Bloating is generally the result of not being able to properly digest foods. These not-so-digested foods feel like they're just sitting around causing discomfort and a general feeling of being stuffed and “gassy”.
It can happen at any age but if it seems to be more frequent as you're getting older it can very well be because of your stomach's reduced ability to produce enough acid for proper digestion.
Normally, when we eat cells in our stomach release more acid which is important for so many digestive processes like breaking down foods and activating enzymes. As we age this process can become less efficient and the result can feel like it's wreaking havoc on the rest of the digestive system.
Unfortunately, this can have wide-ranging effects on all of our digestion abilities “downstream” and that can result in bloating.
Bloating Reason #1:
Sometimes our bodies are (or become more as we age) sensitive to the fiber in certain fruits or veggies. This can also occur when we introduce new ones into our diet as it may take a while for our body to get used to them.
Pro Tip: Try chewing your vegetables more thoroughly, or lightly cooking or steaming raw ones. If a fruit or veggie seems to be consistently related to bloating try eliminating it for a few weeks and monitor your symptoms.
Bloating Reason #2:
Decreased stomach acid can reduce the activation of a key protein-digesting enzyme “pepsin”. This means that the proteins you eat aren't broken down as much and they can pass through your system somewhat “undigested”.
Pro Tip: You may consider reducing the amount of animal-based foods you eat and see if that helps you out.
Bloating Reason #3:
One thing that can seriously cause bloating is when your digestive system slows down. Then things seem to be a bit stagnant, just hanging around in there a bit (a lot?) longer than you'd like.
Ginger has been found to help with digestion and reduce nausea for certain people. And peppermint is thought to help your digestive muscles keep pushing food through, so it doesn't stay in one spot for too long.
Pro Tip: Consider drinking a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger. See my recipe below.
Bloating Reason #4:
All this lack of digesting in your stomach and small intestine puts extra stress on the large intestine. The large intestine is the home of all of your wonderful gut microbes that have SO many functions in the body. The problem is when undigested food enters the large intestine it can feed the not-so-great microbes. These “unfriendly” bacteria produce waste material and gas as a part of their natural metabolism. The more of these microbes you have in your system (they will multiply if they are constantly being fed by undigested food in the large intestine) the more gas that will be produced in the large intestine.
Pro Tip: Try eating more fermented foods. Fermented foods contain probiotics which will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your system to keep the bad guys at bay. This includes things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as these don't cause bloating for you!). Make sure they're unpasteurized and contain live cultures. If you cannot tolerate dairy based yogurt and kefir dairy free options are available or you could make your own dairy free versions.
You can also consider taking a probiotic supplement. Just check the label first to make sure it's right for you.
Bloating Reason #5:
With reduced stomach acid you also have a reduction of the “activation” of several of your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them). In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food they need to be activated. This usually happens with the assistance of stomach acid.
Pro Tip: You may consider trying an enzyme supplement to assist your body in digesting food while you work on reestablishing your own production of stomach acid (a healthy diet and lifestyle can do this!). But before you do make sure you read the labels because some of them interact with other supplements, medications, or conditions, and may not be safe for long-term use.
You can try the “pro tips” I've given you in this post. Maybe you'd prefer working with a practitioner on an elimination diet to get to the bottom of which foods you may be sensitive to? If bloating is a serious problem you should see your doctor or alternative health care practitioner.
Recipe (Tummy Soothing Tea): Ginger Tea
Fresh ginger root (about 2”)
Lemon slices (optional)
Pour the water into a saucepan and heat it on the stove.
Grate the ginger root into the saucepan. Let it come to a boil, and then simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Strain the tea into a cup with a fine mesh strainer and add lemon and/or honey as desired.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: If you don't want to use a grater and strainer then you can peel the ginger and thinly slice it into your cup before adding boiling water. The pieces should be big enough that they will sink to the bottom.
Many essential oils have been recognized for their digestive health benefits. Check It out here!
I choose essential oils! Yes, I'm 47 years old and I occasionally get belly issues too.
DigestZen® takes advantage of these well-established healthy compounds in a proprietary blend of pure essential oils. Ginger, Peppermint, Tarragon, Fennel, Caraway, Coriander and Anise each have specific attributes which add to the overall efficacy of this potent blend. When used internally, dōTERRA's DigestZen helps reduce bloating, gas, and occasional indigestion.* For aromatic, topical, or dietary use.
Check It out here!
Yes, while I always say that it's better to get your nutrients from food first sometimes supplements are necessary.
Unfortunately there are just some all-too-common nutrients that we simply don't get enough of. And they're absolutely critical to optimal health and wellness. Especially as we age.
Here I sifted through the supplements that are available on the market and boiled them down to three that can have the best effect for us.
Supplement #1: Vitamin D
If you live in North America chances are you are low in vitamin D. It's the “sunshine vitamin” and we just aren't able to hang out in shorts every day of the year. Even if we did we'd wisely use a bit of sun protection too.
Vitamin D is very important for everyone but especially women over 45. Want to know why?
