Not to toot my horn or anything but I have a natural six-pack. Whether I exercise or not, it’s right there — showin’ out and off. Here’s the challenge, though — as I’ve gotten older, it’s been easier and easier for a layer or two of fat to cover it, so I’ve had to get real with myself about the fact that drinking IZZEs all day and eating ice cream late at night are not the way to go if I still want my natural six-pack to make an appearance.
Besides, the harsh reality is, belly fat isn’t exactly the best for our health. While it’s kind of a long story, there are basically two kinds of fat — there’s visceral which covers up our abdominal organs and there’s subcutaneous which sits right underneath our skin and creates a bit of a protective layer as well as helps to regulate our body temperature. Problem is, when either of these become too much, they can lead to things like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain kinds of cancer.
That’s why, even if it’s not for aesthetic reasons, it’s important to monitor how much alcohol you drink, to balance your stress, to get consistent rest, to not smoke, to understand your family’s health-related history, and to watch your diet — so that you can do your part to keep your liver, stomach, uterus and other organs in your abdominal region is good condition.
As far as the diet part goes, there are several foods that you can eat that can help you to lose some of your belly fat (if losing some is currently one of your personal goals). So, are you ready to learn about which 10 foods can help to make that happen?
As far as nutrition goes, oatmeal is really good for you. It’s got an off-the-charts amount of manganese in it (191 percent of the Recommended Dietary Intake) along with fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, and Vitamin B. As far as other health benefits go, oatmeal contains antioxidants known as avenanthramides; these are beneficial because they help to lower your blood pressure. Oatmeal is also good for you because it helps to lower your blood sugar levels, can relieve constipation, and can offer you up a boost of energy too.
And why does oatmeal top the “belly fat burn” list? Well, thanks to the fiber in it, oatmeal can help to remove toxins that may be stored up, even in your gut area. Also, oatmeal has a soluble fiber called beta-glucans in it that can help you to feel fuller longer so that you’re able to resist the urge to eat junk food or snack on sugary stuff all hours of the day. So, if you’re ready to shed a few inches around your belly area, a bowl of oatmeal (with some fresh fruit like berries) can help to make that happen.
If you’re looking for a good dose of protein or Vitamin B, eggs have both. Some other things worth noting about them is they are full of “good cholesterol,” the choline in them helps to build your cell membranes and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin make eggs really beneficial when it comes to maintaining your vision.
And since eggs are such a protein-loaded kind of food (six grams per serving) and protein is what’s needed to build muscle, if while you’re trying to lose abdominal fat, you also want to gain muscle tone, a hard-boiled egg is always a good look.
Even though I have a fungal sensitivity (and mushrooms are indeed a fungus), I still have moments when I absolutely cannot resist them. I actually like them so much that sometimes I will pan-sear them with rosemary, butter, salt, and white pepper and…whew, chile! Mushrooms are healthy because they’ve got vitamins B and D, antioxidants, copper, and potassium in them. They are also good for you because they help to keep the cancer cells that cause prostate and breast cancer at bay, fight free radicals, lower cholesterol levels, strengthen bones and hair, and can even fight anemia.
Since vitamin D deficiency is directly linked to belly fat accumulation and mushrooms are a good source of this nutrient, if you’re a mushroom lover as well, you can see how it can effectively assist with getting your tummy down to where you want it to be.
4. Grass-Fed Meats
Because cows were meant to graze on grass, that’s why grass-fed meats are a lot healthier for you. That said, not only is grass-fed meat lower in calories, it’s high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and even electrolytes. And since it’s also antibiotic and hormone-free, you don’t have to worry about this kind of meat throwing off your hormones and packing on even more pounds.
Specifically, when it comes to your belly, grass-fed meats have an amino acid called leucine in them. It works alongside omega-3s to reduce bodily inflammation and produce lean muscle mass.
5. Raspberries and Blueberries
If nothing makes you happier than snacking on a bowl of fresh raspberries and blueberries (raspberries are at their best from June thru October and blueberries are at their peak from June thru August), you are already well on your way to doing your body a world of good. That’s because both fruits are high in vitamins C and K, antioxidants, fiber, and manganese. If you’re looking for foods that can reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, fight off free radicals, protect your skin from damaging UV rays, help to prevent UTIs (urinary tract infections), and help to fight heart disease, raspberries and blueberries are tough to beat.
Belly-wise, they’re dope because they both are low-calorie fruits that can boost your metabolism and curb your appetite in the process. So yep, eat up and on!
6. White Tea
If you happen to be a tea lover, make sure that you’ve got some white tea in your stash. It has lots of antioxidants in it. It helps to reduce bodily inflammation. It’s got fluoride, catechins, and tannins in it that can help to keep your teeth and gums in really good shape. It contains compounds that help to prevent and fight cancer. White tea even has compounds that can help to slow down the signs of aging in your skin.
What makes it truly amazing in the fighting belly fat department is some of the properties in it will literally block the formation of fat cells in your system while helping to increase the breakdown of fat at the same time. So again, if you don’t have any white tea in a pantry somewhere…what are you waiting on, sis?
