Even if you’re not the most avid internet user, you’ll be familiar with those irritating pop-up ads urging you to eat certain foods if you want a flat stomach.

Of course, most of us would quite like the idea of a taut tummy, but the question is: Can eating different foods help you achieve this?


Unfortunately, says nutritionist Sarah Flower, the short answer is no.

While there might not be any magically belly-slimming foods, there are some steps you can take to help you achieve a flatter tummy. Remember, everyone’s body is different, so some things might not work for you, but hopefully you’ll find some of these tips helpful…

1. Take probiotics

Homemade natural yogurt with blueberries fruits on a wooden table
Probiotics are naturally found in yogurt (Thinkstock/PA)

Probiotics are live bacteria that can deliver a range of health benefits, particularly to your digestive system.

Sarah says: “A gut full of unhealthy bacteria increases our tendency to bloat. This is why probiotics are recommended to help achieve a flatter stomach, but really, it is the overall health benefits that should have you reaching for a good quality probiotic and increasing your pre and probiotic foods.”

Not only will probiotics help tackle bloating, they can help support your immune system and possibly be beneficial for fighting eczema.

Probiotics supplements are available in drink or tablet forms, and they’re also found in fermented foods such as natural yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, kefir and tempeh.

Sarah recommends a hydrating and alkalising diet to help populate the bowel with friendly bacteria, which probiotics can then enhance.

What is kefir and how to make kefir at home – the probiotic fermented super drink

2. Cut back on wheat and grains for a while

Seeded bread roll selection with wheat sheaths, rye grain in a hessian sack with chia, sunflower and caraway seed on an olive wood board.
Reducing wheat and grains might help with bloating (Thinkstock/PA)

There’s no sense in cutting wheat and grains from your diet if you have no intolerance or sensitivities. However, you might want to try avoiding them for a while if you’re suffering with bloating, to see if that helps.

Sarah says: “Gluten can be problematic for many, not just those with coeliac disease (where gluten damages the intestinal walls and causes problems with absorption and more). If gluten proteins aren’t fully broken down it can damage tissue throughout the body, even crossing the blood/brain barrier to cause disruption there.”

Gluten can inflame the bowels, colons or intestines of those who are sensitive. Sarah says: “We are not sure why we are seeing an increase in wheat and grain sensitivity. It could be the type of grains we are using, the agrochemicals used or even a weakness in our gut due to our dietary habits. Whatever the reason, digestive issues, especially bloating, can often be eased by avoiding wheat.”

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3. Try a low-carb diet

Hand taking slice of pizza with different toppings on a wooden background.
Too many carbs might trigger bloating for some (Thinkstock/PA)

Now, carbs are not automatically the enemy (in fact, you need carbs as part of a balanced diet). But modern diets have become rich in carbohydrates, thanks largely to food manufacturers taking away fat and replacing it with carbs and, therefore, sugars. Sarah says our current diet is now more than 70% carbohydrate, which could be contributing to an inability to achieve a flat stomach.

There is science behind this: eating too many carbohydrates stimulates insulin, which helps store fat, while surplus calories are stored in your fat cells as triglycerides. As such, a diet too high in carbs could result in your stomach storing more fat. There’s no need to completely cut out carbohydrates – your body still needs them – but maybe you can reduce the percentage in your diet.

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4. Get more sleep

Getting plenty of sleep is always a good idea
Getting plenty of sleep is always a good idea (Thinkstock/PA)

A diet high in carbohydrates can imbalance your hormones, leading to weight gain and an increase in belly fat.

Sarah says: “It is also worth mentioning lack of sleep can cause havoc with all our hormones and adrenal function.”

This is a more general point and not just about targeting belly fat, but ensuring you get a good night’s sleep can help balance your hormones and blood sugars. As such, it has the potential to help you slim down.

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