Slimming down your waistline is no easy feat. But, it might not be as difficult as you think.

Most people would love a magic potion to help them trim down in the tummy area. But, until that exists we have a few suggestions that can help make a big difference.

Here are 8 tips that will be able to help you in the fight against belly bulge:

1. Find out how much body fat you have.

There are precise ways to do this that your doctor will be able to do with technology, such as a CT scan or an MRI. But being in your own home, you can do this too by measuring your body mass index (BMI).

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Abdominal fat is an indicator of visceral fat — which is problematic. Ensuring your BMI is within a healthy range will keep you on the right track.

2. Eat smaller portions.

This doesn’t mean to go from eating a huge plate of food to eating only what fits on a salad plate. But, fighting the belly bulge does begin with portion control so consider using a smaller plate to train your eyes and your stomach to eat less.

3. Keep moving.

When you are at work, move around. By continually moving around, your body is able to burn calories. You can do simple things, such as walking in place or even shifting your hips. Any additional movement will help you start to burn that belly bulge. If you are unable to move around at work, try using a standing workstation. Small steps to avoid obesity can potentially help save you from developing more serious health conditions like diabetes and cancer.

“Start walking or take the stairs,” suggests Helga Van Herle, MD, MS, associate professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a cardiologist at Keck Medicine of USC. Did you know that most medical societies and government advisory guidelines recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity a day? To get more walking in, park in the furthest parking spot to your destination. And instead of taking an elevator, try walking up the stairs. Climbing five flights of stairs five times a week burns approximately 302 calories. That could result in a loss of 15 pounds a year.”

4. Cut back on stressful activities.

Stress can cause us to lose sleep and over eat. There is a hormone in your body called cortisol. Cortisol tends to motivate people to be more motivated, but at the same time it does cause impact your appetite. When you have stress that continues over a long period of time, your cortisol levels may not decrease, which will lead to stress induced eating and a constant appetite.

5. Snack on nuts.

When you go to grab that bag of potato chips, think twice. There are healthier alternatives. Peanuts, cashews, pistachios and other nuts have proteins that are much healthier than the processed chemicals that are used on potato chips.

“Nuts are a great source of Vitamin E,” said Chelsea Marquez, MS, RDN, bariatric dietician at Keck Medicine of USC. “They’re also a good source of antioxidants, which help keep your heart healthy and your blood pressure healthy as well.”

6. Try yoga.

Finding ways to destress can benefit you in many areas, including your waistline. Burning calories doesn’t have to mean training for a marathon. Toning and stretching your muscles is a great way to start the weight loss process and not get too overwhelmed with increased physical activity.

7. Sleep.

Sleep deprivation can actually cause your belly to get bigger. What happens when you start to lack sleep is that your metabolism stops functioning in the way it should. This leads to unintended weight gain. If your exhausted you are likely to skip any physical activity you planned for the day too. Aim for at least eight hours a night.

“Treat it like you treat exercise and diet,” says Eric J. Kezirian, MD, professor of clinical otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and an sleep medicine specialist at Keck Medicine of USC. “It’s important for your health and for getting the most out of life.”

8. Get health tips from your physician.

There are many more ways to stay healthy. Each person’s body functions completely differently. Visit your primary care physician and talk about your health goals. They can recommend resources that can help you stay fresh, healthy and in shape.

If you’re in the Southern California area and are in search of a primary care physician, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

By Leonard Kim