NO one likes a flabby belly, but apart from it just being unsexy, having one increases your risk of a host of health problems if you are a woman whose girth goes above 36 inches.
"The fat that is inside is not just there for pretty looks, it's putting some pressure on the pancreas, so one would have to be careful," explained nutritionist Donovan Grant.
If you fall into this category of women and are just about tired of your jiggly pouch, just wishing for flat abs will do nothing to get you closer to this dream. It will take some amount of monitoring of your current diet and a commitment to being more physically active on your part.
Here are 9 foods that are more than likely keeping you away from having that well-toned torso you have been longing for.
1. Refined sweeteners and sugar. Refined sugar helps to raise the insulin level in the body which promotes the storage of fat. It also affects the immune system and makes it harder to fight off germs and diseases. "Sugar, for the most part, has the potential to make you fat and if it makes you fat, then it will make you fat all over," Grant said.
2. Sodas and other carbonated drinks. It's pretty hard to avoid fizzy drinks because they are oftentimes the choice of beverage at parties and other social gatherings. However, you could be doing yourself some amount of disservice by having too many bottles of soda since they add a lot of calories and have very little nutritional value. Drink water, unsweetened fruit juices, or coconut water instead.
3. Fried foods. Deep fried chicken and French fries taste good, but they will not do your stomach any justice. Fast food, for example, is usually greasy and has very little vitamins and minerals or fibre. Instead, it is loaded with sodium and trans fat which manifests itself in your stomach. If you must have fast food, choose more healthy options from the menu.
4. Pastries. They look good and taste good too, especially when they are sprinkled with sugar. But cakes, donuts and other pastries must only be eaten in moderation, if you know you are incapable of refusing them completely. Instead of having these for dessert, substitute them for healthier treats like frozen fruits and low-fat yogurt.
5. White flour and rice. Try to cut back on the white carbs if you are truly determined to see your beer belly vanish. Trade your white bread, flour, rice, and pasta for whole grain products such as brown bread and rice. White carbs have already been processed and are therefore digested rapidly by the body to be stored as fat.
6. Dairy products. Milk and cheese are loaded with calcium, but if you are concerned about the lump of fat covering your abdomen, it would help if you chose low fat versions of dairy products. That's because in spite of their health benefits, some dairy products have a lot of saturated fat.
7. Alcohol. Beer, wine, hard liquor, it doesn't matter which you choose, they all amount to excess calories in your body which go straight to your belly. In addition to slowing down the body's ability to burn fat, alcohol also speeds up the ageing process. "Because alcohol carries calories, and empty calories at that, it has no real benefit as such to the dieter in terms of helping you to lose weight," said nutritionist Patricia Fletcher.
8. Foods with high sodium content. High consumption of salts will cause your body to retain more water so that you look bloated. One way to have a more sleek look would therefore be to minimise your consumption of foods that have too much sodium.
9. Cereals. Cereals are not necessarily bad for you, but some people usually double the serving size which means more is eaten than the box actually recommends. So if you find that your pants are getting a bit snug in the mornings, you might want to try weighing your cereal with a measuring cup before you start to gulp it down. Also choose low-fat milk, and avoid the temptation to add sugar.