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With the long weekend on the horizon and temperatures holding steadily at sweltering, the likelihood that you’ll want to wear more than a bathing suit in the coming days is slim to none. Luckily, ensuring the utmost body confidence in figure-hugging fabric could be as simple as reorganizing when you eat what. According to Manhattan-based integrative nutritionist Daphne Javitch, the sequence in which you put types of food into your body affects the speed and ease with which you digest them. “The idea here is to maintain flow in the body,” says Javitch, who notes that one easily implemented way to avoid a bloated belly, post-meal food coma, and general physical discomfort is to eat a salad before the rest of your meal.
“The idea is to eat from light to heavy,” explains Javitch. “Salad wants to move through the body faster than denser food.” Putting raw, water-packed vegetables into your body first helps to lubricate your digestive path, and acts as “an enzymatic spark,” she says, one that makes it easier to later move heavier food through the body. This is integral to reducing congestion, gas, and pressure—which can build up when raw veggies follow, say, a slow-moving sandwich. (In that case, they’ll stay in your system longer than they need to, undergoing decomposition and fermentation before leaving the stomach.)
For those averse to lettuce, even noshing on hydrating vegetables like carrots, celery, or bell peppers before you dig into standard barbecue fare will be enough to aid in healthy digestion. And if a handful of cucumber slices before your lobster rolls means more energy, less puff, and overall physical comfort, what have you got to lose?