It helps to protect our bones!
Vitamin D helps our body absorb and keep the calcium we get from our food and drinks. And we all know that calcium is one of the main things our bones are made of.
Want to know something funny about vitamin D (but it's true, I swear)?
People who get enough vitamin D tend to fall less frequently. Especially as we get older.
Vitamin D can help your bones stay strong and help you fall less. Win-win!
Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for over 300 reactions in your body. Yes, 300!
As with vitamin D it's very common for us to simply not get enough. Not even the 320 mg per day that's recommended.
Low levels of magnesium have been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, low bone density, and even migraines.
Magnesium is found in so many healthy whole foods like beans, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables. In fact, the magnesium element is central to a plant's chlorophyll – it's actually what causes green plants to be green! And most of us just don't get enough green plants into our bodies on a regular basis. (You know I have a recipe with green leafies for you below, right?).
Magnesium is a very common supplement and is often added to multivitamins.
We've all heard that we need to get more omega-3 essential fatty acids, right? They're good for our hearts, brains, and help to reduce inflammation.
These are all good things when it comes to our health and wellness.
But not all of us are ready, willing, and able to eat fish three times per week.
While fish oil supplements contain the “brain healthy” fats called EPA and DHA, those two are not technically the “essential” fats. The plant omega-3 known as ALA is essential and that is because our bodies can convert ALA into EPA and DHA when necessary.
Omega-3 supplements can be found in forms of flax oil, algae oil, fish oil, or even fish liver oil.
Pro Tip: Fish liver oil (e.g. cod liver oil) also contains vitamin D so check your labels and add the amounts together to know how much vitamin D you're actually getting.
Three supplements to consider now that you're 45 are: vitamin D, magnesium, and omega-3s.
Always read the supplement labels to see if there are warnings that would make them inappropriate for you. And, of course if you have any medical conditions or take medications or other supplements it's always a good idea to speak with your doctor before starting anything new.
Recipe (Vitamin D, Magnesium & Omega-3s): Salmon Quinoa Buddha Bowl
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup quinoa (cooked)
1 can wild salmon
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
½ red onion (diced) (optional)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash salt and pepper
Split spinach, quinoa, wild salmon, sesame seeds, and onion (if using) between two bowls.
Mix sesame oil, rice vinegar, and lemon juice together and pour on top of prepared Buddha bowls.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: When looking for canned salmon try to get the ones with the most vitamin D and make sure cans are BPA-free. Good quality canned fish is usually in the “natural foods” section of many large groceries.
Do you love your breakfast? Do you have a short list of “go-to” recipes? Do you need a bit of inspiration to start eating breakfast again?
Getting some protein at each meal can help with blood sugar management, metabolism and weight loss. This is because protein helps you feel fuller longer and uses up a bunch of calories to absorb and metabolize it. So I'm going to show you how to get the protein, as well as some veggies and healthy fats for your soon-to-be favourite new “go-to” breakfasts.
Breakfast Food #1: Eggs
Yes, eggs are the “quintessential” breakfast food. And for good reason!
No, I'm not talking about processed egg whites in a carton. I mean actual whole “eggs”.
Egg whites are mostly protein while the yolks are the real nutritional powerhouses. Those yolks contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats.
Eggs have been shown to help you feel full, keep you feeling fuller longer, and help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin.
Not to mention how easy it is to boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in the fridge for a “grab and go” breakfast when you're running short on time.
And...nope the cholesterol in eggs is not associated with an increased risk of arterial or heart diseases.
One thing to consider is to try to prevent cooking the yolks at too high of a temperature because that can cause some of the cholesterol to become oxidized. It's the oxidized cholesterol that's heart unhealthy.
Breakfast Food #2: Nuts and/or Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Nuts and/or seeds would make a great contribution to breakfast.
You won't be fooled by “candied” nuts, sweetened nut/seed butters, or chia “cereals” with added sugars – you know I'm talking about the real, whole, unsweetened food here.
Nuts and seeds are also the ultimate fast food if you're running late in the mornings. Grab a small handful of almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds as you're running out the door; you can munch on them while you're commuting.
Not to mention how easy it is to add a spoonful of nut/seed butter into your morning breakfast smoothie.
Hint: If you like a creamy latte in the mornings try making one with nut or seed butter. Just add your regular hot tea and a tablespoon or two of a creamy nut or seed butter into your blender & blend until frothy.
Breakfast Food #3: Veggies
Yes, you already know you really should get protein at every meal including breakfast; but this also applies to veggies. You know I recommend veggies at every meal, right?
Veggies are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, and water. You can't go wrong adding them into every single meal of the day so if you don't already you should definitely try them for breakfast!
And no, you don't need to have a salad or roasted veggies for breakfast if you don't want to but you totally can! You wouldn't be breaking any “official” breakfast rules or anything like that.
Adding some protein to leftover veggies is a great combination for any meal. Including breakfast.
I've included a delicious recipe below for you to try (and customize) for your next breakfast.
