Nowadays, everyone wants to look good and feel good. What you put into your body can effect you physically which can put a strain on you mentally. For many the objective is to have a flatter belly and for others living a healthier lifestyle is their goal.

“Diet plays an important role in metabolism, fat storage, and fat breakdown,” says Holly Klamer, MS, RDN with My Crohn’s and Colitis Team. “So, it’s an important piece of weight loss and trying to get a flat belly.”

Stress, hormones and genetics also play a factor in your physical appearance.

Liz Weinandy, RD at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center says, “I would caution people to not get caught up in having a flat stomach as much as thinking about a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a healthy eating pattern. Some people are genetically predisposed to having more abdominal fat and for women who have gone through menopause, abdominal weight gain is more likely.”

To achieve the goals you desire try these habits when it comes to your daily diet.

Make sure you are eating enough fiber! Fiber helps the food along the process of digestion. It also helps you feel more full and lessens the chance for constipation and bloating. Chickpeas, black beans and lentils are abundant in fiber.

Stay away from artificial sweeteners. While some believe sugar-free options are better for you the artificial sweeteners could be your downfall when it comes to trying to have a flatter stomach. Susan Bowerman, dietitian MS, RD & Senior Director of Woldwide Nutrition Education and Training for Herbalife Nutrition, explains “They aren’t broken down in the digestive tract and can cause bloating in some people.” She also says to limit sugar alcohols like xylitol and sorbitol.

Make sure you do not skip breakfast. Oatmeal is a great choice since it is a nutrient packed meal. It has been proven to help you feel full even in between meals and if you toss in some berries and nuts you can increase the benefits.

Get in your daily amount of water! Help keep that fiber moving throughout your system by staying hydrated. Switch out the juice or soda you would normally drink. You will end up not consuming as many calories and be closer to reaching that goal of a flat tummy.

Replace those refined carbs for whole grains. Trade out that white bread and pasta for whole grains like oats, quinoa and whole-wheat bread. According to registered dietician, MS, RD, Kristin Gillespie this “…can help keep that waistline in check.”

Try not to eat too fast. Shoveling in your meal can actually lead to you overeating and gulping down air. This can create bloating as well. Give your brain time to signal your stomach that it is time to stop eating by slowing down. Bowerman says you should give yourself about 20 minutes to eat your meal.

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