We all know the feeling – that clingy dress that looked HAWT in the shop all of a sudden makes you feel like a hippo when you put it on before heading out. You know you haven't gained any weight – so what's the problem?

Stomach bloating and gas are common issues for many Irish women. Not only do they make your stomach appear larger, but they can cause pain and discomfort too.

Luckily though, there are a few simple ways to reduce bloating – and even to avoid it altogether.

1. Cut back on sugar substitutes and high-salt foods
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame found in sweets, sugar-free soft drinks and other processed foods are not naturally digestible and can trigger bloating instantly. High-sodium foods such as canned soups, frozen dinners and bottled salad dressings are other triggers – they can be much higher in salt than you realise, causing water retention. Avoid these to keep that tummy flat.

2. Eat slowly
Inhaling a sandwich during a 5-minute dash back to the office is not going to aid your digestive system. When we chew and swallow fast, we inhale a lot of gas-producing air. Eat slowly, with your mouth closed (your mammy would be proud), and sip your drink rather than gulping it down or using a straw.

3. Get out and about
Going for a stroll after dinner, even just a brisk 10-minute one, can help gassy air pass through the digestive tract more quickly, stopping bloating before it has even begun. On days when you're feeling sluggish and out of sorts, one of the worst things you can do is to skip your workout – if you don't fancy that Abs Blast class, go for a cycle, a jog or a walk instead.

4. Keep breathing
Digestive problems are a natural response to anxiety and nervousness, as our stress hormones speed up every bodily process. Gas, diarrhoea and bloating are all more likely in times of high stress. Keep breathing and go for a walk to ease those nerves.

5. Manage your dairy intake
More than 10% of adults are believed to be lactose intolerant, so it's more likely than you might think. However even if you do have an intolerance to dairy, your body can still handle it in small amounts without feeling bloated or tired. If you suspect your dairy intake may be causing digestive problems, try to break up your intake throughout the day – rather than having a milky coffee with your morning yoghurt or a bar of chocolate with your lunchtime cheese toastie, spread things out across the day.