7. Bell Peppers
There aren’t too many foods that I’m not a fan of; however, for those of you who are totally down for bell peppers any chance that you get, please drop a note in the comments and let me know why. I mean, purely from a taste standpoint because, when it comes to health benefits, I totally get it. Bell peppers are made up of 92 percent water yet they still are a pretty good source of fiber and protein, not to mention vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. Bell peppers are also full of plant compounds that are good for maintaining eye health and preventing chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Also, bell peppers are beneficial because the iron levels in them can reduce your chances of becoming anemic.
As far as belly fat goes, bell peppers are helpful, thanks to the fact that the compound capsaicin in them is not only able to increase the rate that your body is able to burn fat, it’s able to significantly suppress your appetite too.
8. Tart Cherries
The “technical” name for tart cherries is Montmorency cherries and, believe it or not, they are loaded with protein. Along with that, some other of its nutrients include fiber, vitamins A and C, manganese, potassium, and copper. Athletes like to snack on tart cherries because they’re able to reduce muscle soreness. Some studies say that tart cherries can help to reduce the pain that’s directly associated with arthritis and gout. They also contain melatonin which can make it easier to fall asleep at night. And the antioxidants in tart cherries are able to boost your brainpower.
If, like me, you like to eat cherries (their peak season is July and August), eat up because one study revealed that they are really good at reducing abdominal fat and decreasing fat mass overall.
I’m pretty sure that most of you know that pickles are simply cucumbers that have sat in vinegar for a good amount of time. This process puts pickles into the “fermented foods” category. This is great because fermented foods help to promote a healthy gut (check out “80% Of Your Immunity Is In Your Gut. Take Care Of It Like This.”). They also help your body to better digest vitamins B and K and improve your overall mood. Some other benefits of pickles include the fact that they’re full of antioxidants, they support your immune system remaining in top shape and they’re a solid source of potassium; this is great because potassium works to keep your heartbeat regulated while making sure that your muscles and nerves work as they should.
When it comes to belly fat, pickles are its enemy due to the fact that the vinegar in pickles is a consistent fat burner. Plus, since cucumbers are made up of 96 percent water, it’s a low-calorie snack that you can enjoy without any worry or guilt.
10. Dark Chocolate
The more I read and research the foods that are good for our overall health and well-being, the more I’m amazed by how often dark chocolate ends up on so many different lists. Did you know that whenever you eat the kind that contains no less than 65 percent cocoa, you’re taking in lots of iron, magnesium, copper, fiber, manganese, zinc, and antioxidants? All of these things work together to lower your cholesterol levels, increase blood circulation, reduce heart disease, protect your skin from damaging UV rays, improve brain function and keep your libido on track.
And how awesome is it that dark chocolate is good at reducing belly fat too? Thanks to the anti-inflammatory flavonoids that it has in it, it is able to reduce your overall body fat which is ultimately good for your stomach area in the long run.
Know what else I ain’t got no problem patting myself on the back about? I can make the entire hell out of some homemade eggplant parmesan! That’s why I can definitely vouch for the fact that it’s a great meat substitute/alternative (check out “10 Foods That Make Eating Less Meat...Easier”). Eggplant is also high in fiber, a pretty good source of protein and manganese and it has some potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins C and K in it too. Not only that but eggplant helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower your blood sugar levels and the phytonutrients can help to boost brainpower.
Eggplant is great at reducing belly fat because the fiber in it can help to remove excess waste and the protein in it can help to build muscles. So, if you’re looking for food that will be a perfect complement to your cardio and crunches, eating eggplant can never steer you wrong.
Quinoa is a grain that’s considered to be a superfood. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’s got a ton of protein in it (eight grams per serving), along with lots of fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, iron, copper, and zinc. Quinoa is also good for you because it contains plant compounds that fight inflammation, amino acids that support your immune system and give you extra energy, properties that help to control your blood sugar levels, antioxidants that slow down signs of aging and, it’s a gluten-free food if you happen to be someone who has a gluten intolerance.
What makes it such a powerful belly fat fighter is the fact that quinoa contains a super high level of the neutral chemical compound betaine. That’s great because betaine increases metabolism and helps to inhibit the production of fat at the same time. Not to mention the fact that zinc and magnesium are two nutrients that fight against fat that likes to develop in the gut area too.
BONUS: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
At the end of the day, extra virgin olive oil is olive oil that has been processed the least so that you can get the most out of it. And what you’re getting are vitamins E and K, antioxidants that fight inflammation and properties that boost skin health, lower your blood pressure, improve digestion, help to prevent gallstones, slow down the aging process and so much more.
Since extra virgin olive oil helps to increase your metabolism, contains monounsaturated fats (these fats are actually semi-difficult to gain weight from) and it also has the polyphenol oleocanthal in it (it fights against inflammation in the gut area), cooking with this particular oil can work in your favor as you’re trying to get your tummy tight and right for the spring and summer seasons.
There you have it. 13 foods that are delicious to eat and great for dissolving belly fat…so that this summer, you can show that tummy off on a whole ‘nother level! (Be sure to send us some pics, chile!)
Featured image by Getty Images
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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