Many women suffer from abdominal bloating around the time of their period, but bloating is not always caused by your menstrual cycle. Consuming gas-producing foods, eating too quickly or simply overindulging can all make you reach for your elastic-waist pants—or at least unbutton the ones you’ve got on.
The best way to keep your stomach from bloating? Eat slowly so you don’t take in air along with your food and stay away from these offenders: beans, cabbage (including coleslaw), broccoli, onions, asparagus, pears, apples, peaches, alcohol and carbonated drinks. For some women, milk and other dairy products can cause stomach distention and feelings of gassiness that characterize bloating.
Water retention can also lead to bloating, although typically water is retained in all your body’s cells, not just your abdomen. In this case, your face, feet and hands may also be swollen. Although it may sound counterproductive, drinking plenty of water will help flush out the extra fluid stuck in your system. (Once it hits the bloodstream, it will be excreted as sweat or urine.)
Cutting down on your salt intake and eating foods that have a natural diuretic effect can also help. Dandelion greens as a salad ingredient are particularly effective. Other foods to consider: lemon, garlic, eggplant, cucumber, watermelon, parsley, celery, carrots and watercress.
While it may be the last thing you feel like doing when your midsection is swollen, exercise will help. A vigorous workout can be a great way to force out excess water and help you overcome any sluggishness you may be feeling.
But if your bloat just won’t quit, a physical exam may be in order. Certain conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, may be the cause.