9 Ways to Trick Yourself into Eating Less

9 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Eating Less

Most weight loss strategies involve drastically changing your diet and/or exercise habits. However, there are also a number of easy science-backed ways to trick yourself into eating less, mostly involving changing cues and habits. These are all minor changes that can bring significant results over time. So, here they are:

 

1. Cook at Home:

Cooking at home is fun and is good for your waistline. A study found that the average person eats 130 more calories when eating out. Specifically, breakfast away from home adds 73 more calories; lunch away from home adds 157 more calories; dinner away from home adds 137 more calories, on average. Just don’t cook a bunch of donuts and cheesecakes!

 

2. Use Small Plates:

One study gave 85 nutrition experts either a small (2 oz.) or a larger (3 oz.) spoon and a small (17 oz.) or larger (34 oz.) bowl to serve themselves ice cream with at an ice cream social. The researchers found that the nutrition experts served themselves 14.5% more with the larger spoon and 31.0% more with the larger bowl. This matters because people consume an average of 92% of the food that they serve themselves. To make matters worse, plate sizes in the U.S. have been increasing for years:

plate size in the U.S.

 

3. Use Red Plates:

You might not expect the color of your plate to matter, but it does. A study found that the color red reduced food intake. Better yet, it only reduced the intake of unhealthy foods. This appears to occur because of the color’s association with danger. The color red acts as a subtle reminder that unhealthy foods could be harmful to your health.

 

4. Turn Off the TV:

Next, turn off the TV. Another study had participants eat either macaroni and cheese or pizza while watching TV or listening to music. Participants actually ate 71% more macaroni and cheese and 36% more pizza when watching TV!

tv watching and caloric intake

Of course, you shouldn’t be eating macaroni and cheese and pizza anyway.

 

5. Drink 2 Glasses of Water Before Eating:

Another study found that drinking 500 ml. (2.1 cups) of water before eating led to a 13% reduction in calories consumed. So consider downing 2 glasses of water before you eat meals.

 

6. Chew Slowly:

When you get the meal on your plate, you should slow down your chewing speed. One study found that participants ate 66 fewer calories when they ate slowly. The main reason this works is that it take the brain about 20 minutes from the time you start eating to send signals of fullness to the body. So, if you power down your meal in 15 minutes you are likely to eat past the point where you became full.

 

7. Eat with Your Non-Dominant Hand

Another study found that those who ate with their non-dominant hand consumed 30% fewer calories. If you’re ambidextrous you might be out of luck on this one.

 

8. Keep Seconds in the Kitchen:

Another interesting study found that people stop eating because they are full less than 40% of the time. More often, people stop eating because there ran out of time or they ran out of food. So, keep those seconds in the kitchen so that you run out of food and have to make a conscious decision to get more.

 

9. Hide Unhealthy Snacks:

What about all of those unhealthy snacks? Participants ate 1.8x more candy when it was placed on their desk versus 2 meters away. They also ate 2.2x more candy when it was visible versus when it was covered. So if you can’t throw it away, at least hide the unhealthy food.

 

Conclusion:

None of the tricks above will make a significant difference if you just do them once. So, pick a couple that you don’t already do and work on making them a habit. You might want to start with buying small red plates, because that one doesn’t take any additional effort once you have the plates. Good luck!

 

Citations:

Andrade, Ana M., Geoffrey W. Greene, and Kathleen J. Melanson. “Eating slowly led to decreases in energy intake within meals in healthy women.”Journal of the American Dietetic Association 108.7 (2008): 1186-1191.

Blass, Elliott M., et al. “On the road to obesity: Television viewing increases intake of high-density foods.” Physiology & behavior 88.4 (2006): 597-604.

Cohen, Deborah, and Thomas A. Farley. “Peer reviewed: eating as an automatic behavior.” Preventing chronic disease 5.1 (2008).

Davy, Brenda M., et al. “Water consumption reduces energy intake at a breakfast meal in obese older adults.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 108.7 (2008): 1236-1239.

Mancino, Lisa, Jessica Todd, and Biing-Hwan Lin. “Separating what we eat from where: Measuring the effect of food away from home on diet quality.” Food Policy 34.6 (2009): 557-562.

Neal, David T., et al. “The Pull of the Past When Do Habits Persist Despite Conflict With Motives?.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 37.11 (2011): 1428-1437.

Reutner, Leonie, Oliver Genschow, and Michaela Wänke. “The adaptive eater: Perceived healthiness moderates the effect of the color red on consumption.”Food Quality and Preference 44 (2015): 172-178.

Tuomisto, Terhi, et al. “Reasons for initiation and cessation of eating in obese men and women and the affective consequences of eating in everyday situations.” Appetite 30.2 (1998): 211-222.

Van Ittersum, Koert, and Brian Wansink. “Plate size and color suggestibility: the Delboeuf Illusion’s bias on serving and eating behavior.” Journal of Consumer Research 39.2 (2012): 215-228.

Wansink, Brian, James E. Painter, and Yeon-Kyung Lee. “The office candy dish: proximity’s influence on estimated and actual consumption.” International journal of obesity 30.5 (2006): 871-875.

Wansink, Brian, Koert Van Ittersum, and James E. Painter. “Ice cream illusions: bowls, spoons, and self-served portion sizes.” American journal of preventive medicine 31.3 (2006): 240-243.

 

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