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10 Foods you should never, ever eat if you want a flat stomach

As hard as we try to get the infamous flat stomach, chances are your life will get in the way of getting that perfect, zero percent fat, Vicotria Secret/Men's Health ready six-pack you dream of.

There are a lot of natural, uncontrollable roadblocks stomach bloating is annoyingly one of them. Some foods bloat more than others though, and while not eating or drinking the foods and beverages listed below won't help you lose weight or get washboard abs, it will help you avoid bloating, and will thus have you looking leaner.

1. Dairy

Dairy products like cheese and milk can cause digestion issues - especially if you're lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy. Lactose is a natural sugar that's found in dairy products, and those who are lactose intolerant don't have the enzymes needed to break down this sugar. Don't rely on IBS tablets to treat your dairy woes either - if used excessively, it can be just as bad.

2. Cruciferous vegetables 

Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale all fall under the category of cruciferous vegetables. These foods are high in a number of nutrients like folate, vitamin C, and fiber. They're even thought to help prevent cancer. But they also contain raffinose, a type of carbohydrate that our bodies can't break down because we lack a certain enzyme to do so. Instead, raffinose is fermented by bacteria, a primary cause of gas and bloating. If you don't want to give up these vegetables, try roasting or steaming them to make them easier to digest.

3. Foods high in sodium

Most Americans consume more salt than the recommended daily amount. Our bodies' natural reaction to eating too much salt is to retain water, and when the body holds on to water, it bloats. As a guideline, most healthy people should be capping their sodium intake at 2,300 mg per day. Those who have diabetes or high blood pressure, or who are over 50, should only be consuming 1,500 mg per day. Packaged and processed foods, like canned soups, deli meats, and pre-made sauces, commonly contain large amounts of sodium.

4. Alcohol

Just like high-sodium foods, alcohol causes the body to retain water, leading to puffiness and bloating. Drinking can also trigger constipation, which leaves people feeling bloated as well.

5. Legumes 

These foods are all high in fiber and protein, which is what makes them good for you, but also what makes them hard to digest. Because legumes are packed with fiber that our bodies can't absorb, our gut bacteria goes to work on them instead, which causes gas and bloating. To avoid this, try eating legumes with whole grains that are easy to digest like rice or quinoa, or soak dried beans overnight, breaking down that fiber.

6. Yogurt

When it comes to yogurt, it all depends on what kind you're consuming. Plain yogurt can actually help your stomach because it contains probiotics, which are known to regulate digestion. However, if you're eating flavored yogurt that's high in sugar, you'll have more fermentation going on in your body, which means more gas and bloating.

7. Carbonated beverages 

No matter if it's soda or sparkling water, any sort of fizzy beverage can lead to bloating. That's because the bubbles present in these drinks cause your stomach to inflate.

8. Artificial sweeteners 

Many people gravitate towards artificial sweeteners because they have no calories. But calories aren't everything, and sweeteners like xylitol and sorbitol take a long time for the small intestine to digest, which is why substances like these can lead to bloating. The five artificial sweeteners that the FDA has approved - and therefore some of the most common - are: saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose.

9. Popcorn

There isn't anything specific in this popular snack that causes bloating; it's simply the volume of popcorn that most people eat which causes your stomach to expand more than usual. One serving of popcorn is anywhere from three to four cups. One cup is about the size of a tennis ball, which is a lot of popcorn for your stomach to hold.

10. Apples

Apples contain three things that contribute to gas and bloating: fiber, fructose, and sorbitol. Fructose and sorbitol are natural sugars - although sorbitol is often used as an artificial sweetener in foods - that many people can't tolerate. Other fruits that contain sorbitol include peaches, pears, prunes, and plums.

Keep these food groups in mind when your planning next weeks meals. Before you know it you'll be a mean, lean, balanced-diet-loving machine.