Minimize the look of those lumps on your legs, thighs, and butt with these foods—and food habits—that fight cellulite.
From celebrities to your best friend, just about every woman you know—or know about—deals with cellulite. And while many people go above and beyond to try to melt the extra fat away, there is no one singular solution to diminishing those dimples. There are, however, diet and exercise tricks that can work wonders in helping to reduce the appearance of cellulite. As diet experts, we're here to give you the lowdown on the foods that fight cellulite, and healthy eating habits you can adopt to zap that pesky fat for good. Try these eight simple eating solutions to get you on the fast track to smooth, healthy skin.
1. Set a snack schedule.
"Sticking to a regular daily pattern trains your brain when to expect food and when not to, so you're less likely to nosh between meals,” says Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at Tufts University and co-author of The "I” Diet. "It's those unplanned snacks that tend to trip you up because they're often high-calorie or high-sugar foods,” she says. Your mission: aim to eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner around the same time every day (yes, even on the weekends), and pack smart snacks you can turn to when your energy levels dip mid-afternoon. (Did You Know These 3 Sneaky Ingredients Can Cause Cellulite?)
2. Eat whole grains.
Studies have found that people who eat whole grains, rather than processed white flour, have less belly fat than those who eat fewer complex carbs. Less belly fat means fewer chances of severe cellulite cropping up, so whole grains fall in the anti-cellulite foods category. And with the variety of whole-grain products on store shelves today, it's easier than ever to snub the refined stuff. Plus, the higher fiber content in whole-wheat bread and pasta keeps you feeling full longer, so you won't have to contend with a rumbling belly. (Here are the 6 Most Overlooked Foods for Weight Loss.)
3. Make friends with fat.
It may sound counterintuitive, but trust us: To lose fat, you have to get over your fat phobia. Healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil can actually help with weight loss, and are therefore foods to get rid of cellulite. (These Home Remedies May Help Reduce Cellulite, Too.) Plus, healthy fats often help add flavor, texture, and a feeling of satisfaction to a meal—all things you need if you want to stick to a healthy eating plan. To keep your portions in check, use them as condiments, rather than the main attraction, suggests Delia Hammock, R.D., a nutritional consultant in New York City. Example: Spread a tablespoon of mashed avocado onto a sandwich for lunch, or try these high-fat foods that belong in every diet.
4. Choose a cheat meal.
The concept of a cheat day is a weight-loss staple, but it's also the Achilles' heel of many eating plans. A day of eating whatever you want can add up to thousands (yes, thousands) of extra calories. It can also make it harder to get back on track the next day, when your brain has a chocolate dessert hangover. Instead of splurging for an entire day, Lisa Young, Ph.D., R.D., author of The Portion Teller Plan, recommends sticking to just one cheat meal each week. "Plan it, enjoy it, and as long as it happens just once a week, you won't break the calorie bank." (These Comfort Food Recipes Are Totally Worth the Splurge.)
5. Spice up your food.
If you're looking for foods that reduce cellulite, turn to your spice cabinet—but make your choices carefully. Loading your plate with too many tastes or aromas may trigger the production of hunger-inducing hormones that can make you overeat without realizing it. Instead, keep the flavor simple, yet bold. Spices like crushed red pepper, paprika, and chili powder all contain capsaicin, a compound that may increase satiety and help you eat less, according to research published in the International Journal of Obesity. Not into your food packing heat? Try flavorful spices, like cumin, turmeric, or coriander.
6. Eat vegetarian meals more often.
A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who ate the most meat were about 27 percent more likely to be obese, and 33 percent more likely to have dangerous abdominal fat that accumulates around the organs and increases your risk of heart disease. They also consumed about 700 more calories per day, on average. All of this means meat isn't exactly one of the items you should be reaching for when shopping for foods that fight cellulite. But if you're not willing to give up meat altogether, simply aim to incorporate a few more vegetarian meals into your weekly diet. One idea: Go all-veg at lunch, then cook up white meat—it's healthier than red—at dinner. (Here are 15 Vegetarian Recipes Even Meat-Eaters Will Love.)
7. Flex your willpower.
When it comes to choosing foods that eliminate cellulite, practice makes perfect—just like it does with any other healthy habit you want to adopt. Judith S. Beck, Ph.D., author of The Beck Diet Solution, suggests thinking of each of your choices as a resistance exercise. "Every time you refrain from eating something you hadn't planned, or you stick to a healthy choice, you strengthen your 'resistance muscle,' making it more likely that the next time you're tempted, you'll resist the urge," she explains. In other words, the decisions you make today impact the ones you'll make tomorrow, so go on and reach for those anti-cellulite foods over and over again.
8. Put together a filling starter plate.
Studies show that if you take the edge off hunger before lunch and dinner, you'll eat less. Try eating a small, healthy appetizer before digging in to your main meal. Not sure what qualifies as a good-for-you app? Reach for veggies first—those should take up about half your plate—then protein, followed by whole-grain carbohydrates. "Having veggies first satisfies your stomach and your brain," explains Young. "Plus, your eyes see a big portion on your plate, so your brain thinks you're eating more. By the time you get to the carbs—the danger zone for many people—you'll be ready to stop."