Getting a flatter tummy may seem impossible, but these expert tips may just hold the key to unlocking why you can’t seem to lose that muffin top.
Diet dilemma – skipping meals
It’s not uncommon to suddenly put on weight from age 40, especially around the tummy. Some of us try to combat this by skipping meals or surviving on just one meal a day for weeks to try and lose weight fast. The result is often over eating at night and snacking on biscuits and sweets after dinner.
Expert solution – “If you survive on next to nothing until the evening, you are more likely to make bad choices and overeat, says nutritional therapist, Lisa Blair.
“This way of eating also leaves you vulnerable to emotional eating because it causes low blood sugar, which brings about a low mood and sugar cravings.
“The key to beating this is eating three meals a day with regular snacks, so that hunger never gets out of hand.
“Ensure all carbohydrates are wholewheat, as they slowly release sugar into the blood and fill you up more. Also include protein with each meal to increase that feeling of fullness, and eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.”
Diet dilemma – comfort eating
Tragic events such as the loss of a parent or family member, or general stress and anxiety (from everyday problems) can often trigger a cycle of comfort eating which can cause the numbers on the scale to creep up slowly but steadily over the years.
Also women tend to carry most of their weight around the tummy and thighs which can leave you feeling puffy and lethargic. However, if you’re always left feeling bloated and uncomfortable after a meal, it could be linked to a food intolerance.
Expert solution – Besides eating foods high in fat and sugar, in some cases, food intolerances can lead to puffiness and weight gain, says nutritionist, Karen Milton. People with food intolerances will tend to feel bloated, especially around the tummy and face, because food intolerances make your body cling on to fluid.
Your tummy may feel particularly painful and hard after eating a certain food. If you do think you have an intolerance, then you could use a food diary to note down what you eat and when any troubling symptoms occur. That way, you can identify which food is causing the problem.
Then try eliminating that food for 30 days. Or visit your GP and request a food test to determine whether you have an allergy. There are also food tests available to buy over the internet.
Diet dilemma – Feeling bloated after eating
Sometimes tummy fat isn’t always to blame for a wider midriff. Bigger health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause a host of problems such as bloating, constipation and even diarrhea.
Expert solution – “How you treat IBS depends on your symptoms, says Lisa Blair. “I have many clients who have sworn by the benefits of aloe vera juice to tackle bloating. However, it’s generally not the best option if you have diarrhoea too, as it can have a laxative effect. It is also a good idea to address your diet.
“Often, bloating can respond well to cutting back on sugar and white refined foods, such as bread or white pasta. Probiotics – the good quality type found in the fridge counters of health food shops – are also very helpful.”
If none of these are your problem, here’s 8 more tips to achieve a flatter tummy in no time:
Take time to eat: If you rush your food, you’ll swallow air at the same time, which can lead to bloating.
Remember your posture: Keep your tummy sucked in – like you do on holiday when you’re walking around in your swimwear – to help give the illusion of a flatter stomach.
Keep food colourful: Food that looks (and smells) appetising will stimulate the gastric juices, help you digest your food and reduce bloating.
Chew properly: Studies show this reduces the amount of food you eat. You’ll also produce more gastric juices, so your food will be digested better.
Keep regular: Constipation can make your tummy look bigger, so choose wholewheat bread or rice, eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and ensure you drink enough fluid.
Limit salt: Have no more than 6g of salt a day, as an excess will encourage the body to retain water.
Avoid sweeteners: Sugar-free or low-sugar foods are often full of sweeteners, which can cause bloating. Instead, choose savoury snacks or try eating berries for a sweet pick-me-up.
Ban fizzy drinks: They – along with chewing gum – will make your stomach swell and look bigger than it is.
DISCLAIMER: Before starting any diet, you should speak to your doctor. You must not rely on the information on this website/newsletter as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.