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Men's Top 5 Gut-Busting Diet Mistakes

What not to do for your belly's sake.

Eating to Beat Stress

Stress, which may put you at risk of diseases such as heart disease and depression, can also contribute to weight gain.

Stress, which may put you at risk of diseases such as heart disease and depression, can also contribute to weight gain.

Stress affects how you think. If you are consumed by thoughts of an upcoming meeting with your boss or worried about how you are going to make your mortgage payments, it’s less likely that you are going to have the mental energy to compose a healthy menu for yourself each day.

Instead, when you are feeling anxious, you are more likely to turn to sweet, fatty foods like candy and cookies.

“Stress is a huge problem,” Villacorta says. “And not just big stress, but everyday stress caused by missed alarms and running late.”

So if you want to flatten your belly, you have to take steps to control your stress levels. And that's not just about what goes on your plate.

For his own stress, Villacorta follows his therapist’s recommendation and does some simple relaxation exercises. Twice a day, he spends a few minutes taking deep breaths.

“I started doing that, and it was amazing,” he says. "Stress is going to be there,” Villacorta says, “but you can still learn to be healthy.”

Overlooking Liquid Calories

Before you reach for another soda or pour yourself a cup of juice, take a look at the nutrition label and see how many calories you’ll be consuming. You may be surprised to learn that an 8-ounce serving of each is 100 calories or more. Considering how much fluid your body needs in a day, you could be flooding it with gut-expanding calories.

The better option when thirst strikes is to down a glass of water. And if you drink milk, opt for the skim or low-fat varieties. You’re still getting the calcium and vitamin D you need, but without the added calories.

“You want to move away from whole milk and consume large amounts of water rather than juice,” White says.

It’s even more important to go easy on alcohol. Aside from the obvious health reasons to avoid excess drinking, alcohol is not easy on your midsection -- and not just because of its calories.

“When you drink, your inhibitions go down,” Villacorta says. “You stop caring and hunger starts to strike.”

That’s a dangerous combination. Consider yourself warned.

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Reviewed on April 14, 2011

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