You know that certain foods can lead to bloating, like super salty stuff and carbonated drinks (we're looking at you, Diet Coke). But it turns out that certain food combinations have a similar effect. Nadya Andreeva, a certified wellness coach and author of the new book Happy Belly, explains which are the worst food pairings for your digestive tract—and what you should eat instead.
Dairy + Starch
Yep, pizza would fall into this category. And bagels with cream cheese. Sigh. "Dairy already takes a while to digest," says Andreeva. "Then, when you add starch to the equation, it takes even longer—and that's a problem because starch starts fermenting when it sits for too long in your digestive tract. And fermenting causes gas and painful bloating."
The safer approach? Skip the bread, and have your dairy with bitter greens (like kale, arugula, and endive) instead. "Eating bitter foods causes you to produce bile and helps you digest fats much better than starches," says Andreeva. Try to opt for organic sheep or goat cheese that hasn't been homogenized or pasteurized since it's the easiest kind of cheese to digest.
MORE:How to Get a Flatter Tummy Almost Instantly
Fruit + Protein or Starch
Fruit contains simple sugars that require very little time to be digested, meaning they won't stay in your stomach for very long—at least under normal circumstances. But when you eat them with a protein, like eggs, or you eat them right after your meal, for dessert, that's not the case. "What will happen is the fruit sugar will stay for too long in your stomach—until the protein is broken down, too—and this will create a very bubbly, bloated stomach," says Andreeva.
To avoid this, you can either eat fruit solo or wait to eat it for at least an hour after your main meal. That way, your other food will have a chance to digest, and the fruit can go through your system in its typically speedy fashion.
MORE:"Do I Actually Weigh More When I'm Bloated?"
Protein + Protein
Bad news if a chicken salad with black beans is a go-to for you: "Protein takes a lot of energy to digest," says Andreeva. "So in general, protein-protein combinations are not a good idea because they require more energy to digest." Translation: It can take a really long time before you feel properly settled.
Opt for just one main protein per meal, like a nice piece of fish with steamed veggies and bread or eggs on top of a kale salad. "Greens and non-starchy veggies go well with anything, so you really can't go wrong with them," says Andreeva.
MORE:5 Sneaky Health Foods That Make You Feel Bloated
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