Picture this: It's New Year's Eve, you're getting ready for a party and you're about to slip into the perfect little (OK, tiny) black dress.
You can't wait, especially because the guy you've had your eye on will be at the party, and once he sees you in this dress there's no way you won't get a midnight kiss.
And just like that, your stomach starts feeling a little bit off. Then it starts to hurt. Yup, you're bloated, and it's not pretty -- and it especially won't be pretty when you try to wriggle into that tiny dress.
You've been eating well, getting enough exercise and you don't have your period. What went wrong? It's a mystery, and you're not happy about it.
To ensure this isn't you come December 31, let's talk about what actually causes bloating.
You're eating reheated food.
Here's another reason to do some home cooking: A big plate of reheated food, which is often what you get at restaurants, is basically your stomach's worst enemy.
According to The Daily Mail, reheating starchy foods turns them into "resistant starches," meaning they can't be digested in the small intestine and go straight to the large intestine, causing gas and bloating.
Nutritionist Luci Daniels explains,
I have patients who say they only get tummy trouble or bloating when they eat pasta, rice or potatoes in a restaurant. This is often because these foods have been reheated.
So the next time you think about microwaving the greasy leftover pizza you somehow didn't finish while you were drunk last night... don't.
Your hormones are messing with you.
Listen up, ladies: When it comes to bloating, your hormones are not on your side.
During the "luteal" phase of the month -- or the two weeks before your period -- women retain water, causing bloating in the body, including the abdomen.
Not only that, as estrogen levels fall and progesterone levels rise, the gastrointestinal tract doesn't empty quite as quickly
What does this mean? You can say "goodbye" to your happy, flat stomach and "hello" to an uncomfortable, bloated one.
You're chewing too much gum.
Bad news for all you gum-chewers out there: All that xylitol and sorbitol -- the ingredients in sugar-free gum -- are hard on your stomach. Sugar-free drinks aren't much better, either. Oftentimes they have similar chemicals in them, so beware of how much diet soda you're drinking.
And it's not just chemicals. When you chew gum, you inhale extra air. That air fills up your gastrointestinal tract, and voilà! You're bloated.
Yep, it might be time to kick your gum habit.
You ate a veggie-heavy meal.
Hate to break it to all you health nuts out there, but some vegetables cause major bloating.
The culprits are foods like brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and onions. As nutritious and delicious as these veggies are, they produce gas in your gastrointestinal tract and can lead to bloating.
We're by no means telling you to stop eating any of these vegetables. Just steer clear of them on days you have plans to wear a bikini or anything form-fitting.
You just ate too much.
Sorry, but sometimes there's no getting around it. Eating way too much will probably make your stomach stick out farther than you want it to.
In this case, we can't really blame you. Because, come on -- that all-you-can-eat sushi dinner was totally worth it, right?
We think so. Don't beat yourself up.
Now that you have your facts down, you can breathe a big sigh of relief and say "goodbye" to all that mystery bloat. Good luck!