Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bananas and Dandelion Tea: Breakfast of Champions

My in-laws are here for a visit, which means there is a lot of yummy Chinese food happening. They are big-time foodies and great cooks. I know, you want to come over.

I really don't want this to be a TMI blog, but I seem to have some issues with fluid retention, and Chinese food is a major culprit for me, especially when it's restaurant Chinese food. At home, I season my food lightly with sea salt, so I'm not used to taking in a lot of sodium, and restaurant food is full of it. I turn into a massive fluid hoarder. I could be a reality show on TLC with all this water I'm holding onto. It seems to be getting worse as I get older. Now, rather than my clothes just being tight, I also get these digs under my eyes. It looks like someone took a chisel to my face. I'd post a picture, but I wouldn't want to scare anyone. That, and I'm vain.

Ok, so now that the dudes are out of the room, we can get real. Fluid retention affects everyone at some level, but let's face it--it's more common in women. Bloating is one of the more unpleasant symptoms of PMS. It's pretty harsh, particularly since you're already witchy and crying at every Geico commercial. It would be nice if at least your clothes fit.

I had a bout of bloat so bad over the summer that I did some exhaustive internet research on what to do about it. Once again, hard-hitting journalism here at the barre, people. Here's what I found:

  • Fluid retention results from a potassium/sodium imbalance. Eating potassium rich foods restores equilibrium. Bananas are commonly thought of as a great source, but actually sweet potatoes top the potassium list, followed by tomato paste. Who knew?
  • Drink lots of water. That may seem counter-intuitive to some, but drinking water when you're retaining fluid is the best thing you can do. It flushes out your system and reassures you poor bloated body that you are not, in fact, in a desert. You only ate General Tso's chicken at Lucky Chang's Chinese Emporium.
  • Adding mint and cucumber supposedly helps, too. I get why the water-rich cukes would help, but not so much the mint. I grow mint, though, so I'll toss some mint leaves in my water. Why not?
  • Another interesting suggestion I found was drinking dandelion tea. Yes, the pesky weed. I don't know why this supposedly works, but I found many references to it on the blessed internet, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I went to Whole Paycheck and paid... wait for it.... eight frickin' dollars for a box of dandelion tea bags. This was particularly painful since my lawn, at the time, was full of dandelions. Next summer I'm making my own. And selling it outside Chinese restaurants.
  • Here's a bit of an odd one: take a teaspoon of Angostura Bitters--straight. You can find this at liquor stores, since it's typically used to flavor cocktails. It's kind of clovey/spicy. Given the name you'd think it would be really vile tasting, but it's not really that bad, definitely better than the baking soda I recommended last month to reduce muscle soreness. I got this tip from a model who swore by it, so take that with whatever value you give to the opinions of fashion models. I'm willing to bet someone who makes her living from looking good might actually know what she's talking about.
  • Lastly--parsley. When Lucky Chang's brings you your dinner, don't just ditch the parsley garnish--eat it! Parsley is a natural diuretic.
Here are a few of the items from my anti-bloating arsenal. They're at the ready this week. Honestly, I've never isolated any of these variables so really can't attest to the validity of any of these claims. Usually I'm so miserable when bloated that I try them all at once and eventually things get better. Who knows which, if any, is the magic bullet.

In the meantime, I'm thoroughly enjoying my food. My in-laws are most gracious to share their culinary skills with us, so I'm not complaining. It's delightful to be with them AND they minded the kids yesterday so I could get a mammogram and flu shot without hiring a sitter or begging a favor off a friend, which was delightful. Did I really just say a mammogram and a flu shot was delightful? I did. Is that sad? Don't answer that.

Anyone else have anti-bloating tips?? I'm all ears. Pull up a chair for cup of weed tea.

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