You don’t need a perfect body to wear a bikini. All you need is a well-fitted suit and body confidence. Don’t believe this? Check out Mindy Kaling’s Instagram account
, and skip photos of the Kardashians. Next to two photos of Kaling looking fabulous in two different two pieces, she writes, “WEAR A BIKINI IF YOU WANT TO WEAR A BIKINI. You don’t have to be a size 0.”
But what will others think if you wear a bikini and don’t have six-pack abs? Answer: no one cares. If you’re concerned about what others think about your figure, don’t be. Most people are so worried about how they look in a bathing suit, they won’t be focusing on you.
However, it doesn’t hurt to boost your confidence by exercising regularly, eating healthily, and following these tips on how to flatten your belly.
How to Flatten Your Belly
One of the easiest ways to make your stomach look flatter is to get rid of excess water and gas, which can cause bloat. “Bloating is really common,” says Kelly Dwyer, a master nutrition therapist (MNT) and board certified holistic nutritionist (BCHN). “While there are some foods that cause bloating, it’s more about your own biology. It’s about foods that our bodies to react to.”
She suggests keeping a food journal for two weeks and taking note of food and beverages that leave you feeling puffy. In general, she says not chewing your food well enough or eating too fast can cause digestive issues and bloat – so try not to do that and be sure to sit up straight while you eat.
Foods to eat and beverages to drink
While everybody reacts to different foods differently, some foods are known bloat-reducers. For example, potassium-rich foods like bananas and potatoes can help balance high sodium levels and flush out water retention. Also, asparagus is a super bloat-reducer since it helps you flush out water from your system as well. Sure, your pee may smell, but your belly will be smaller.
While it might sound counterintuitive to eat fats if you want to lose fat, healthy fats such as avocadoes, olive oil, and wild salmon are excellent fat burners. “Having more healthy fat in your diet can help, metabolically, with weight loss and your belly,” says Dwyer.
As for beverages, peppermint and ginger teas
can calm your stomach down after a rich and filling meal by helping your digestion. Better digestion helps reduce bloat and gas and also prevents constipation
, which can lead to a distended belly.
Foods and beverages to skip
Sugars and processed carbohydrates, meaning carbohydrates made of flour, can cause inflammation. Inflammation can lead to weight gain, especially around the middle, says Dwyer.
As for bloating and gas, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale and cabbage are known culprits for most people. These healthy vegetables contain raffinose, a sugar that remains undigested in your gut until bacteria ferment it. But don’t give up on the green stuff altogether. Just eat smaller amounts. The same goes for beans and legumes when it comes to gas and bloating and eating small portions for the sake of reducing bloat.
Additionally, sparkling water, alcohol and carbonated drinks are also belly bloaters, of which you should steer clear. For some, coffee can irritate your GI tract, leading to bloating and stomach cramps. And lastly, reduce your sodium intake
. Salt and high sodium foods such as soy sauce and prepackaged foods attract and retain water, leaving you feeling and looking puffy.
negatively impacts your health in a variety of ways. One of those ways is that it increases cortisol levels in your brain, which is good when faced with a life-threatening situation because it helps you react quickly. But, when your stress is chronic because of, for example, lack of sleep or uncertainty, it can lead to extra fat in your abdomen.
Additionally, stress directly impacts digestion, says Dwyer. “If you reduce or manage stress, you can reduce bloating.”
Fix a pregnancy pooch
For those who’ve given birth, have you had a hard time getting back to your pregnancy figure – even if your kids are in college? Diastasis recti is a common postpartum condition. It occurs when a space separates the two muscles in your abdomen, and your belly sticks out because of this space. About two-thirds of pregnant women have it and those with more than one child have a higher chance of having it.
To self-diagnose, stick two fingers between your two central stomach muscles. If they can fit, you may have it. A physical therapist or a core-focused exercise routine can help persuade those two muscles to reunite, which can not only help flatten your stomach but also reduce back pain. It’s important to note that while diastasis recti are common in post-pregnant women, anyone, even men, can develop it.
On a final note, when it comes to flattening your belly, it’s never a bad idea to stand up straight and suck in your stomach. But don’t forget to breathe and enjoy the beach or pool.