Foods That Shrink Your Muffin Top

Foods That Shrink Your Muffin Top

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When trying to trim down, it’s easy to focus on all of the foods you can’t eat. The good news? There are tons of tasty foods you can add to your plate that help fend off unhealthy cravings and decrease belly fat, taking your dreaded muffin top down a notch.

MORE: What’s Causing Your Sugar Cravings?

Along with eating belly-busting foods, it also helps to step away from the salt shaker and get your stress levels under control, which can sabotage your efforts to eat healthfully. “High levels of sodium cause excess fluid retention, which is when your body holds on to too much liquid, making you look puffy all over,” says Keri Glassman, R.D., author of “The New You and Improved Diet: 8 Rules to Lose Weight and Change Your Life Forever”. “Even if you’re eating healthy, you may still be getting added salt from foods you wouldn’t think of, like cottage cheese and olives.”

So always check labels for sodium content. And check in with yourself. “Paying attention to stress is critical to overall health, including a flat belly,” says Glassman. “The more stress you have, the less able you are to make empowered food choices and the more cortisol you have raging through your system. Cortisol causes food cravings. Studies have shown that overweight people gain even more weight with more stress.”Feeling tense? Glassman recommends this quick and simple stress-buster: Take an eight-count breath—inhale for eight counts and exhale for eight counts. Repeat for eight minutes.

MORE: How Stress Boosts Belly Fat

Now that we’re all zen, try adding these slimming eats to your diet:

Avocado. The fruit is rich in glutathione, a substance that helps block intestinal absorption of certain fats, according Glassman. “Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce belly fat, and fiber, leaving you feeling satiated,” she says. Just practice portion control and stick to ¼ avocado.

Nuts. These protein-packed morsels are rich in monounsaturated fats, which help reduce belly fat, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids, which have also been shown to reduce fat. Try munching on a small handful of nuts daily instead of reaching for a bag of chips—same satisfying crunch factor, less guilt.

Green tea. “Green tea is rich in antioxidants called catechins, which may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and decrease body fat,” says Glassman.

MORE: Drinks That Reduce Your Appetite

Yogurt. It’s a great snack option and a must for people trying to lose weight, according to Glassman. “Research has shown that people who consume plenty of low-fat dairy products are able to lose more weight than those who don’t,” she notes.

Berries. All berries, including strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to help combat stress, according to Glassman.

Water. Drinking eight glasses of water a day will prevent you from becoming parched—and help keep you from reaching for food you don’t actually need. “People often think they’re hungry when they’re just dehydrated,” says Glassman. “Water can also help you fill up before a meal. A study confirmed that having two glasses of water before eating increases satiety and cuts the calories consumed.”

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Rachel Grumman Bender
Rachel Grumman Bender is an award-winning freelance health and beauty writer and editor. She writes regularly for The New York Times and has written for Women's Health, Yahoo Health, Everyday Health, the New York Post, Cosmopolitan, and many more publications. Rachel has held Health Editor positions at YouBeauty.com and Cosmopolitan magazine. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at Boston University and her master’s degree in journalism at New York University. She lives in northern California with her husband and her twins.