Excess fat around the stomach and abdomen can lead to abdominal obesity.

Abdominal obesity occurs when excess fat around the stomach and abdomen affects your health negatively. Excessive belly fat can happen even if you have an overall normal BMI or are of healthy weight. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, long-term follow-up studies[1] have shown that abdominal obesity can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even death. It is common among men with abdominal obesity to sport an "apple-shaped" body type while women, usually gain fat around the hips and thighs which cause a “pear-shaped” body type.

Don't think that obesity is just exclusive to the middle-aged or elderly, it can affect the younger age group as well, especially if you're leading a sedentary lifestyle.

You can measure your waist circumference using a measuring tape. This is done close to the skin and ensuring that the tape is in between the lower ribs and navel. Be sure to measure during exhalation for more accurate results and you would want to maintain a waist size that is less than 80cm for Asian women and 90cm for Asian men.

Here are some daily habits that you can incorporate into your routine to keep belly fat at bay.

Daily Habit #1: Find Your Why

First of all, you need to ask yourself why it is important to you personally to lose weight. Are you a young parent who wants to stay fit to keep up with your child? Do you want to prevent the early onset of cardiovascular diseases? By determining your higher purpose at the very beginning of your fitness journey to battle the belly bulge, it will provide you with the motivation needed to power through your cravings or potential lapses in discipline.

Write it down on a Post-It and stick it somewhere visible or say it out loud before you start every workout. Perhaps saving a wallpaper of your adorable toddler on your phone will do the trick. Don’t be afraid to question your purpose and keep challenging it until you no longer make any excuses.

When your why is strong enough, eventually it will become a mantra.

Daily Habit #2: Hide Your Snacks

Are you guilty of being a habitual "snacker"? When it comes to curbing your food cravings, the phrase "out of sight, out of mind" rings true. Reorganise your pantry or kitchen to ensure none of your snacks is within reach. That means no food on your work desk, period!

Another tip is to practise mindful eating to avoid unnecessary snacking due to boredom, stress or habit. If you’re hungry in between meals, choose healthier snacks such as nuts, fruits or low-fat yoghurt.

Avoid snacking on junk food in-between meals.

Daily Habit #3: Follow Fitness & Healthy Eating Social Media Pages

Social media can be a great source of fitness motivation if you know where to look. Whether they are healthy meal prep pages for tips on healthier eating or daily workout videos to try on the go, Instagram, YouTube and even Tik Tok can be useful tools.

Try following a sport or activity that you enjoy or athletes that inspire you. The cool thing about social media platforms is that their algorithms can identify your interests base on what you click, like and share. So essentially, they are able to recommend similar pages to explore.

Also, check out the Health Promotion Board's online content such as those on HealthHub, the Healthy 365 app and Moveit.sg programme for more health and fitness ideas. Think of it as going down the Internet rabbit hole in a positive way.

Daily Habit #4: Use Smaller Plates

This is purely a mental tactic. By using a smaller plate, it will automatically force you to have a smaller serving subconsciously. Neat trick, eh.

It might seem like an illusion but ultimately the main habit that needs to be trained into your psyche is portion control. The visual illusion tricks your mind into thinking you’re eating more as the food portion looks bigger with a smaller plate.

Another mental tactic to eat less whilst still enjoying your meal is to savour the food slowly - take small bites and chew slowly and well, enjoy the flavours and textures on each mouthful.

Daily Habit #5: Track What You Eat Every Day

A powerful habit that can be built is to write down specifically all that you eat every day so that you are more conscious of your own eating patterns and can look out for areas of improvement. Losing weight ultimately comes down to calories in, calories out.

You might be surprised at the number of sugar-laden beverages or snacks that you consume when you start to keep track of it all. Small changes such as substituting fruit for chips for afternoon tea, for example, can go a long way in the long term. An example of a useful smartphone app to use is the MyFitnessPal which allows you to calculate the number of calories and nutrients of food items or you can even track your calories consumption daily with paper and pen.

Cultivate healthy eating habits.

Maintaining a balanced calorie intake daily and keeping belly fat at bay requires discipline and dedication. It is important to approach it with a positive mindset while making these small and gradual changes. These daily habits will eventually lead to a sustained commitment and ultimately a change towards a healthier lifestyle. The Eat, Drink, Shop Healthy Challenge on Healthhub is available to help you motivate yourself to choose healthier food and drink options in a fun and rewarding way. Health is wealth so be sure to make it your priority.

Information on having balanced meals and tips on how to follow My Healthy Plate’s guide is available via the HealthHub mobile app, which can be downloaded for free at the App Store and Google Play.


References

[1] Harvard University (2016). Waist Size Matters. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved March 17, 2021, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-definition/abdominal-obesity/