1. Trail Mix
The Culprits: Salt and fructose
To the untrained eye, a bag of trail mix seems like a waist-friendly snack. It’s filled with satiating nuts and bits of fiber-filled fruit, so it’s got to be far better than chips and pretzels, right? Unfortunately, not so much. Like the chips and pretzels, most trail mixes are loaded with salt, a nutrient that attracts water like a magnet, causing water retention and bloat. And for those who have trouble absorbing fructose, the dried fruit in the mix only makes matters worse. Even if you don’t consider yourself sensitive to the natural sugar, it’s better to steer clear when you’re baring the navel.
Eat This! Instead: Unsalted nuts and fruits that banish bloat are both tasty, flat-belly alternatives.
2. Ice Cream
The Culprits: Lactose
The air is as hot as a griddle and your throat as dry as the dessert. Then, through the hot wavy air, you see it: an ice cream truck pulling into the parking lot. It’s possible to indulge in a scoop or two without blowing your diet, but if you really want your abs to pop, you may want to reconsider indulging in something creamy. Dairy lactose can cause bloating, gas and stomach discomfort even if you aren’t particularly intolerant of the sugar.
Eat This! Instead: Popsicle Pop Ups. They’re a ubiquitous summer staple that’s low in sugar (10 g) and calories (80-90).
3. Mixed Drinks
The Culprits: Fructose and artificial sweeteners
As the mercury rises, so does the availability of sugary drinks, making it all the more difficult to fight the urge to indulge. But if you want to look your best, just say no. If you indulge in something sugary like a pina colada, your body will produce a gas to aid its digestion. And ordering a “skinny” version of your favorite umbrella-topped drink is just as dangerous: To cut calories, these beverages are filled with hard-to-digest artificial sweeteners, which cause the belly to swell up like a pufferfish.
Eat This! Instead: If you’re craving something fruity in your cup, mix up a pitcher of detox water and bring it along to work.
4. Nutrition Bars
The Culprits: Oligosaccharides and artificial sweeteners
You’re throwing in a few nutrition bars in your bag before heading out the door. If you’re looking to slim down long-term, this is a smart move. But if you’re looking to keep your tummy tight, you won’t be a fan of what these snacks do to your bod. Most bars turn to gas-inducing soy isolate to amp up the protein count, and like other beans, soy contains oligosaccharides, sugar molecules the body struggles to break down. With nowhere to go, oligosaccharides hang out in your stomach, causing uncomfortable pressure and bloat.
Eat This! Instead: For lunch, enjoy some honeydew melon–a naturally diuretic fruit–and a bed of spinach salad topped with grilled chicken. The green superfood, while filling, is one of the few salad starters that doesn’t cause bloating.
5. Sparkling Beverages
The Culprits: Carbonation
Though you may love the fizzy bubbles in sparkling waters and sodas, you won’t love how they get trapped in your stomach and cause it to swell like a balloon.
Eat This! Instead: Though it’s not the most exciting option, for a flat, happy beach belly, fill up on plain ol’ water. The more hydrated you are, the less apt you are to retain fluid, which can cause that poochy tummy look even if you’ve got flat abs.