I'm Gonna Drown You, Mister Fish!

Keeping Your Body Hydrated To Fight A Bloated Belly

Something really cool happened.

Something amazing and astounding and really exciting happened.

I went a whole day without being bloated!

(Cue the cheers.)

Okay, so maybe my gastric achievements aren't that exciting to anyone else, but there's a good lesson included in the story. I'm a girl who habitually adds salt to my meals (to the point where they're completely unpalatable to anyone else) and I'll have maybe two glasses of water a day, which is way short of the generally recommended eight. Oops. Both of these are perfect habits to get into if you're fond of the ballon-meets-Happy-Buddha (let's call it Baloonha) body type, where everything below your belly button looks like its been violated by a tire pump. Your pants dig into your guts whenever you sit. You feel chubby, even if you're a really athletic person. Your insides gurgle in the decibel range of a lawn mower with sounds unheard of since the prehistoric era. It's just all bad. But as far back as I remember, my body's always been like this, so I figured it was just a result of where my fat stores sit (raise your hand if you're a pear! Genetics and stress hormones* for the win!)

Enter my tea cabinet. Well, don't actually, because it's not that big. Inside there's cute little antique cups and saucers from GF's grandma, supplements I should be taking, a stash of hot chocolate for our ten-month-long winters, and tea. Shit-tons of tea. Ye olde standard orange pekoe, herbal, black, white, green, and one that turns the water hot pink. Loose, bagged, in containers and not. We have a hoarder-level stockpile of tea. It's herbageddon. I don't even know why there's so much of it. GF doesn't drink it. I don't drink it. I think its single purpose in being there is for us to force on guests.

“Did you want anything? Tea? Water?”
“I'm good, thanks.”
“Tea it is.”

But here I stood, six-o'-stupid-o'-clock in the morning, eyeing the teas with a lust usually reserved for GF's curry casserole. I brewed myself a cup and sat on the couch reading hippie magazines and probably contemplated life or something equally overwhelming enough to make drinking said tea automatic. I finished my mug of tea within an hour. Then I brewed another cup (I must've been sleepwalking), and sometime later had more. I drank tea like it was going out of style. I think I went through about five cups that day. The next day I had more. We went to visit relatives and I stuffed my face with freeloaded veggies and fruit. Downed more tea. Sipped water. Et cetera. I'm not sure what compelled me to keep doing it – maybe I was thinking of all those “green tea is good for you” articles the hippie mags had shoved into my memory – but it was starting to feel really good. I've got a cold constitution (anything under 24C is uncomfortable to me), and downing a couple of hot leaf juices before brekkie was warming me up and making my tummy happy. My body was getting much more than two cups a day of liquid. The tea stocks were starting to diminish. It was win-win for everybody but the kettle (he worked so hard!).

Maybe this is just happens to me, but do you ever notice how trim you look in the morning? As soon as I dump fuel in the tank (cue prehistoric noises), all the taut tummy muscles I'd been admiring in the mirror just give up and surrender to the Gravity Demons I'm convinced live in my intestines, but before I drink or eat anything I am the (less athletic-looking) prime example of firm form. I am a goddess with bedhead. I am rocking the pear hips like no D'anjou ever could. I am getting way too personal. Sorry.

Flash-forward (or -back, at this point) to the fourth day of my incessant tea-chugging. I eat breakfast. I have lunch. I lounge around all day. I perfect bad posture.

The Baloonha belly doesn't appear.

Bless GF for putting up with my raving about it at every quiet moment. I was ecstatic. As it turns out, ingesting piles of salt and not hydrating yourself are a perfect combo for chronic dehydration, which produces a bloated belly. My cells were starving for water, and the Dead Sea treatment I was sticking to was only making what liquids my guts could get all that more precious. We do get a good portion of water from our food (and I eat a lot), but two cups of pure H2O is hardly enough to feed everything in a 5'7” body, especially in the summer. Once I started pumping liquid into my body, my guts realized that there'd be more coming than what they had right now, and they didn't have to hang on to the water I put there a week ago.

It's like Finding Nemo, only your cells are Marlin, and Dory is the tea, and the water you drink is a wave of Nemos that--

Y'know what, let's forget that analogy. The point is, your body needs water, because it's 98% made of the stuff, and you keep crying and breathing and pissing it out. How rude of you. The polite thing to do would be at least to put back what you take out.

So, in review:

1) Your body is a hoarder and it needs reassurance. Feeding it water is feeling it love.

2) Cut back on the salt (I recommend piling on the garlic and onion) and double the liquids you consume if you get Baloonha Belly. You're probably dehydrated or constipated. Water helps both!

3) If you're like me and can't handle the cold, opt for tea instead of ice water for your daily drink. Just make sure you're sticking to herbal teas, because black and green contain caffeine, which is a diuretic (makes you pee) and don't technically hydrate you at all. Feel free to have a cup or two daily for the perk-up or antioxidants, however.

4) Tea > flavoured water/water flavouring. There's no added sugar or weird sugar substitutes and no chemicals in the former. Just rehydrated plant guts. Mmm. Plant guts.

'Til later,
- Leah

*The hormone cortisol, which is produced when you're really stressed out, lowers your sensitivity to pain and helps give you a burst of energy, which are good things if you're being chased by a bear. If you're chronically stressed, cortisol can screw with your blood sugar and pressure and a host of other things. If you've got a persistent spare tire of fat at the top of your hips, cortisol is probably involved.

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