1. Perfect your posture
Straighten up and your figure looks better right away, advises American trainer Kim Lyons, who works on the US show of The Biggest Loser. ‘When your posture is good, you’re automatically engaging and toning your stomach muscles,’ she says. If you need to remind yourself to stand tall, a few strategically-placed sticky notes should do the trick.
2. Drink up
Keep those fluids coming! ‘Being dehydrated causes the body to hoard water,’ Lyon says, leading you to carry up to two excess kilograms around your midsection. Aim for at least eight cups of water or other fluids daily.
3. Eat more H20
Yep, you read that right. High-water foods like fruit and veggies will fill you up faster, says Jaclyn London, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute in America. Start your meal with soup, salad or healthy pre-dinner snack. A great choice is sliced peppers with a spicy hummus. The combination of the peppers and the chickpeas’ soluble fibre can help curb cravings.
4. Reach for the almonds
Research has linked snacking on nuts with having a lower waist circumference. Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, making them a more satisfying pick than pretzels. Make sure you stick to the unsalted versions to stave off sodium-induced puff, and keep in mind one serving is about a small handful.
5. Brew some coffee
Caffeinated coffee is a natural (mild) diuretic, which helps you de-puff by eliminating excess water in the body. Caffeine’s stimulating effects also keep things moving in your gut, London says. The regular bowel movements help with a flatter belly.
6. Power up your breakfast
Add low-fat milk to your morning cereal and you may have a belly-busting win. Diets high in calcium-containing foods have been linked with healthier body weight. Plus, the minerals found in dairy products — calcium, potassium and magnesium — can help to counterbalance bloat-inducing sodium.
7. Have a seat
‘Most women don’t want to talk about it, but you really have to set aside a specific time each day to use the bathroom,’ notes Dr. Judith Reichman, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of California in the city of Los Angeles. ‘If you don’t, it’s too easy to give into feeling rushed, and ignore the urge to go.’
Once you’ve trained your brain to dismiss your body’s signals, you set the stage for bloat-inducing constipation.
8. Eat mindfully
Rather than scarfing down meals, make a point of chewing each bite at least 10 times before swallowing. ‘The body has to work overtime to break down food in the stomach and intestines,’ Dr. Reichman says. Plus, when you eat fast, you’re more prone to swallowing air, which can increase your risk of developing a potbelly.
9. Turn to the “pro’s”
‘Probiotics are good bacteria that help your digestive system break down food, preventing the gastrointestinal issues that can keep you from having a flat stomach,’ explains nutritionist Jonny Browden, author of the book Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth. To ensure your plumbing is working at optimum capacity, Bowden suggests eating a daily serving of a probiotic-rich food such as yoghurt, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut or buttermilk.
10. Walk it off
Try to squeeze in a 30-minute walk daily, Lyons says. The simple boost in metabolism will help you burn waistline fat more efficiently. And if you want to work out, skip those gadgets that promise ‘miraculous abs in minutes’. A study from the Kansas State University in America found that most devices designed to target abs don’t live up to their promises. You’ll see better results with traditional exercise.
11. Give up gum
Because chewing forces you to swallow more puff-producing air, it can also keep you from squeezing into your skinny jeans, explain researchers at the American College of Gastroenterology. If you need to freshen your breath, you’re better off sucking on a mint.
12. Relax already
‘When you’re frazzled, your body increases its production of steroids and stress hormones, which negatively affect your digestive system, causing major constipation,’ says Dr. Reichman. And as if that weren’t enough to leave you looking pouchy, stress also amps up the production of cortisol, the ‘fight or flight’ hormone that sends excess fat directly to your midsection in its attempt to protect your vital organs. To minimise tension, Dr. Reichman advises taking 20 minutes a day to relax.