Your parents weren’t kidding about how important veggies are for a healthy body. What they probably didn’t tell you, however, was that snacking on veggies is also one of the easiest ways to shed unwanted belly fat, too. According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, opting for non-starchy veggies, like cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumber, as snacks helped overweight kids shed 17 percent of their visceral fat while improving their insulin sensitivity over a five-year period. Think snacking on veggies will leave you hungry? The 20 Most Filling Fruits and Veggies will have your belly satisfied in no time.
Now, while there aren't foods that literally target burning belly fat, there ARE foods that can drive the production of certain hormones that can trigger our body to store more fat on our tummy. The two most infamous are cortisol and insulin. So, making sure to keep your processed sugar, refined flour, sodium content, and alcohol consumption low can go a long way toward helping you burn off the muffin top.
Thank you so much, Lauren! Staying healthy is SO hard when you’re trying to prioritize and balance out the rest of life’s demands, but it thrills me to hear that your boyfriend likes my quinoa recipes! I got really lucky when I was testing out ways to eat quinoa. It’s one of the few health foods my husband will eat! Good luck to you and your boyfriend – keep me updated! 🙂
ANYWAY, as far as the beginning of college goes, I thought a lot about nutrition and fitness and really wanted them to be incorporated into my life. For exercise, I joined the women’s ultimate frisbee team. I honestly joined because the team was a built in community of really amazing people who were great friends but even better accountability partners that kept me coming to practice and pushing myself while I was there. We had practice for 2 hours about 3 times a week, and I never exercised outside of those times. On the topic of nutrition, I never thought I ate that bad. However, college dining halls can wreck your body. Unlimited buffets with more unhealthy than healthy options was not in my favor. Of course I ate salads, chicken/fish, and veggies on a regular basis, but I also ate my fair share of french fries, frozen yogurt, cookies, and whatever desserts were available. So many weekly activities and meetings had free food, and late night study snacks were a regular occurrence.
As women age, weight creeps up too, with the average women gaining about one pound per year in their 40s and 50s, resulting in an added 10 to 15 pounds. The drop in estrogen levels during this time of perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) contributes to weight gain and can change the way you distribute fat. You may gain weight in your belly more readily than you did in younger years.
While many people turn to artificial sweeteners in a misguided attempt to whittle their waistlines, those fake sugars are likely to have the opposite effect. According to researchers at Yale, artificial sweeteners are actually linked with an increased risk of abdominal obesity and weight gain, possibly because they can trigger cravings for the real stuff and spike insulin levels in a similar fashion to real sugar.
If you're dehydrated, it can be hard to tell if you're hungry or just thirsty. If you're craving a mid-day snack, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes before reassessing how hungry you really are. Water also helps food move through your digestive system, lessening feelings of bloating. It's a good idea to keep a water bottle with you throughout the day. Add in cucumber slices or fresh fruit to infuse flavor.
Avoiding salt doesn’t mean your food has to be bland. Experiment with using different herbs and spices. Try adding fresh cilantro and cumin to grilled fish, lemon and rosemary to chicken, or ginger and Chinese five spice to tempeh or beef. Pick up some spice blends from your local market to help add more spice to your life… just read the ingredients and make sure there’s no salt added.
Mason, A. E., Epel, E. S., Aschbacher, K., Lustig, R. H., Acree, M., Kristeller, J., … Daubenmier, J. (2016, May 1). Reduced reward-driven eating accounts for the impact of a mindfulness-based diet and exercise intervention on weight loss: Data from the SHINE randomized controlled trial. Appetite , 100, 86–93. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4799744/
Lisa began Workout Mommy in 2007. Back then, she was a busy mom of two who found out that continuing her pre-motherhood commitment to health and fitness wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be. Now a single mother of four, she admits it’s even hard to find the time to commit to fitness. She writes her blog to inspire others to make that time, and holds herself accountable for finding it as well. Visit the blog.