choose smaller portions of healthy foods and spread throughout the day. This is something I definitely want to work on. I tend to eat 3 larger meals, but reducing those main meal sizes and adding in smaller snacks will help.
- Slow down your eating. This can be done by incorporating snacks, since I won’t be as hungry at meal time and won’t need as large of a portion.
Here are a couple thoughts from the article that we need to keep in mind:
“The truth is having a perfectly flat stomach all the time just isn’t normal. After you eat or drink, food and liquids naturally expand your stomach and intestines, so at least a little "bump" is inevitable every single day.”
“Bottom Line: the degree of postmeal belly expansion has no correlation to how a meal impacts your health or your weight. “ – Very important! The immediate effects certain foods have on your stomach, do not predict how these foods will affect your healthy body or weight loss in the future! Broccoli bloat today, does not mean weight gain tomorrow! Dealing with the bloat is a better option than feeding yourself white, refined carbs all the time, or avoiding the produce aisle. Pick your battles and choose wisely.
In the mean time, try and avoid reading articles like this: Pregnant or burrito grande!
For real on this one? It doesn’t even look like she’s bloated, much less pregnant!
All an article like this does is add to the pressures women face and perpetuate issues with food and weight. I mean really? Let the poor girls eat something! Men usually have it easier in these regards. They never get asked if they’re pregnant after eating a cheeseburger or wings, why should women have to deal with this after having a salad? Or even if they have a slice of pizza instead, women should be able to eat without being scrutinized after every meal. In the mean time ladies, enjoy those tasty cruciferous veggies, follow the anti-bloat tips, and know that you are doing the right thing in the long run for your health!
Do you experience belly bloat after eating healthy? If so, what type of emotions go through your mind and how do you deal with it?
Does anyone have any additional tips on how to avoid the bloat?
What is your favorite fiber filled, or voluminous, meal?