Recipe (Eggs & Veggies): Veggie Omelet
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 or 2 eggs (how hungry are you?)
¼ cup veggies (grated zucchini and/or sliced mushrooms and/or diced peppers)
dash salt, pepper and/or turmeric
Add coconut oil to a frying pan and melt on low-medium heat (cast-iron pans are preferred).
In the meantime grab a bowl and beat the egg(s) with your vegetables of choice and the spices.
Tilt pan to ensure the bottom is covered with the melted oil. Pour egg mixture into pan and lightly fry the eggs without stirring.
When the bottom is lightly done flip over in one side and cook until white is no longer runny.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: Substitute grated, sliced, or diced portion of your favourite vegetable. Try grated carrots, chopped broccoli or diced tomato.
It can be too easy to think (or worry) about your weight.
But you know what? There is something else that may be more important when it comes to real health. That is your waist circumference.
Ahh, just a minute! It's not just about the “pinchable” fat under the skin (you know, that “muffin top”), it's about the internal fat around your abdominal organs that can be the real issue.
That internal fat (AKA “visceral fat”) is known to release a bunch of hormones and inflammatory compounds that can mess with your blood sugar, blood fats (i.e triglycerides), and blood pressure.
In today's post I'll describe how to measure your waist circumference and then give you a bunch of actionable tips to help you reduce it. And (of course) there's a super-nutritious recipe at the end.
Why Your Waist Circumference Matters 100x More Than What You Weigh
You totally want to ditch your scale, don't you?
You may have this weird kind of relationship with your “weight”.
I mean, it doesn't define you (obviously).
What you weigh can matter but only to a certain extent.
Let's look at your waist circumference (well...you look at yours and I'll look at mine).
Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”):
Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.
THAT is what we're talking about here.
Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).
Yup – that apple!
And it's not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”. The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.
This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that's where a lot of the problem actually is. It's this “un-pinchable” fat.
The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.
And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.
So as you can see where your fat is stored is more important that how much you weigh.
Am I an apple or a pear?
It's pretty simple to find out if you're in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape. You can do it right now.
Women, if your waist is 35” or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category. Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course.
For men the number is 40”.
Of course this isn't a diagnostic tool. There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them.
If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.
Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:
Recipe (High fiber side dish): Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 lb Brussels sprouts (washed, ends removed, halved)
2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
dash salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a bowl toss sprouts with garlic, oil, and lemon juice. Spread on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for about 15 minutes. Toss.
Bake for another 10 minutes.
Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Brussel sprouts contain the fat-soluble bone-loving vitamin K. You may want to eat them more often.
The Food Marketing Institute has recently reported that 71% of us are cooking at home more often these days. That means more people are buying fresh produce, meat, and kitchen staples in the grocery store.
How can you make a trip to the store quick and cost efficient?
The quick answer is....meal planning!
When you plan meals, you automatically take stock of what you have in the pantry and fridge and choose dishes that make use of what you already have.
That is rule #1 – Effective meal planning and grocery shopping makes use of what is already on hand.
As you write down the meals you want to make throughout the week, list the items you need to purchase. This ensures that you have what you need and nothing extra.
Make sure to include enough foods from each food group, with special attention to fresh vegetables and fruits for every meal as well as snacks.
At the grocery store, always keep an eye out for sales on grain products like rice, whole grain or gluten free pasta and oats so you can stock up and have them as staples for every meal.
Frozen fish, frozen vegetables and even frozen fruit are also good to keep on hand for quick entrees, side dishes and smoothies when you haven't had a chance to buy fresh ingredients.
Aside from sale items that are a smart buy, stick to the list on your meal plan and shop the perimeter of the store. Avoiding the inner aisles reduces excessive spending on items of limited nutritional value.
Oh my gosh – nutrition and diet info is everywhere!
And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?
Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat. This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it's certainly not the “holy grail” of health.
Let's focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.
What you eat and drink
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important. Don't get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that's simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.
When the intense focus on how much we ate didn't work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn't we?
You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don't forget to also pay attention to what you eat.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
How you eat and drink
Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.
Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?
When it comes to how you eat let's first look at “mindful eating”.
Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?
We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.
And don't forget about drinking your food.
Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.
Don't get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. And don't gulp it down too fast.
If your smoothies don't fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.
Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.
Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chia Peach Green Smoothie
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 chopped peach
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend).
Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk.
Blend, Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions. Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.
Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.
Sometimes those holiday feasts are just amazing.
And it's not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance.
It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days.
But it doesn't always stop there.
Sometimes we overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time.
Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals.
(Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)
Tip #1: Start with some water
When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it's too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.
But did you know that it's possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger? Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.
Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten. And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (...just sayin').
Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.
Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”
You've heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?
This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.
Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.
Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.
When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.
So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.
Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.
Tip #3: Start with the salad
You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.
But don't start there.
(Don't worry, you can have some...just after you've eaten your salad).
Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they're full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.
Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller. They're “satiating”.
And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you're about to indulge in a large meal.
Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.
Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas
If you're not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water:
Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning. They're already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.