Your pants are tight and your belly feels like a beach ball. Clearly, you must be PMS-ing, right? Not quite. It doesn't have to be that time of the month for your stomach to inflate like a hot air balloon. Belly bloat can strike at any time, turning even the flattest tummy into a faux baby bump. We may not be able to spot-reduce our stomach with 1,200 crunches, but we can get rid of extra padding by avoiding these water-retaining and gas-inducing triggers.
One of the biggest belly-bulge culprits is – you guessed it – salt. All it takes is one high-sodium meal to puff you up. Of course, many of us don't stop at one. According to Janis Jibrin, R.D., author of The Supermarket Diet, the average American consumes 3,700 mg of sodium a day. The maximum amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 1,500 mg. And, says Jibrin, we actually need a lot less. By reducing your salt intake, you could lose three pounds of water bloat.
Nix the salt shaker, for sure, but also avoid high-sodium processed foods, like canned soup, frozen entrees and deli meat. Cook from scratch and avoid eating out. Counter the effects of sodium by eating potassium-rich fruits and vegetables, like leafy greens, potatoes with the skin and bananas. "Potassium can lower the body’s tendency to retain salt and water," says Tara Miller, R.D., a public speaker for the New York State Dietetic Association.