Q: Although I am quite slim overall, I often have a bloated, fat-looking tummy, which isn’t great for the bikini season. Can you suggest anything?
A: Intermittent bloating of the abdomen is often due to consuming particular foods or drinks, which cause gassy distension, and also to lack of ‘good’ gut bacteria and digestive enzymes.
If you are prey to bloating, take a digestive enzyme supplement. They play a key role in breaking down food, according to pharmacist Shabir Daya, and are vital for absorbing nutrients. Try Extrazyme 13, one capsule just before or with a main meal, from Victoria Health.
Also consider probiotics. Many people (myself included) find a daily probiotic helpful. Try Mega Probiotic ND, £18.50 for 60 capsules, take two daily – also before and on holiday to help avert ‘holiday tummy’. Live natural yoghurt and probiotic drinks (eg, Actimel) also benefit some people.
Turn detective. Note the foods and drinks that cause uncomfortable bloating. Frequent culprits are fizzy drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), sugary foods (including fruit, particularly at the end of meals), grains, and some starchy vegetables (because the starch turns to sugar), eg, root vegetables, sweetcorn, squash, cauliflower, beans, etc.
Eat slowly. Gobbling on the run gives your digestion a hard job. Sit down and concentrate on the food. Chew it thoroughly, and don’t bounce up from the table the second you finish; try to sit for five minutes, advises nutritionist Kathryn Marsden.
Drink fennel tea after meals. Naturopathic doctor Jennifer Harper-Deacon first put me on to fennel tea for bloated tummies. Pukka Three Fennel is delicious, £2.25 for 20 teabags. Also try Pukka Three Ginger, and Licorice & Cinnamon.
Some people benefit from food combining. This way of eating separates concentrated sources of protein (meat, eggs, etc) and carbohydrates (bread, pasta, etc). Read The Complete Book of Food Combining by Kathryn Marsden (Piatkus, £14.99*).
If your bloating persists, see your GP. It’s possible that you are sensitive to a food compound such as gluten or lactose. Ask if you should have a test for coeliac disease (coeliac.org.uk for more information); half of people with coeliac disease are also sensitive to lactose.
CARRY ON, NURSE…
Because nurses scrub their hands and apply sanitisers all day, many develop dermatitis and hands so dry that they crack and bleed, posing a risk of infection. The problem was so severe for paediatric nurse Antonia Steven that she had to take a week off work. So she set about developing an ultra-moisturising hand-cream formula – marketed as Yes! Nurse – based on natural ingredients including healing manuka honey and emollient seed plant oils. And, of course, Yes! Nurse can be used by everyone – I’m a big fan, not least because it smells delicious and is so affordable. £5.49 for 50ml, from Victoria Health.
ARE YOUR EARS BURNING?
Wearing a baseball cap through the sunny months may shield your eyes (and bald spots on chaps), but because women often tie their hair back, ears are often prey to UV rays. The incidence of skin cancer on ears is high, compared to other areas of the body. Recent research shows that although it tends to be basal cell carcinoma (which is seldom fatal), it is likely to be aggressive, and can cause significant damage and disfigurement by invading surrounding tissues. So it’s crucial to apply SPF30 sunscreen to your ears too, or cover them up.
THE WAY FORWARD FOR CHILDREN’S CAR SEATS
A well-designed children’s car seat can make all the difference to car journeys. I asked writer and mother-of-four Ophelia Froud to trial the forward-facing Britax Trifix. She says, ‘With four small children, we have tried six different car seats over eight years. Our 14-month-old daughter Stella moved into a forward-facing car seat five months ago, and sits quietly but rarely falls asleep. The Trifix was simple to install and within five minutes of leaving, she fell asleep for the whole three-hour journey. The Trifix is like a cosy throne, with different reclining positions and padded side wings. Plastic-coated clips puzzle-lock the harness and keep cool, however hot it is. A user-friendly button controls the tension of the harness. It also has 360-degree protection, to keep children safe from every angle of impact. It’s definitely worth the investment if you drive long distances.’ Britax Trifix, £319.99, suitable from nine months to four years (or 9kg-18kg), britax.co.uk, tel: 01264 386034.