They say “abs are made in the kitchen,” but that could be true for a flat belly, too. Experts tell us that what we eat and drink can have a major impact on the appearance of your stomach. “Diet plays an important role in metabolism, fat storage and fat breakdown,” explains registered dietitian Holly Klamer. And if it’s a flatter midsection you’re after, these eating habits can help you reach that goal.
- Eat enough fiber – Think of it as your BFF for flattening your belly. Fiber keeps things moving, which means less constipation and bloating, but it also makes you feel more full so you eat fewer calories. Things like chickpeas, black beans and lentils, are great sources of fiber.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners – Some think sugar-free foods are a healthier option, but the artificial sweeteners in them may sabotage your efforts to flatten your stomach. “They aren’t broken down in the digestive tract and can cause bloating in some people,” explains registered dietitian Susan Bowerman. She specifically advises limiting sugar alcohols, like xylitol and sorbitol.
- Don’t skip breakfast – Starting the day with a nutrient-dense meal like oatmeal is key for a flatter tummy. It’s been scientifically proven to help you feel full between meals and if you throw in some berries and nuts, even better.
- Drink plenty of water – You need a lot of water to keep that fiber moving and if you trade your juice or soda for water, you’ll save on calories and be that much closer to a flatter belly.
- Go for whole grains – Replacing refined carbs, like white bread and pasta, for whole grains, including oats, quinoa and whole-wheat bread, “can help keep that waistline in check,” according to registered dietitian Kristin Gillespie.
- Eating too fast – When you’re hangry, it’s easy to scarf down a meal in a flash, but your belly may pay the price. Eating fast may lead to overeating and gulping down a lot of air, which can contribute to bloating. Bowerman says we should try to spend about 20 minutes eating a meal, which gives the stomach time to signal to the brain that it’s full.