Flatten your Tummy with Food!

By Dr. Joey Shulman D.C., RNCP

A flatter tummy. A six pack. Abs of steel. Do you think these phrases only apply to the perfect looking model you just saw on the latest infomercial? If so, you will be happy to find out that with proper dietary steps and exercise, a flatter and leaner tummy can be yours in no time.

Step 1: Skip the white!
Although many weight loss seekers shed a considerable amount of weight, they are often dismayed by the lower belly bulge that never seems to go away. There are several causes for this bulge, such as food sensitivities, water retention and lack of stomach musculature. However, one of the most common reasons for the bulge is what I refer to as “carbohydrate belly”. In today’s processed world, filled with refined grains in the form of cookies, cakes, muffins, cereals, bread and pasta, it is easy to consume too many unhealthy high glycemic index carbohydrates. Higher glycemic index food items, such as white flours, will eventually over stimulate the body’s insulin response, resulting in storage of fat and weight gain.

Although certain outdated health pyramids recommend 6 to 11 servings of grain products, these recommendations are far too high and do not differentiate between good and bad carbohydrates. To avoid excess weight gain most of your carbohydrates should be derived from low glycemic index carbohydrates such as vegetables, beans, most fruits and whole grains. Try stocking your cupboards with healthier, high fiber and higher protein breads and pastas such as kamut, spelt, multigrain and flax bread.

It is important to remember that carbohydrates are not the enemy. The enemy is refined carbohydrates such as white floury product. In fact, carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient that provides the brain, muscles and liver with energy called glucose, which is needed for all systems in the body to run smoothly. To learn more about eating in a proper ratio, visit the 40:30:30 Method of Eating.

Step 2: Know your biochemistry
Everyone’s biochemistry differs slightly in terms of digestion, absorption and excretion. For example, person A may be able to eat wheat over and over again with no symptoms, while person B may experience bloating, fatigue or constipation. Although symptoms may be quite subtle at first, it is important to pay attention to them, as they are the body’s way of communicating potential problems.

While there is no question that food plays a major role in many cultures, festivities and celebrations, its fundamental purpose is to provide the body with adequate nourishment and energy. Symptoms associated with eating are not normal and should be investigated.

As a rule of thumb, if you have eaten a food and it creates a bloating feeling in your lower belly you have either:

  • Eaten the wrong food for your body, or
  • Eaten too much food.

Bloating is commonly experienced after a meal of too many refined wheat products; eating high fiber foods that are lower on the glycemic index can help. Drinking room temperature water with fresh squeezed lemon two or three times per day can also help lessen feelings of fullness and bloating.

Step 3: Follow an ab-blaster workout!
Often, people who have lost weight or are in the process of losing weight have excess skin folds in the abdominal region. It is critical to include a hearty abdominal workout as part of your regular exercise routine.

Step 4 : Avoid gas-producing foods
Certain foods produce more gas than others and can create a bloated, swollen feeling in your belly. If, after following the three steps above, you still feel bloated and have a difficult time achieving a flatter tummy, eliminate the following gas-forming foods from your diet one at a time to determine the culprits:

  • Wheat
  • Dairy
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Peppers
  • Sauerkraut
  • Spinach
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Beer
  • Caffeine
  • Popcorn
  • Carbonated beverages

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