Banish a bloated tum

Banish a bloated tummyPic: Getty

A festive season filled with mince pies, brandy butter and the odd boozy office do can easily leave you feeling heavy. And no matter how hard you work at the gym, a bloated tummy can be a tricky thing to get rid of.

The best way to beat the bloat is by watching what you eat and drink, so here are a few tips to help you on your way to a flat tummy for 2014.

Gut health
With all the adverts for probiotics on TV these days, most of us will have heard about those helpful little 'good bacteria'. A daily helping of probiotic yoghurt or drink will undoubtedly help to keep your gut in good health, but it's equally important to make a few simple changes to your regular diet.

Refined carbs like sugar, white bread, pasta and rice can be easily swapped for their healthier, low-GI alternatives, so think porridge and wholegrain bread and pasta, and you'll have a nicely balanced belly in no time.

Say no to salt
You don't have to do without seasoning altogether, but too much salt will lead to water retention and a bloated belly. While you might not think you're getting too much, everyday processed foods and ready meals are high in sodium, and even things like breakfast cereals can be loaded with salt. Check labels and add up what your sodium intake amounts to during the course of the day and you might be surprised at how much you're consuming. Simply cutting back a little will set you on the right path.

Potassium power
As well as cutting back on your sodium intake, adding some potassium-rich foods to your diet will give you an extra boost, since this powerful little mineral helps to counteract the water retention caused by excess sodium in the body. So chow down on some dark leafy greens, beetroot and oily fish, and snack on bananas and dried apricots.

Small is beautiful
Eating little and often is thought to be helpful as a weight-loss aid in itself, since you are far less likely to indulge in sweet treats during that mid-morning slump. And the small and regular meals trick is also a winner when it comes to a washboard stomach, since you won't get that after-dinner pot belly, nor work your digestive system too hard.

Cut back on booze
If you're still a little jaded from the party season, you may well be keen to cut down on your alcohol intake a few days into the new year. And banishing the booze will put you on the fast track to beating the bloat. For those who feel they need that little after-work tipple, try spritzers instead of a large Pinot, or intersperse your alcoholic drinks with water. Plenty of H2O will help to keep your digestion working well, and flush out all the nasties quickly.

What have you found helps to banish the bloat? Leave your comments below...