If your first thought is excitement that it's finally nice enough to hit the beach, and your second is panic that you have to don a swimsuit, we're with you. Make the process a little less painful with these bloat-beating, belly-fat-melting foods. By Holly Corbett, REDBOOK.
Nosh on a cucumber salad
The next time you feel puffy, add natural diuretics-foods that help nix water retention-to your shopping list. For a triple-dose that will help you shed extra water-weight, toss half of a sliced cucumber with one-quarter cup parsley and one tablespoon lemon juice, suggests Molly Morgan, RD, author of The Skinny Rules: 101 Secrets Every Skinny Girl Knows.
Go for a fruity treat
Dehydration, which plugs up your digestive tract, can actually poof out your belly, says Morgan. Constipation and bikinis don't mix, so avoid getting parched by noshing on fruits-they're natural hydrators since they're at least 60 percent water. Melons and papaya are especially good because they also contain potassium, which helps regulate your body's balance of fluids and minerals and fights salt-induced water retention. Cut a cantaloupe in half, scoop out the seeds, and fill with sliced papaya for a thirst-quenching snack.
Related: 25 Lazy Ways to Burn Extra Calories Just Like That
Sip a ginger smoothie
Blend together three cups each spinach and kale, two kiwis, one thumb-sized bit of ginger root and one-half cup cold water, suggests chef Andres Meraz of The Ritz-Carlton South Beach in Miami. Green leafy vegetables like spinach are especially high in magnesium, which helps regulate blood sugar to tame appetite. Kiwis have been found to ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as bloating, while ginger eases digestion and soothes your stomach so it doesn't look all puffed out.
Spread on avocados
Though they taste like vegetables, avocados are technically fruits-and are high in heart-healthy fats that can help curb your appetite. Fat doesn't spike blood-sugar levels, and can take up to six hours to fully digest-more time than starches or even protein-to ward off an afternoon snack attack. Avocados' creamy texture and mild, nutty flavor make them a great swap for butter or mayonnaise on sandwiches.
Related: 21 Ways to Burn Fat Faster
Down some iced water
Sipping water is a bloat-busting and appetite-taming move because it's easy to mistake thirst for hunger, something that could prompt you to fill your stomach with salt-laden, bloat-inducing processed junk food. Drinking water cold may also help speed your metabolism, according to a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. In fact, sipping about six cups of icy H2O daily could boost your resting metabolism by approximately 50 calories a day, which means you could shed up to five extra pounds in a year. One theory is that drinking the cold stuff makes your body work harder to warm it up, and therefore burns more calories.
Chew on fennel seeds
You may have seen a bowl of fennel seeds near the exit of your favorite Indian restaurant, and that's because they've been used for thousands of years in India to beat bloat naturally. Got PMS? Ate too much at brunch? Try adding fennel seeds to your spice cabinet and grabbing a pinch of 'em whenever your stomach starts to feel like you've swallowed a beach ball.
Related: 31 Days of Snacks for Grown-Ups
Swap in apple cider vinegar
The enzymes in apple cider vinegar help the healthy bacteria in your gut survive and thrive, which means you'll have an easier time digesting food for less gas and bloating. For a more taut stomach, try mixing a tonic of two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and eight ounces of spring water the morning before slipping into your most form-fitting sundress or revealing bathing suit. Or add it to your salad dressing in place of balsamic vinegar for a tastier, equally low-cal way to get a dose of the acidic stuff.
Suck on peppermint
Chewing gum can make you gulp in extra air, creating a tummy pooch, says Morgan. Instead of chomping on gum, try a natural tummy-flattener and breath-freshener in one: Peppermint oil capsules can kill the kind of bacteria that causes stinky breath and bloating, and also aid digestion.
More from REDBOOK: