Eating too much. Gaining too much weight. Worrying about diabetes and heart disease. A lot of us are super stressed about the numbers on the scale and what they mean for our quality of life.
Yet trying to lose weight can be difficult, especially once we’ve passed a certain age. Stress, changing hormones, lack of exercise, and pressure at work can all sabotage even the best-laid plans.
We all need a little help now and then in staying on track with our weight loss goals. Here are ten tips to try to avoid those devilish temptations, and eat less!
10 Tips to Help You Cut Back on Calories
Whether your weakness is late-night snacking, sugar, fatty foods, or salty snacks, there are ways to trick your brain into eating less. Here are ten to try:
- Use smaller plates. A full small plate looks the same to your brain as a full large plate, but you’ll eat less. Use small dishes for snacks as well, rather than eating directly out of the bag—pour some in a small bowl and stop when it’s gone. It’s best to also make sure that the plate is a different color than the food—a white bowl for tomato soup, for instance. Different colors help you better determine healthy serving portions.
- Think skinny. If you’re having a cocktail or a fancy dessert, use a tall, skinny glass. They typically hold less than shorter, wider versions, yet they look like they hold a lot, so they may fool you into feeling satisfied with less.
- Eat with skinny friends. Studies show we are influenced by others when we eat. Surrounding yourself with others who don’t over-indulge can help you do the same.
- Keep healthy snacks visible. If you have a bowl of chocolate at your desk or at home on the counter, you’re likely to eat it. Fill these bowls with fruit and other healthy, lower-calorie snacks instead.
- Get the serving dish off the counter. Studies show that people eat up to 30 percent more when the serving dish is left on the table. Once you’ve served up the food on the plates, remove the dish.
- But keep the bones in sight. People ate fewer chicken wings when they could see the bones of those they’d already eaten then if the bones were taken away. (But it’s best to try not to eat chicken wings! LOL)
- Turn down the lights. Studies show that people eat more slowly—and eat fewer calories—when they eat in a relaxed, low-lit setting with some soft music playing. Bright lights and rock music leads to eating more. Try a softer bulb or some candles.
- Pump up the volume. One study showed that volume can affect how satisfied we feel after a snack. Even though three cups of popcorn and one slice of whole wheat bread may have the same number of calories, you’re likely to feel more full and satisfied after the three cups of popcorn, simply because it takes up more space.
- Cut up your food. This is related to the volume idea—you’ll feel like you’re getting more if you take more bites. Don’t forget to chew each one thoroughly and put your fork down between bites.
- Hang a mirror in the kitchen. It will help remind you of your goals every time you’re tempted to reach for just a little more food.
- Have dessert in the morning. A study by the Tel Aviv University found that dieters who ate a small dessert with breakfast, such as a square of chocolate, a donut, or a cookie—lost an average of nearly 40 pounds more than the ones who avoided sweets.
- Forget about exercise. A Cornell University Study found that thinking about your upcoming workout can make you hungry, and resulted in people snacking 55 percent more than when their thoughts were focused elsewhere. Do your exercise, but then forget about it!
Do you have other ways to trick yourself into eating less? Please share them with us.
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“Fooled by Food: How to Trick Yourself Into Eating Less,” Nutrition Action, April 2013.
Jena Pincott, “Diet Strategies: Trick Your Brain So You Actually Want to Eat Less,” Huffington Post, April 29, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/29/diet-strategies-eat-less-weight-loss-tips_n_3132291.html.