Because food is such a big part of your life (whether to keep your body nourished or help you get over that messy breakup), you need to start being aware of what you eat and how you eat. Ever felt heavy and bloated after a hearty meal? That’s probably because of these five factors that you need to stop, pronto! 


Eating too fast
No matter how delicious that steak on your plate is, be sure you chew it slowly and properly to avoid feeling heavy and bloated after your meal. Chewing is the first step in the digestion process and taking your time to chomp on your food slowly and thoroughly prevents air pockets from building up inside your belly. 

Drinking through a straw
Bloating is usually caused by swallowing too much air. While sipping through a straw can protect your teeth from stains and exposure from other substances, using a straw lets you sip in a certain amount of air as well (especially if you use one too often). The takeaway: use a straw only when it is badly needed.  


You can’t give up your soda habit
New York City-based nutritionist Stephanie Middleberg, RD of Middleberg Nutrition says that the tiny bubbles found in your soda are the reason why you’re puffing up. And before you reach for that diet soda, know this: That “diet” version will make you bloat more since artificial sweeteners (which are present in diet sodas) can't be digested.  


Chewing gum 
Just like sipping through a straw, chewing gum makes you swallow in more air.  And if your pack of gums is the sugar-free kind, expect to experience more bloating! According to Peter Whorwell, a professor of medicine at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, “sugar-free versions are worse as they contain ingredients such as sorbitol and xylitol, which are fermented by bacteria in the gut and may also cause bloating—double trouble.” 


Eating rich and fatty foods
There are good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated found in nuts and olives) and there are bad fats (saturated and transfat found in full-fat dairy products and red meat). Either way, eating too much of them can slow down your digestion, giving you a heavy feeling especially if you didn’t chew your food properly (See point #1!).

Photo: Flickr (Filip Bunkens)

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