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5 Seemingly-Harmless Foods That Cause Belly Bloat

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“Ugh, I have a food baby!”

My friend Sheryl had overeaten a bit at a cocktail party, and now she was feeling like a python that had just swallowed a pig. “This happens a lot. At least I know it’ll go away. No harm, no foul.”

But Sheryl shouldn’t be taking her temporary pregnancy so lightly. Bloating isn’t just a short-term discomfort that you can forget about once the “food baby” passes. Chronic bloating is a sign of inflammation and an unhealthy gut. That’s why Zero Belly Diet, my new weight-loss program, puts such an emphasis on reducing belly bloat; test panelists lost up to three inches from their waists in the first 10 days, and up to seven inches after six weeks. And that rapidly shrinking waistline translates into long-term weight loss and better overall health.

If you’re feeling suddenly gassy and bloated, here are some possible perpetrators of your prodigious protrusion. Cut them out of your daily routine, and discover more about the Zero Belly foods. (And keep losing weight with the essential 10 Daily Habits That Blast Belly Fat.)

Chewing Gum
Chewing gum may seem like a harmless habit, but one too many sticks can give whole new meaning to the phrase “bubble butt.” Sugarless gums typically contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol known for causing bloating and other gastrointestinal distress. Sorbitol takes a relatively long time to digest, and undigested sorbitol in your small intestine acts as a hothouse for the fermentation of bacteria, causing bloating and flatulence. Additionally, each chomp sends a signal to your brain, triggering hunger hormones. Stick to just a few pieces a day, or try a product like Simply Gum, which is made with only six ingredients, none of them artificial. (Or cut out gum entirely, along with these 13 Foods to Remove from the Fridge Forever.)

Nutrition Bars
You probably don’t think of beans when you unwrap a protein bar, but a lot of them include protein isolate derived from soybeans—something many people find just as gas-inducing as the musical fruit. Like other beans, soy contains oligosaccharides, sugar molecules that the body can’t break down entirely. With nowhere to go, these oligosaccharides hang out in the digestive tract, where they ferment, causing gas and bloating. Consider a soy-free brand like Larabar or KIND instead, or try one of these 50 Best Snacks For Weight Loss.

Dried Fruit
Nature’s candy, dried fruit can be a great source of nutrients and fiber. But it can also be a source of gas for those who suffer from fructose malabsorption, which occurs when the body has difficulty absorbing the natural sugar. Dried fruits are particularly high in fructose; fresh stone fruits, citrus fruits, and berries are safer options for those with sensitivity.

The Wrong Almond Milk
Almond milk is a better option than cow’s milk for those with lactose sensitivity, which is why I recommend it as a great base for Zero Belly drinks. But you may be undermining your goals if you’re buying a brand with the thickening agent carrageenan. Derived from seaweed, carrageenan has been linked to ulcers, inflammation, and other gastrointestinal problems. If you notice bloating after drinking almond milk, consider switching brands. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods 365, and Westsoy make versions without carrageenan. Plus, check out The Best Natural Bloat-Busters.

Canned Soup
Good for the soul but potentially bad for the stomach, soup can hide sky-high sodium counts that may lead to water retention and temporary weight gain. (Canned chilis in particular can have more than 800 mg of sodium per serving.) When you overload your system with salt, your kidneys can’t keep up; salt that would otherwise be flushed away has to sit in your bloodstream, where it attracts water, causing increased blood pressure and bloating. Look to stay under 500 mg if possible; Campbell’s Healthy Request, Progresso Light, and V8 all make reasonable options.

Strip away belly fat and lose up to 16 pounds in just 14 days—while eating the foods you love—with Zero Belly Diet—order it now for a post-holiday detox!

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