Who doesn’t want a flat stomach when it’s time to put on a bathing suit. But the things we do thinking they’ll help our mid-section, often have the opposite effect. So here’s what not to do if you want a flat stomach:

  • Don’t become an overnight salad and vegetable fiend. Of course, vegetables are healthy and have tons of fiber, and in the long-run they’ll reduce belly fat. But veggies aren’t the easiest thing to digest, and if you eat 3 times as many as usual, you’ll end up bloated. So if you don’t already eat a lot of produce, work your way up. Start with 15 grams of fiber a day, which is like a side of vegetables at lunch and dinner, and work your way up to 35 grams. And if you get gassy and bloated, fill a tea ball with fennel seeds and steep it. A single mug can get rid of gas almost immediately.

  • Another flat stomach move that backfires? Throwing back diet sodas. Just because it’s calorie free doesn’t mean it won’t cause bloat from all those bubbles. Plus, there’s evidence that diet soda makes us store more fat, particularly in our stomach.  Instead drink plain water spiked with lemon or cucumber. Both act as natural diuretics. 

  • Finally, if you want a flat belly for swimsuit season, skip the simple carbohydrates. Crackers and baked chips don’t have a lot of fat, but they can still lead us to store fat around the belly. That’s because they’re loaded with simple sugars that the body digests quickly. That causes an insulin spike, which is linked to excess abdominal fat. Instead, choose unprocessed foods, like carrot sticks dipped in hummus. You’ll get healthy fat, and no energy spike and crash that leads to belly fat.