Healthy Highlights: Laura Mancuso, I.V. Wellness Resources Programs Director

Happy New Year!

If you would like a leaner body in 2024, here are some proven tips for you to help whittle down your waistline and get rid of belly fat: Eat more fiber.Cut sugary drinks.Read nutrition labels.Choose lean proteins.Eat mindfully.Avoid alcohol.Get enough sleep.Reduce stress.Choose healthier carbs.Get regular exercise.Track your progress.Combine your targeted approaches.Stay consistent.Eat more fiberA higher fiber intake is linked to a lower risk of belly fat.Try adding more high-fiber vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, to your diet. The fiber will help you feel full more quickly and allow your digestive system to run more efficiently. This is important because constipation can lead to midsection bloat, but that goes away once you add more fiber-filled vegetables.Beyond vegetables, there are plenty of healthy, high-fiber food options that will help you fill up faster, including:Apples.Avocados.Beans.Berries.Lentils.Oatmeal.-Prunes, which can help satisfy a sweet craving without added sugar.-Seeds, like chia seeds, flax seeds and sunflower seeds.-Cut sugary drinks-Refined sugars, which are not naturally occurring in foods like fruit, can cause your body to respond with inflammation. Inflammation is part of the body’s healing process, but too much inflammation can have harmful effects. For instance, when the body has too much inflammation, it prefers to store fat in and around the belly for easier energy access.Sugar can also raise blood sugar and insulin levels, leading the body to store more midsection fat. One source of added sugar that’s easy to overlook is sugary drinks, which typically have no nutritional value. Sugary drinks may also give you a quick boost of energy but that will be followed by a sugar crash and an energy slump. Some alternatives to soda, sweetened coffee drinks and other sugary beverages include:Coconut water.Hot water with lemon or other fruits.Sparkling water, which you can sweeten with a splash of 100% juice.Unsweetened tea or coffee.Water.Avoid alcohol. Alcoholic drinks are filled with extra, unneeded calories that make their way to your waistline. Plus, some drinks with alcohol – looking at you, sweet cocktails – are loaded with sugar. Try a non-alcoholic mocktail to keep your waistline in check while treating your taste buds. Make use of seasonings like mint, cinnamon and spices to add more flavor.Here are a couple fun mocktail ideas:A mocktail Paloma. Freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice, sparkling mineral water, lime juice and chipotle seasoning.A simple juice mocktail. Sparkling water with a splash of 100% fruit juice and a slice of lime.Get enough sleepMost adults need seven to nine hours of shut-eye a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep also helps to control your appetite, as lack of sleep can make you want to eat more – and you’ll likely choose foods with more sugar and unhealthy fats.Try these tips to improve your sleep:Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.Have a before-sleep routine to relax you. Consider including meditation, deep breathing or wind-down yoga.Move distracting electronics out of reach.Reduce stressUnfortunately, there’s no sure way to completely eliminate stress just to banish belly fat. However, you can learn how to control your reaction to stress, so you aren’t causing a constant cortisol rush.Consistently high cortisol levels can be linked to abdominal obesity. Here are a few tips to ease stress:Controlled breaths. One easy thing you can do is to practice slow, controlled breaths, in through your nose Take time for yourself. Do something you enjoy every day, even if it’s just for 10 to 15 minutes, the American Heart Association advises. Create art, read, talk to a friend, take a relaxing bath or find another activity that allows you to tune out stress and tune in to me-time.Learn to say “no.” Instead of saying “yes” to anything that others ask you to do – and then end up overwhelming yourself – take a pause and say “no” as needed. This will help you prioritize your own health and wellness. Choose healthier carbsCarbohydrates aren’t always the villain they’re often made out to be. The body uses carbs to make glucose, which provides the body with energy. That’s why you hear about carbs playing an important role for people who run long distances or participate in endurance races.The body needs carbs, but it’s key to monitor the type of carbs you’re eating to promote better health. The three types of carbs are:Starches, which includes grains, starchy veggies like potatoes and beans.Sugar, which is a simple carbohydrate.Fiber.When it comes to losing belly fat, slowly digested, high-fiber carbs can help improve blood sugar management and lower your body’s insulin resistance. This can help to reduce belly fat. Foods like oats, beans and whole grains are carb sources that are nutrient-dense. This is a healthy contrast to carbs that come from foods with added sugars that reach the bloodstream quickly and can lead to a blood sugar spike.U.S. News and Health