That gas you feel when eating out can be traced to extra fat, sugar and salt.
by Keecha Harris, Dr.PH, R.D., for MSN Health & Fitness
Q: What is it that is added to foods in restaurants and fast food places that bloats your stomach? The bloated feeling is so bad that it seems as if you have inhaled air or gas. What can a person do to avoid getting bloated? Beano and other gas relievers don’t do the job.
A: Extra fat, sugar and salt: All key differences in the preparation of restaurant foods. Restaurants serve foods aimed at appeasing our most primitive sensory triggers, fat and sugar. Add salt and overpowering aroma to that mixture and you get a sensational urge to eat—and clean your plate. Meanwhile, your digestive system is saying “hold the bloat.”
Let’s face it: Chefs cut their teeth on butter. The same steak, potato, broccoli and rolls that you prepare at home can have hundreds more calories when eaten out because the meat is marinated in butter or oil, the broccoli is saturated with butter or cheese sauce, the rolls are baked with loads of fat before you butter them at the table, and the potato is loaded with bacon, sour cream and butter. All of the extra fat makes you feel bloated and your stomach distended. You might also suffer diarrhea as your gall bladder struggles to process all of the extra grease.
An extra 500 to 600 calories per week from dining out can add up to nine unwanted pounds over a year’s time. Plus, all of the sodium can aggravate conditions like hypertension and kidney disease. So stick with the basics to avoid the bloated feeling. Here are a few tips to cut back on fat and calories when eating away from home:
Request unbuttered buns and toast.
Let the server know that you want steamed, unbuttered vegetables.
Get crackers instead of rolls.
Opt for salads with fat-free or low-fat dressings instead of ranch and Russian.
Eat smaller portions.
Even if your main course was not the steak special, there are other food triggers that may have caused the discomfort. Carbohydrate sources like beans, cabbage and other greens, onions, garlic and whole grains—plus the fructose found in fruit, honey and soft drinks—also can cause bloating. These foods contain more indigestible carbohydrates than others. They are also rich in fiber, which contains indigestible carbohydrates. The sugar alcohols found in some artificial sweeteners can trigger bloating. What’s more, sodium can cause swelling. Watch how much you drink; fluids occupy more space than solid food.
Finally, you can also walk away from the pain. You’ll find that a long stroll after eating will help, too.