Your favorite jeans fit perfectly a few days ago, but now they won’t zip up! Blame fluid retention and trapped gas — problems that plague 62 percent of us this time of year thanks to holiday favorites like mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, UCLA researchers say. The great news: You can flush that ‘false fat’ in a blink with these simple, study-proven strategies.
Relax in a pre-party bath.
You already appreciate how a soothing daily soak induces a deep sense of calm. Now, science shows that taking a warm bath before your festivities will cut the amount of belly-swelling air that you swallow by 67 percent for four hours straight — plenty of time to enjoy your meal without discomfort. Plus, it can help you flush out 89 percent more trapped fluids, Canadian researchers say. Explains physiotherapist John Cronin, Ph.D., immersion in warm water boosts blood circulation and lymph flow, quickly flushing trapped fluids out through your kidneys.
Stretch in the bathroom.
Once you step out of your bath, stretch your towel overhead and bend from side to side, then lower it behind your back to dry. Lean over from your waist to towel off each of your toes. Simply taking two minutes to do a few leisurely, full-body stretches before each meal helps end bloat and gassiness for 80 percent of women in 48 hours, say researchers at New York University’s Winthrop Hospital. Nutritionist Lisa Johannesson, Ph.D., explains that stretching moves trapped gas out of the intestines, plus it encourages the release of digestive enzymes, which help you break down food properly, so gas is less likely to form.
Add fiber to your snack.
Top a snack of plain yogurt with 1⁄3 cup of fiber-rich cereal like All-Bran Buds, and your tummy could shrink by 2 inches in 24 hours. That’s the word from Yale University researchers, who say fiber stimulates intestinal muscle contractions — easing constipation — plus it binds to bloat-triggering sugars in the digestive tract, forcing them to be excreted before they can be absorbed.
Sit up on the drive over.
Sitting comfortably upright when you’re driving or chatting at the dinner table could cut your belly bloat by 72 percent — often from the very first day, Italian researchers report. The reason? Your digestive system needs to release up to three cups of gas daily (some of that is swallowed air; the rest is produced in your intestines), and good posture allows air to escape promptly, so your belly doesn’t balloon out during the evening.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.