1. SUGAR – If you must have some sugar in your meal, try sweetener powder which has less calories than sugar. Sugar has 50 calories per tablespoon whilst sweetener powder only has 2 calories per tablespoon. I use this in my overnight oats and pancake batter. If you want to go completely off processed sugar then try dried dates or ripe bananas. Blend into your smoothie for natural added sugar.

2. HEALTHY FATS – So much controversy regarding fat/oil and weight loss. You cannot eliminate oil from your eating plan, they are absolutely necessary to having a balanced diet. I use olive oil, coconut oil in all my cooking. Instead of butter, I use avocado, peanut or almond butter in my wraps if necessary.

3. WHITE CARBS – make healthy swaps whenever possible with your grains. Instead of eating white rice everyday why not reduce to once a week or swap for brown rice, bulgur wheat, quinoa, whole wheat couscous, pasta or spaghetti. Even though they are healthy swaps you should still consume them in moderation and portion control.

4. H2O – staying hydrated is very important in getting that flat abdominal area you desire. I tend to drink up to 3 litres a day (water and green tea). Aim for 2 glasses of water with every meal throughout the day and you’ll be staying hydrated in no time.

5. SLEEP – there are scientific connection to sleep and weight loss. However I’ll only share the basics of going to bed on time to loose more weight. Sleeping early means less time to think about food and more time to have a good night rest. Sleep deprivation and running low on energy has been found to result in making bad food choices and eating for quick fix instead of nourishment purposes which then ends up with added weight to your waistline.

6. VEGETABLES – eating 5 portions of our daily recommended allowance of fruits and vegetables is very essential to getting that flat abdominal area you desire. Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, ugwu as been found to aid in reducing belly fat. I add fruits and vegetables to all my meals. However I eat most of my fruit allowance in the day for either breakfast or lunch and more vegetables at dinner time, fruits are packed full of sugar and you don’t want to be consuming too much sugar before bedtime.

7. PROTEIN – these are fish, chicken, prawns, lean meat, eggs and many more. The recommended daily amount of protein for the average sedentary woman is 46 grams and for an average sedentary man is 56 grams which is about the size of your fist. However I eat a bit more protein whenever I’m on a low-carb diet. We are all different so see what works well for you. If you must eat red meat such as lamb, pork, beef make sure to trim off any excess fat before cooking.

8. MOVE MORE – although abs are made in the kitchen but exercising gets you closer to your desired goal. Walking is my absolute favourite exercise at the moment which works all the muscles in the body and believe it or not also helps in reducing belly fat. High intensity exercises are very great for anyone not suffering from muscle or joint pain. Start off slowly and build yourself into it to avoid injury. Jogging and running are also great for all over body movement.

9. STRESS – we all have situations that can stress us out at one point or the other. Managing our stress level can also help in controlling our waistline. Are you an emotional eater? If so, try and think of healthy swaps instead of grabbing that donut, cake or pies. Store healthy quick snacks in your pantry and fridge such as fruits or vegetables, bake a banana oats bread to combat the sweet cravings. We cannot eliminate stress completely out of our lives but taking ourselves out of stressful environment can definitely help with keeping the weight down especially for emotional eaters.

10. LOVE YOURSELF – this is very important when starting on a weight loss journey or in general. You have to love the body you have whilst working for the body you want. Get negative thoughts out of your mind, stop pointing at your flaws in the mirror by simply putting yourself down. When I was at my heaviest at 90kg, I was not happy, I was constantly putting myself down until I decided to push myself to make the positive change I needed. Surround yourself with like-minded people that understands the new lifestyle you’re embarking on, limit your contact with negative people that will discourage you. Share your weight loss journey with people that totally understands the struggles of making this lifestyle change, enjoy each change you make with each step you take and don’t forget to CONGRATULATE YOURSELF AT EVERY STEP OF THE WAY!