Chew SlowerWe don't realize how fast we tend to eat. Most of us eat hurriedly -- between errands, in the car, during a work break. It becomes such a habit, by the time we get home, we don't slow down. When you have the opportunity to eat a meal at your leisure, do just that. By chewing more slowly, your digestive process gets a chance to work properly, you will be able to savor your food, and you'll be more likely to stop eating when you feel sated.
Color Me HungryDid you know that certain colors may influence your appetite? For example, when eating from a red plate, you may actually eat more than if you were eating from a darker plate. The color of your kitchen may influence your eating, too. Reds, oranges and yellows as wall colors may have an appetite-stimulating effect (Ever noticed how brightly-decorated your favorite fast food eatery is?). Consider switching to cool colors like light blue or mint green.
De-stress Before DinnerBefore sitting down for your evening meal, take a moment to relax with deep breathing, listening to a favorite calming CD, or taking a leisurely walk. You will do yourself and your digestive system a favor by eating in a more relaxed state. Stress also tends to cause overeating, so chilling out before your meal will help you better know when to say when.
Down Some H2OSkip the diet soda and drink a tall glass of cold water before your meals. Doing so may help you feel fuller and prevent overeating. Plus, drinking ice-cold water may actually give your metabolism a tiny boost.
Clear the AreaOnce you are done eating, take a break in another room. The dishes can wait. Taking a moment to change gears -- such as, reading the paper or petting your dog -- will be a signal that you are absolutely done eating; sitting at the table to peruse the paper or continue a conversation may lead you to pick at leftovers or clean off your child's plate.
Don't MultitaskMake it a point to avoid doing other activities while you are eating, such as reading a magazine or watching television. You will pay little attention to portion control and you will be less likely to notice when you begin to feel full.
Plus, eating while you are doing that activity may become habit: For example, each time you watch television, you will automatically reach for a snack. Watching your favorite show -- what could be a calorie-free treat -- could then lead to weight gain.
Keep Food in its PlaceTry to eat only at your kitchen table or dining table. You will eat less -- and less often -- if you do not allow yourself to take food into the rest of the house, such as the living area or bedroom.
Downsize Your DishesUsing a smaller plate really can help you eat less. A study proved that even nutrition experts consumed more food when they ate from larger dishes and used oversized serving utensils. If they didn't notice they were eating more, how will the rest of us? Try using a salad plate for your dinner plate and your portions may downsize, too.
Soup and Salad for StartersEnjoy a small bowl of broth-based soup or a veggie-filled salad before your largest meal (typically dinner). If you are particularly hungry, try both. Soup will take a while to eat, which will allow it time to take the edge off your appetite; fiber-rich vegetables are naturally filling and will help you eat less later on.
Keep Seconds Out of SightEven if you know you are probably going to eat two servings of a particular food -- such as bread -- start out by putting only one slice on your plate. If you have to stop and think before you go back and get that second helping, you will be more likely to consider doing without it. If it is already sitting on your plate, it's most likely a done deal.
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Wansink B, van Ittersum K, Painter J. "Ice Cream Illusions: Bowls, Spoons, and Self-Served Portion Sizes". American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2006;31(3):24–243.