“Eat your fruits and vegetables.” It’s been drilled into us since day one. Fruits and veggies have been one of the hallmarks of a healthy diet for ages, and no one’s disputing the nutritional boons they offer. However, there’s also no disputing that eating liberal amounts of produce can have negative effects on the abdominal region. Those negative side effects? In a word (well, two words): fruit belly.
Scroll down to find out what a "fruit belly" is and if it may be affecting you.
What Is Fruit Belly?
In a nutshell, fruit belly is bloated belly. As Romy Dollé, Swiss chef and author of Fruit Belly ($17), explains, it’s a side effect of the digestive stress brought on many common low-fat and plant-heavy diets. If you eat your fair share of salads, low-fat dairy, and whole grains (so basically everyone), you’ve probably experienced (or currently have) fruit belly.
The #1 culprit of fruit belly is—you guessed it—fruit. Fruit contains a lot of sugar, specifically fructose. Too much fructose causes bloating, inflammation, and stress on your digestive system. And despite being natural, the fruit we eat today is nothing like the wild fruits our ancestors ate. Today’s fruits are not only larger but sweeter, too. The bottom line is most of us eat too much fruit.
Secondly, while raw vegetables are some of the most nutritionally sound foods you can find, they don’t always play nice in your digestive system. Rather, they can ferment and produce gas during digestion, which means they cause bloating. Low-fat dairy, gluten, and other grains are pro-inflammatory and compound the digestive issues associated with eating raw fruits and vegetables.
The 4-Day Plan
So, what’s the fix? Eat less fruit, cook your vegetables rather than eating them raw, and always chew your food slowly and thoroughly to optimize the digestive process. Better yet, reset your digestive system with the quick-fix diet laid out in Fruit Belly. Dollé developed a four-day plan meant to eliminate excess water retention and gas trapped in the digestive tract. According to Dollé, the foods in the plan are all easily digestible, filling, and provide all the necessary nutrients.
The four days look a lot like the sample day above—plenty of soups, salads, and protein. (One of the days even involves bulletproof coffee.) You won’t find any raw foods, dairy, grains, soy, legumes, eggs, artificial sweeteners, or plant oils in the plan. The meals are designed to be eaten as a whole—there’s a reason behind eating pumpkin soup and chicken breast together—so Dollé warns against only eating part of meal. There is a vegetarian option, too. You can use salt, pepper, and herbs to season the food, but don’t add any other ingredients to recipes. If you don’t like one of the meals, you can sub in any other meal from the four-day plan. And the only beverages you’re allowed to drink are water (flat, not carbonated) and coffee and black or herbal tea (sans sugar, sweetener, and any form of dairy).
The diet is not intended for weight loss. Eating fewer carbohydrates and pro-inflammatory foods might reduce water retention. So whatever weight you may lose is most likely water weight. You might also see a reduction in the circumference of your waist (be sure to measure before you start the plan). By eliminating gas-forming foods from your diet and soothing your digestive organs, your waist might shrink. According to the diet, after the four days, what you see is what your belly should look like. If you’re already slim, your stomach should be flatter; if you have some weight to lose, you’ll get an accurate picture of how body fat has accumulated at your waist.
If you’re not ready to give up your apple-a-day and crudité habit, consider the 4-Day Quick Fix your lifeline when you need to look your best in a short period of time. If you want to make these changes a permanent part of your life, Dollé outlines the healthy eating approach that fits with her bloat-beating plan. Either way, the main takeaway is to eat less fruit if you want a flat belly.
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Cleveland Clinic. Upset stomach (indigestion): care and treatment. Updated November 1, 2016.