9 Foods to Avoid If You Want a Flatter Stomach

Entering into warmer months means a few things, namely that more revealing clothing (read: swimsuits) will now be donned in place of boots and scarves. To get a head start on bikini season, make an effort to avoid these foods that tend to be top culprits when it comes to bloating and expanding our stomachs at the worst possible times. You might have heard of some, but others will flat out surprise you.

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Kale and Broccoli

“Beans, legumes, kale, broccoli, and cabbage contain fiber and sugars that our bodies cannot absorb and eventually ferment, which causes bloating,” celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson says, adding that we shouldn’t be so quick to shun these health foods just yet. Steaming these types of veggies can also help to soften the fiber, making them easier to digest. “Your body will eventually get used to them and its best to increase your intake gradually.”


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Soda

While the “diet” and “zero calorie” promises plastered on the sides of soda cans may seem like the drink can do no harm when compared to their regular counterparts, you may need to think twice before reaching for that Diet Coke. Simpson explains that the fizz found in in carbonated drinks—yes, even your go-to sparkling water—create excess air in the belly causing bloating. To curb this, try infusing water with natural fruits for delicious flavor sans any stomach swelling. 


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Refined Grains

According to women's health and nutrition expert Nicole Granato, removing refined grains and eating whole grains is one of your best tickets to reducing belly fat, fighting inflammation and preventing heart disease. “Studies show that eating a whole grain diet can greatly reduce belly fat,” she says, explaining that feeding your body with whole foods is essential to preventing snacking and bouts of hunger. “Whole grains include brown rice, quinoa, black rice, whole wheat toast and barley.”


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Bread and Pasta

Refined sugars and carbohydrates, including breads, pastas, potatoes and rice, are common causes of bloating. “These foods break down into sugar quickly, and sugar, when worked on by acids, ferments and creates a bloating effect,” says Simpson.


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Sugar-Free Foods

While you may think that opting for sugar-free options is doing your body good by curbing tons of calories in every serving, it turns out the ingredients found in these formulas may be having an adverse effect. “Artificial sugar alcohols commonly found in these options are not efficiently digested by the body and can have a bloating effect,” Simpson explains. Look out for these in salad dressings, yogurts, baking mixes and drinks. 


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Salt

When you’re looking to flatten your stomach fast, make sure your diet is low in salt and high in fiber, which Simpson explains is the key to staying full and keeping your belly flat. “Highly processed foods tend to be high in sodium and low in fiber, both of which can contribute to that bloated feeling.”


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Gum

Similar to how carbonated beverages create excess air in the stomach, the chewing action performed over and over when a piece of gum is in your mouth produces air in the belly, too causing bloating. Instead, try chewing on mint leaves to freshen up your breath naturally. Or, if you’re in a rush, opt for mints instead of gum in the checkout aisle next time. 


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Alcohol

While studies have shown that one glass of red wine a night can help reduce your risk of some diseases, alcohol boasts a very high calorie content and little nutritional benefit that can seriously backfire when drank in large quantities. In fact, one study showed that over the course of 30 days, participants who has more than one drink in a sitting (even just once a week!) has more belly fat than those who drank small amounts more regularly. Translation: One drink per sitting is all you need, especially if you’re looking to flatten your stomach.  


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