Quick Fix: These Foods Make You Retain Water and Bloat Up

Updated 08/17/19
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We'll say it: Eradicating water weight and belly bloat are the two easiest ways to feel lighter with minimal effort. This is precisely why the idea of de-bloating is so appealing; you can actually see a difference in your body in just a matter of days without resorting to long-term dietary changes or even hitting the gym. In fact, bloating and water retention have everything to do with what you eat and drink (and certain supplements can help, too). 

When you consume too much sodium, your body may hold onto water, causing uncomfortable fluid retention and weight gain.

"Sudden weight gain is most likely fluid retention, and you may be able to lose it as quickly as you gained it with a few tweaks to your food choices," explains Livestrong. It explains that water retention is often the result of eating too much salt and processed, high-sodium foods, and not drinking enough water. "When you consume too much sodium, your body may hold onto water, causing uncomfortable fluid retention and weight gain," it adds. "Processed foods, such as deli meat, canned soup, frozen dinners, boxed meals, flavored rice mixes, snack chips, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salad dressing, pickles, fast food and Chinese food, are also high in sodium."

Ingredients like monosodium glutamate, or MSG, baking soda, sodium nitrite, sodium saccharin, and sodium benzoate have just as much of a role in inducing bloating as plain table salt. The publication suggests cutting out processed foods, limiting your daily sodium intake to 2300 milligrams or less a day (or one teaspoon of salt), and seasoning your food with other herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, dill, oregano, paprika, cumin pepper, onion, and sage instead. For further insight into the foods that cause bloating and water retention, we tapped registered dietitian and nutritionist Keri Glassman. Read up on the bloating foods to be aware of below. 

Meet The Expert

Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and founder of lifestyle and media company, Nutritious Life.


Carbonated sodas

"This one’s a no-brainer to take a pass on. The bubbles found in carbonated beverages may be oh so satisfying, but they can also build up in your stomach, causing uncomfortable bloating and gas." 

What to drink instead: "If a flat belly is what you’re after but you’re still looking for that caffeine fix, opt for something un-carbonated but just as delicious and with major antioxidant benefit like Argentinian yerba mate."

Non-nutritive sweeteners (Sorbitol, Erythritol, Xylitol)

"'Sugar alcohols' are often a bloating culprit. Sugar alcohols have a different chemical structure than actual sugar that affects the way the body metabolizes them. Sugar alcohols are considered low-digestible carbohydrates because they’re either partially absorbed in the small intestine or not absorbed at all, and this means they can cause some unpleasant GI symptoms and major bloating."

What to eat instead: "When you’re looking for something sweet, go for the real thing and enjoy it as a conscious indulgence." 

Cruciferous veggies

"While I absolutely recommend these veggies as part of a healthy diet (broccoli is a fave!), on the days you’re trying to really cut the bloat, these are some veggies to steer clear of. Because of their complex sugars and high fiber content, it’s harder for your body to digest them, often causing unwanted gas. Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and veggies of the like are the most common offenders."

What to eat instead: "When trying to cut the bloat, opt for noncruciferous and highly hydrating veggies like cucumber, green beans, and zucchini."


"As we age, we lose the enzyme needed to break down and process milk sugars and the side effect is often bloating. Try ditching milk, yogurt, and cheese and see how you feel. If you do notice a positive difference, try adding dairy foods back one at a time, starting with yogurt, to see which dairy product might be the offender."

What to eat instead: Try alternative milks, like almond milk, oat milk, and soy milk, and swap butter and sour cream for avocado.

Starchy foods

"Starches, especially the processed ones, like cereals, pastas, breads, and crackers, hold on to water, which means your body will too."

What to eat instead. "You can go without the toast and pasta, or choose whole grain and less processed options like brown rice instead of white, root vegetables, and oats as your source of carbohydrates."

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