Tag Archives: smoothies

7 Healthy Food Mistakes That Are Making You Bloated

It’s happened to many of us: you pride yourself on eating healthy – you drink superfood smoothies, eat dark leafy greens or a hearty chickpea salad, and still, somehow, a swollen belly pops out, forcing you to unbutton your pants and sit in bloated discomfort. Bloating isn’t as surprising when you consume foods you know aren’t good for you, but it can be an incredibly frustrating feeling when you do your best to eat healthy.

The gut is made up of billions of microflora that maintain your health – they support the immune system, help with weight loss, prevent disease and uplift your mood. Bloating is usually associated with poor digestion, bad diet, and an overgrowth of unwanted bacteria in the gut, but sometimes even healthy eating habits can lead to that unwanted protruded belly. Here are the top seven healthy culprits triggering a bloated tummy.

1. Cruciferous Veggies

It’s common knowledge that cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, are some of the most nutritious and antioxidant-rich foods, but they also have a bad rap for inducing a bloated belly and embarrassing gas. These veggies contain raffinose, an indigestible carbohydrate that passes through the digestive system without being broken down. When it reaches the large intestine, bacteria feed on it, releasing gas and causing a bloated belly.

This isn’t a reason to remove these veggies from your diet. Sometimes lightly steaming or cooking these vegetables make them more digestible and easier to chew, so they can break down further. Populating the gut with good bacteria through fermented foods like kimchi, kefir or sauerkraut can also help.

2. Superfood Smoothies

Smoothies are an easy way to get powerhouse vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and fibre all in one quick drink – but, sometimes when all of these ingredients combine together, a distended belly is the result. For some, combining fruit and protein or fruit and fat is a digestive nightmare.

To make your smoothie more gut-friendly, try adding fermented protein, fermented greens powder, kefir, dairy-free coconut yogurt or digestive spices like ginger and turmeric.

Related: Healthy Smoothies to Boost Your Immune System

3. Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit

Everyone knows this rhyme because beans, like chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and soybeans, are notorious for causing bloating and gas. Many vegans and vegetarians subsist on beans as an essential plant-based protein source. They’re also packed with heart-healthy fibre, minerals and vitamins, making them an optimal choice for any healthy eater. But, like cruciferous veggies, beans also contain raffinose, an oligosaccharide that remains undigested until it reaches the colon, when gas-producing bacteria feed on it, and voila, the bloat and gas duo begin.

Luckily, soaking dried beans overnight helps to reduce the gassiness. Cook them with seaweeds like kelp or kombu to increase their digestibility further.

4. Refreshing Watermelon

Watermelon may be a refreshing summertime fruit, but it’s also a bloating nightmare for some. You think you’re being healthy by skipping out on sugary dessert and opting for this juicy treat instead, but sadly, you may end up in a post-meal bloat-fest. Watermelon contains a variety of short-chain fermentable carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed by the gut and then fermented by bacteria, causing unwanted abdominal bloating.

Try fruits like pineapple or papaya instead, which contain natural enzymes that help with digestion.

5. Whole Healthy Grains

Whole grains like whole wheat, spelt, kamut, rye and barley can be found in salads, wraps, bread and pasta. These fibre-rich grains help eliminate waste and toxins from the body, but they also contain gluten and fermentable carbs like fructans. If there’s an underlying gluten sensitivity, which many people have, these gluten grains can cause mild to severe abdominal pain and bloating. The gas-producing bacteria in the colon will feast on the fructans, also leading to bloating and unwanted gas.

Switch to gluten-free recipes (check out these delicious gluten-free dinner ideas) and grains like quinoa, rice or gluten-free oats as a healthy alternative that will beat the bloat. Or, try spelt, wheat or kamut in a sourdough or sprouted bread to increase the digestibility.

6. Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are the base ingredients of most dishes, adding flavour and also immune support, but, like other foods on this list, they contain fructans that poorly pass through the small intestine and are then fermented by gas-producing bacteria in the colon, leading to bloating and flatulence.

Switch to other alliums like chives, or the green tops of scallions and leeks that are easier to digest. Use different flavours to build your dish like ginger, cumin or turmeric.

7. Drinking Too Much Water During Meals

Most people are dehydrated and, in an effort to consume more water, drink lots of fluids during meals. Drinking while eating actually dilutes important digestive juices, so food doesn’t get digested properly, which leads to bloating. Slowly sipping small amounts of fluids during a meal, drinking before eating or at least 30-60 minutes after a meal will help prevent bloating.

Not everyone will experience bloating from these healthy foods, but if you feel the bloat coming on, it’s usually a sign your gut needs some love and support. Remember to eat fermented foods full of good bacteria (think kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut), try a probiotic or eat a low FODMAP diet that limits bloat and gas-producing foods, like the ones mentioned above.

Looking for more gut-friendly tips and recipes? Here are the tastiest ways to eat more fermented foods along with the most flavour-packed recipes to boost gut health.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

a glass of creamy orange-banana smoothie on a marble countertop

Cold-Busting Citrus Smoothie That’ll Save You When Sick Season Hits

When flu season strikes, keep your immune system strong with this citrus-infused cold-busting smoothie. This drink is packed with nutrients, and features two anti-inflammatory agents: ginger and turmeric. Citrus in the form of orange and lemon add a punch of vitamin C, which is a necessity this time of year. For a vegan version, simply sub the Greek yogurt with a dairy-free alternative, like cashew or coconut.

Easy Cold-Busting Citrus Smoothie Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1-2

Ingredients:

1 large sliced banana, frozen
¼ cup full-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
½ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
½ Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
¼ tsp ground turmeric
4 ice cubes, or a handful of crushed ice
hemp hearts or chia seeds, to garnish

Directions:

1. Add all ingredients to a blender. Puree until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 60 seconds.

2. If mixture is too thick, add a splash more orange juice and blend.

3. Transfer to glass and garnish with hemp hearts or chia seeds.

Support your immune system with our favourite slow cooker comfort foods for sick days.

The New Year, New You Easy Green Smoothie You Need

It’s a new year and chances are you are A) still nursing one heck of a hangover or B) making a resolution of some sort to eat healthier. Smoothies are a great way to pack in lots of veggies when you don’t have the time or appetite to munch on a salad and unlike a juice, you get all the healthy fibre from the skin and pulp, making you feel fuller longer. In this smoothie, the sweetness of the apple juice helps temper the bitterness and grainy texture of kale, while the frozen blueberries keeps the smoothie cold and adds a tinge of tartness. Ginger has long been used as a home remedy to help with an upset stomach, but more importantly, its spice adds a nice kick to every sip.

Related: Cold-Busting Citrus Smoothie That’ll Save You When Sick Season Hits

Feel free to adjust the amounts of each ingredient to your taste and experiment with other greens and fruits you have on hand. Smoothies are also a great way to use up greens that are starting to wilt and would otherwise look sad in a salad. If you want to cut down on the amount of sugar, replace the apple juice with almond or coconut milk and add an additional teaspoon of maple syrup or honey. A scoop of unflavoured protein powder would also make this a nice breakfast option on the go.

Green Smoothie

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:

1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 ½ cups kale, stems removed and chopped finely
½ cup baby spinach leaves, chopped finely
½ cup frozen blueberries
1 cup apple cider or juice
1 tsp maple syrup

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Directions:

1. Peel ginger by scraping the skin off with the edge of a spoon.

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2. Blend all the ingredients in a blender until everything is well mixed and liquefied. Drink immediately.

Published January 5, 2015, Updated January 1, 2018