Don’t let your diet ruin the big occasion

What you eat and drink plays a critical role in helping you to look and feel your best when you walk down the red carpet.

Although most of us will only ever experience LA’s Kodak Theatre from the comfort of our sitting rooms, we can all relate to the desire to slip effortlessly into our favourite dress to create a special entrance. If the event is just days away, you don’t have time to lose any significant amount of weight, but you can help yourself to feel and appear slimmer by overcoming the dreaded bloat. Scientific studies establishing the best “antibloat” plans are virtually nonexistent, but we are lucky enough to have a few enlightened doctors and medical herbalists to give us some assistance.

Go salt free. As Graham MacGregor, a Professor of Medicine at St Georges Hospital, southwest London, explains:   When we eat excess salt, our bodies hold on to extra water to dilute its presence. Such retention of salt causes us to hang on to as much as 1.5 litres (two and a half pints) of fluid, causing weight gains of around 1kg (2-3lb). Switching to a low salt intake can cause losses of this fluid.  Bloating and swollen ankles can  deflate   within days.  Exactly the same principles apply to the menstrual cycle, where many women swell up. A reduced salt intake can often relieve symptoms dramatically,  he says.

The best way to do this is to cut out all processed foods
, since 75 per cent of our salt comes from these. Stick with sugar-free muesli or eggs for breakfast and lean meat and fish with lots of salads and vegetables at other meals, with fruit for snacks.

Eat slowly. Dr John Hunter, a consultant physician at Ad-denbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, and an authority on food in relation to the gut, advises:  Treat your gut with respect. Eating very quickly and drinking fluids at the same time makes it more likely that you will swallow a lot of air, leading to bloating. Avoid chewing gum, too, since it to can cause you to swallow extra air.

It is worth taking it easy and trying to relax before a big night out.  It is not uncommon for people to hyperventilate without being aware that they are doing so,  Dr Hunter says.  During the day large volumes of air can be swallowed in this way, resulting in bloating.  Chamomile tea is certainly worth trying, to help you to calm down. As medical herbalists such as Dr Ann Walker, of Reading University, tell us, its active volatile oils contain the compound apigenin, which acts on the same parts of the brain and nervous system as those affected by antianxiety drugs and can calm both our minds and our digestive tracts.

Swap to soya milk. Lactose is the sugar in milk and if not digested properly by the enzyme lactase in the small intestine, it passes into the colon to be fermented by bacteria that produce gases and cause bloating. Lactose intolerance can be absolute and for life, yet some of us can experience transient symptoms. Swapping to soya milk for a few days may just help to relieve a bout of bloating. Avoid vegetables with gassy notoriety.Burbulence, the various windy symptoms that arise from gas in the gut, is said to be encouraged by peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Avoiding these is probably a good idea on your   Oscar  day.

Beans, too, can notoriously cause bloating, as Dr W. Grant Thompson, professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa, explains in his book Gut Reactions:   Beans contain a   wind factor’ consisting of the complex saccharides stachyose and raffinose. These cannot be absorbed by the intestine because the enzymes necessary for their digestion do not exist in humans. Certain colon bacteria are capable of metabolising these substances, thereby releasing hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide.

Avoid fizzy drinks.
Both Dr Hunter and Dr Thompson also suggest the elimination of carbonated drinks to avoid abdominal distension. This is well worth doing both the day before your big event and on the evening itself to help to maintain your smooth and elegant lines, although personally I do not think a glass of champagne will hurt.

From:Times on line

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