It’s date night and you’re turning your wardrobe upside down for that cute dress you bought three months ago. It’s perfect, you thought, you’re going to look so -- oh crap, it doesn’t fit anymore.
We live in a time where we can easily compromise our gut health. Everywhere we go, we’re tempted by unhealthy deliciousness that we can easily buy with a few dollars.
Because of this, you can easily overfeed yourself with foods that don’t contribute to your overall health. Not only do you not fulfill your body’s nutritional needs, but you’ll also clog up your digestive system. So where do those extra calories go? To your waistline of course.
But sometimes, that extra fluff you see around your belly might be bloating instead. It’s not easy to tell the two apart, so, before you invest in a juice cleanse and gym membership, you might want to read on.
Bloating is the first SOS signal your digestive system sends you if it’s overloaded.
You’d usually experience it after a huge meal, especially if you’re a fan of anything heavy with gluten, dairy, and sugar. These types of food are really hard to digest, so your digestive system has to work overtime to process these foods.
Besides that, some food creates more gas than others, so that extra belly fat you thought you have might just be gas trapped in your intestinal tract. It’s not a cute look, but it’s really easy to adjust if you know what’s causing it.
Ask Yourself These Questions To See If You’re Bloated
How do you look in the morning?
We can’t all be Beyonce and just wake up like this. But checking yourself out in the morning can help you determine if you’re just bloated or gaining weight.
Your figure in the morning is your ‘normal’. This is because all the food you had the night before should have left your stomach and are now settling in your colon after a good night’s rest. Therefore, you shouldn’t look or feel bloated.
By comparing how you look in the morning and how you look at night, you’ll know if the extra padding on your tummy is belly fat or just gas. If you go to bed feeling fatter than in the morning, you might have a bloating problem.
Is it the time of the month?
Nature doesn't think it's torture enough to experience period cramps and bleeding out of your vagina. Your body needs to experience water retention too, just in case you need that extra dose of insecurity about your weight.
According to this study, bloating is most prevalent before and during the menstrual period. The main culprit? Your fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels.
Because of this hormonal imbalance, you’re more likely to retain water and salt, which will make your abdomen swell up like a balloon.
Is your tummy the only part that looks fat?
If you’re really getting fat, your stomach won’t be the only place that starts bulging. Although you might notice more weight gain in certain parts of your body, the extra pounds you’ve eaten will be more spread out throughout your body.
Besides that, bloating comes and goes while fat is harder to get rid of. So if you don’t notice a difference in most parts of your body, but noticed that your belly size fluctuates, you might have a bloating problem.
When was the last time you pooped?
Our total body weight doesn’t only include our bones, organs, and fats - it also includes our body waste.
When you’re constipated or ‘backed up’, the gas and the food waste trapped in your body can’t get out. Because of this, you will weigh more and your belly will expand to accommodate the extra things you need to pack in your stomach.
There’s no universally accepted pooping schedule though. Again, you have to compare it to your normal. Many things can contribute to poop-related bloating like dehydration, PMS, or even traveling. When you get to the bottom of your ‘abnormal’ poop schedule, you might see your bloated tummy slim down in a jiffy.
Have you changed your lifestyle?
Have you been eating out more than usual? Did you get an injury that made you less active than you were? Or are you taking a medication that can cause a lot of extra bloating?
Even the most minute lifestyle change can cause the biggest difference in how your figure looks. Stress, insomnia, and unhealthy habits are all factors that can contribute to extra weight or bloating.
Bloating can be caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and certain food sensitivities. Other times, you might have eaten one too many broccoli. When you are aware of how your lifestyle affects your body, you can catch hidden red flags in your body or tweak your lifestyle to get rid of that uncomfortably tight waistband.
So What’s Next?
If you are bloated, don’t panic! Bloating is often a temporary condition that comes and goes when you’ve done something to retain water or waste in your body. The most important thing in mitigating bloating is to make sure that you’re well-hydrated and not constipated.
Some people experience bloating more often than others and find it difficult to pinpoint the trigger. In this case, you might want to see a doctor to check if you have any underlying diseases or food sensitivities.
It’s sad and unfortunate to find out if you’ve truly gained weight, but you can overcome it with a little hard work and determination. Weight loss can be mitigated with small changes in your lifestyle, just as weight gain.
When it comes down to it, differentiating bloating and weight gain is a matter of knowing your body. After you learn that and start taking control of your body, it’ll be like nothing ever happened.