IF you've gained some extra weight over Christmas, it might be your New Year's resolution to slim down this year. However, if fat has settled around your middle, you might find yourself struggling to shift it.
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As well as making your clothing feel more uncomfortable, belly fat can be bad for your health, as stomach fat is linked with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
To help get you back on track, The Healthy Mummy founder, Rhian Allen, has shared with FEMAIL her top nine foods to ditch that will see you slim down in no time at all.
1. Do away with dairy
There's some debate as to whether ditching dairy completely will assist in weight loss. Dairy contains calcium which is a critical factor in controlling what your body does with calories.
However, as Rhian explained, those who are lactose intolerant - whether this is mild or severe - may experience gas or bloating as a symptom.
'If you are feeling bloated, try limiting the amount of milk, cheese, yoghurt, and ice cream you eat and see if that helps,' she said on her blog.
'If it does, you don't have to ditch dairy altogether. Drink lactose-free milk, or take Lactaid pills to help your body digest milk products.'
2. Pass on the potato chips
If you're enjoying a few drinks with friends, it can be all too easy to reach for a handful of chips.
However, it's worth remembering this treat often comes laden with fat.
This is because chips are cooked in a type of oil called a trans-fat. Trans-fat is known to increase cholesterol, contribute to heart disease and increase weight.
While there are chips that don't contain hydrogenated oil, they may still be laden with high amounts of fat from other oils they are fried in.
If you can't do away with chips, Rhian recommends brands which are baked or to look for low-fat varieties, however, she said it pays to be aware of the calorie count.
3. Say sayonara to soft drinks
It's common knowledge that sugar-fuelled soft drinks are bad for you.
Soft drinks are full of empty calories because they are loaded with sugar in the form of fructose and other additives.
And while it might make sense to switch to diet varieties, these can come packed with artificial sweeteners and can have adverse effects on your health.
'It's best to drink pure water to lose your belly fat,' Rhian said.
4. Cut out all processed baked goods
There's nothing more convenient (or tasty) than shopping the aisles of your supermarket for a convenient baked treat.
But Rhian cautions biscuits, doughnuts and other pre-baked desserts can be chock full of calories as well as being high in sugar and packed with preservatives.
'Sugar increases inflammation, which is not only bad for you but can also make you look puffy and bloated,' she said.
Rhian suggests reaching for a piece of fresh fruit as an easy way to satiate that craving for sweetness.
5. Give fried foods the flick
While its cheap and easy to grab fast food you're on the run, it is usually greasy and has very little in terms of minerals, vitamins or fibre.
Instead, it is loaded with sodium and trans-fat which manifests itself in your stomach.
Rhian advises if you're craving fast food, choose more healthy options from the menu.
6. Margarine isn't the best spread for weight loss
According to the Mayo Clinic, margarine usually tops butter when it comes to heart health.
A good variety will be made from vegetable oil, however, there are some, generally stick kinds of margarine, which are made using trans-fats.
'Margarine can be found in plenty of pastries, crackers, snack foods, and even microwave popcorn, so limit intake to keep cholesterol levels in check,' Rhian said.
Her suggestion is to choose a small amount of regular butter or soft spread over margarine when topping foods or baking.
7. White flour, rice and pasta
Rhian said if you really want to banish belly fat, cut back on white, processed carbs including pasta, white bread, products made from white flour and white rice.
'White carbs have already been processed and are therefore digested rapidly by the body to be stored as fat.'
Instead, choose slow release carbs. These include quinoa, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, legumes, dairy and starchy vegetables like sweet potato.
These are processed by the body at a slower rate and don't cause a quick energy spike.
8. Check the size of your cereal bowl
Cereals are not necessarily bad for you, the dieting expert notes, but if you're doubling the serving size chances are you'll be gaining weight.
'You might want to try weighing your cereal with a measuring cup before you start to gulp it down.'
Rhian recommends choosing a nut milk like almond milk, and avoid the temptation to add sugar.
9. Refined sweeteners and sugar
Refined sugar wreaks havoc on the production of insulin by spiking levels and then causing them to plummet a short time later.
Insulin is a hormone that promotes fat storage and inhibits your ability to burn fat. Keeping insulin levels low, will allow the body to burn fat properly.
'Sugar can also affect the immune system and makes it harder to fight off germs and diseases,' Rhian said.