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I was having a seriously rough stomach day yesterday. I was so bloated I contemplated unbuttoning my pants at my desk, multiple times. Of course, I chose the perfect day to wear a tank top tucked into my pants with a sheer top over it, so I couldn’t hide the unbuttoning. Fail. No position was comfortable, no moving of my waistband would bring relief. I felt like this guy from the moment I woke up until I got home from work:

Bulge

This used to happen to me all the time, before I cut out gluten from my diet (along with many other symptoms), but I’ve had it fairly under control for the last couple of years. Every once in a while I have a bad day or two, but I can usually link it to something. But this time I was stumped. When I was seeing a nutritionist while in grad school (since I was a “special case” I got multiple sessions for free), we talked about a host of other issues that could cause similar symptoms, one of which is fructose malabsorption. Funny thing, I’ve been eating apples this week, much more than usual, because I made an apple pie over the weekend. Apples are high on the list of no no’s for their fructose content. Hmmmm…well, at that point, I didn’t care what caused it, I just wanted it gone.

I’m not one to take medications of any sort if I can help it. My body is extremely sensitive to foreign chemicals, for one, and two, I’m just too much of a scrooge to shell out valuable grocery dollars from my budget for things like Bean-o or whatever else is supposed to pass the gas. So, I decided to do some Google research, for foods that naturally aid in digestion and relieve bloating. I found a whole host of websites and ideas and suggestions, lots of which would require me to go to the grocery store and buy specialty products. Nope. I ain’t got no monies for that. I decided to just stick with those fruits and veggies that I almost always have on hand, and combined them all (well, the ones that would reasonably taste good together) into one smoothie. I would keep it simple, healthy, and make it easy to recreate whenever I needed (which hopefully isn’t too often).

And, to demonstrate, I decided to do something else that I never do: take pictures of my stomach. I’m definitely one of those people who scoffs at all the instagramers who take pictures of their rock-hard abs to show the world how well they’re doing, with their organic, paleo, raw food, Whole Paycheck groceries, running every day, impossible for me lifestyle. (No, I’m not bitter about it or anything). And, look here I am, posting pictures of my stomach – but for a very different reason. For one, I did it as an experiment for myself, to see if the smoothie I made with de-bloating foods would actually work. And two, I did it for demonstration purposes, first for Marco so he would understand what I mean when I say “Uuuugggghh I’m bloated and dying” and then for you all to see that, while food can certainly hurt us, it can also heal us.

I took the first picture around 5:15PM when I got home from work (and peeled myself out of my pants). Then, I made this smoothie:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of frozen strawberries
1/2 cup of frozen pineapple
1 two-inch chunk of ginger, peeled
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of low-fat yogurt, french vanilla
1/3 cup of almond milk, unsweetened

 
I drank this while making dinner (mushroom clafoutis, curried potatoes and polenta chips, so not exactly the healthiest of meals), ate dinner around 7:15PM, and took the second picture around 8:20PM. So that’s a little over 3 hours, and look at the difference (Ma, disregard the mess, I totally cleaned it up after):

photo (6)

I swear to you, with my hand on the America’s Test Kitchen How Can It Be Gluten Free cook book, that I neither sucked in nor pushed out my tummy, this really happened and it happened in 3 hours.

I felt SO much better. It was kind of amazing. It took a little time, certainly, but it was totally worth it, because I also felt great when I woke up the next morning. As in, I almost didn’t even need coffee. *Almost.* So I made another smoothie to go, to take to work with me as an afternoon snack, and I’m still feeling great.

How crazy simple was that? If I just take the time to be smart and thoughtful about what I’m putting into my body, it can have lasting, positive effects. AND I can do it without wrecking my budget, with foods I buy and keep in my freezer/fridge all the time anyways.

If you don’t have all of those ingredients listed above, or want to try something different, here’s a short list of other de-bloating foods:

Asparagus*
Banana
Blueberries
Chili Pepper
Cucumber
Dandelion
Fennel
Grapefruit
Lemon
Mango*
Orange
Papaya
Parsley
Peppermint

 
*These two are no no’s if you’re monitoring your fructose intake, as are the juice versions of any of the fruits listed as they tend to have added sugar.

What do you do to pass the gas, relieve the pain, or just to feel better?

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a doctor, nutritionist, dietitian, or have any sort of medical background. I am only an expert on my own body (well, I’m working on it), so what works for me may not work for you. You should always consult someone with legit credentials before changing your diet or lifestyle, and you must assume the risk in doing so. K? K.

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