By Keri Glassman; Photography by StockSnap
Sorry to be the bearers of bad news
When you dive into a fruit salad or chomp your way through an apple, you might pat yourself on the back for choosing the healthy, satisfying option instead of diving into a bag of chips or a chocolate. But then… your pants feel tight. Um, WTH?
Listen up, ladies. It’s not you; it’s the fruit. While fruit is full of nutrients your body needs, some of those sweet, healthy treats can cause you to feel like you just devoured a tub of noodles. Here’s why: Fruit is loaded with sugar, in particular fructose and sorbitol (a sugar alcohol), and both of those nutrients can cause gas and bloating. It’s also full of fibre, which, in addition to keeping your belly flat in the long term by moving your GI tract along, can be hard to digest and create
Though you shouldn’t nix these delish and nutritious fruits from your diet, you might want to take extra steps to avoid feeling puffy post-snack. Here, why some fruits make you prone to bloat – and how to deal.
Apples are loaded with antioxidants. In fact, a green apple contains more antioxidants than berries. But it may not be your belly’s favourite daily treat. This fruit is loaded fructose, or fruit sugar, which some people have a tough time digesting. So when their system starts to break down all that sugar, they feel gassy – as in unbuttoning-your-pants-at-your-desk level of gassy. If this sounds like you, try eating half the apple instead of the whole thing – and chew it slowly. Since you’re eating less fruit, you’ll reduce the amount of fructose you’re consuming. And taking your sweet time to chew gives your body more of an opportunity to digest the fibre-packed snack.
As part of a healthy diet, pears get a thumbs way up because they contain pectin, a type of soluble fibre that helps lower cholesterol and keeps you full. Unfortunately, pears also contain a small amount of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that can occur naturally and is also added into things like chewing gum. And while a little bit of this type of sugar can be helpful for keeping your digestive system moving, some people might experience serious bloating – even from just a small amount of it. Since sorbitol is absorbed more slowly into the small intestine than other varieties of sugar, it can pass into your colon, where it ferments, which can cause bloating, gas, and cramps in some people. Unfortunately, there’s no way to reduce the effects of this sugar alcohol other than to avoid it. However, exercise will move that gas through your bod and reduce the bloating.
Cherries, Grapes, Mango and Pineapple
Who doesn’t secretly love spitting out cherry pits? But in addition to their fun factor and delicious taste, cherries – along with grapes, mangos, and pineapple – contain a lot of, you guessed it, sugar. Occasionally, some of that sugar doesn’t get completely absorbed in the small intestine, so it ends up getting stuck in the large intestine and causes you to fill up like a parade balloon. The best way to help your body completely digest all of the sugar so it doesn’t make its way into large intestine is to chew these fruits as thoroughly as possible. Sticking with a one-cup serving and limiting the amount of carbohydrates and sugars you eat the rest of the day can also help keep you de-puffed.
READ MORE: Eat This To Beat Period Bloat
Dried Apricots, Raisins and Prunes
Dried fruit can help make those trips to the bathroom more, um, productive, but it can also cause you to feel like the Michelin man. That’s because it’s a concentrated source of sugar and fibre, and the bacteria in your colon love it. Those little guys get to work fermenting the sugar and fibre that didn’t get digested and produce gas, which makes you feel four months pregnant. When indulging in this sweet fruit, make sure you consume it with extra water to keep your bowels moving and help eliminate bloat.
If you find that you’re consistently filled with hot air after eating these fruits, you may want to start a taking a probiotic supplement to improve the quality of the bacteria in your gut.
Looking for more on bloating? This is what nutritionists eat to beat bloated bellies.
Keri Glassman, R.D., is on Women’s Health’s advisory board and is the founder of Nutritious Life.