49 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Feel full for longer
Let's face it—there's no single, magical way to lose weight. Everyone's body is different, which means everyone's optimal diet is also different. But essentially, losing weight comes down to three main factors: exercise, food, and mindset. That last one can be the most challenging to conquer. Our brains, more often than not, get in the way of our weight loss goals, and make us think we're hungry when in reality we're just bored, tired, dehydrated, or something else. But your brain doesn't have to be a diet saboteur; in fact, there are plenty of ways to manipulate yourself into achieving your weight-loss goals. Read on for a rundown of proven ways to eat less, painlessly.
Keep a healthy snack on hand
Fast food or something from a vending machine may call your name when hunger strikes on the go. But if you keep a healthy snack like an apple or granola bar in your bag or glove compartment, you won't have to sacrifice your diet to silence a grumbling stomach. Even if you pass an ice cream shop when your hunger pangs strike, you should be safe: a study published in the journal Appetite found when people are craving something unhealthy, they'll still snack on whatever food is most accessible.
Keep a journal
Just keep chewing
Put a mirror in your dining room
Pick your handbag wisely
Curb hunger with coffee
You may think you're just drinking your daily cup of joe for a morning pick-me-up, but in reality, it's doing more than just giving you a caffeine boost. Drinking coffee can actually boost your calorie burn by 12%, according to findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Plus, it's a natural appetite suppressant. But be wary of adding sugar and cream, since too many extras will kill your coffee perks.
Count your bites
Three's the charm
Whether it's a gooey brownie a plate of cheesy nachos, go ahead and indulge—but limit yourself to three bites, advised Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, New Jersey–based registered dietitian, in an earlier interview with Health. "Slowly savor those three bites and you should be satisfied." While showing enough restraint to only take three bites may seem insane, there is a method to her madness. Harris-Pincus explained the first bite will most likely live up to your expectations, but the second won't be as good as the first. By the time you get to the third bite, remind yourself it's not going to get any tastier, so you might as well quit while you're ahead.
Serve yourself directly from the pot
Hide your unhealthy munchies
A Cornell Food and Brand Lab study found that women who stored soft drinks on the counter weighed 24 to 26 pounds more than women whose counters were free of sugary beverages. Similarly, women who displayed cereal boxes on the counter were, on average, 20 pounds heavier than those who didn't. So rather than leave your snacks out in the open, make it more challenging to eat by keeping hiding them away on the highest shelf of your pantry.
Stock your fruit bowl
Start out with a smaller portion
If food is on your plate, you'll probably end up eating every last morsel, according to a Cornell Food and Brand Lab study. But these findings don't mean your diet goals are hopeless—in fact, this knowledge can help you outsmart your own appetite. The solution is simple: serve yourself less food. Then go back for more if you're still hungry.
Swap out your dishware
Do some re-organizing
To make sure you actually reach for those smaller plates, make them super-accessible by moving them to your cabinet's bottom shelf. Doing so will make you more likely to use them, and consequently more likely to drop those unwanted pounds.
Create an optical illusion
Supersize your fork
Plates aren't the only dinnerware you can use to your advantage; the size of your fork could also affect how much you eat. One study found that people who used larger forks ate about 10% less food than those who used small ones. Researchers believe that since the food is gone quicker, your brain is tricked into thinking your belly's filling up faster.
Eat a breakfast of champions
Filling up on a hearty morning meal makes you less prone to snacking and overindulging later in the day. One study found that women who ate a large breakfast (around 700 calories) had a greater drop in ghrelin (the hunger hormone) than women who ate a smaller breakfast. Plus, eating a tasty meal in the a.m. will keep you from feeling deprived the rest of the day.
Eat dessert after breakfast
Skip the cooking shows
Eat before grocery shopping
We've all heard this advice many times before, but it's worth repeating: never grocery shop on an empty stomach. In fact, research from Cornell University found that skipping meals before going hitting the supermarket leads to unhealthy purchases. The participants who fasted beforehand bought 18.6% more food than those who ate before the trip. Plus, the same group bought 44.8% more unhealthy products like chips and ice cream. Lesson learned: grab a snack, like an easy energy bar before you hit the market.
Choose your snack wisely
It's important to eat before heading to the grocery store—but what you choose to chow on is just as influential. One study showed that people who ate an apple before heading to the story bought 25% more produce than those who ate a cookie.
Never show up hungry to a party
Show up to a soirée on an empty stomach, and you'll wind up making a meal of whatever is available—and let's face it, party fare is not the healthiest (hello, pigs in a blanket). Plus, it's tough to track how muck you're actually eating when all the food is bite-sized. To avoid overdoing it with party snacks, make sure to eat a healthy, protein-packed meal ahead of time.
Go for H2O
Eat your water
Downing water isn't the only way to stay hydrated and satisfied. Water-rich foods can also do the trick, Rima Kleiner, RD, a Greensboro, NC–based nutrition expert, told Health in a previous interview. "High-water foods also tend to be loaded with dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals like potassium." So pile your plate high with foods like cucumbers, lettuce, and green peppers.
Request a tall glass
Sleep before you snack
When your body gets tired, it has one burning desire: carbs. But pre-bedtime snacks can do a number on your waistline. Intercept your cravings with one simple tactic: just go to sleep! Hitting the hay doesn't just stave off midnight snacking; one study showed that when people slept just four hours a night, the rate at which they processed calories from glucose fell by 40%. In other words, catching those z's could help you majorly slim-down (don't mind if we do!).
Make your eating zone Zen
Stop fearing full-fat dairy
Why waste calories on a bland stick of fat-free cheese? Instead, truly satisfy your craving with a flavorful full-fat variety. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed not only that an increase in eating full-fat dairy led to neither weight gain nor weight loss, consuming more low-fat products was associated with increased carb consumption, which may promote weight gain. Looking for some delicious ways to incorporate full-fat dairy? Try Greek yogurt, it's creamy, tasty and packs a big dose of protein.
Switch up your sandwich
Sandwiches are a lunch staple, but if you change things up with your hoagie, you could save major calories. Try making an open-face sandwich, with only one slice of whole-wheat bread. It will cut 100 calories from your meal, but your brain will still feel like you ate a satisfying sandwich. To reduce even more cals and carbs, make a tasty lettuce wrap.
Focus on food
Play on your phone
Say "I don't"
Give in (sometimes)
Another way to trick your body into feeling satisfied rather than deprived is to actually give in to your sweet tooth. Yes, you heard that right. In a previous interview with Health, fitness guru Jillian Michaels explained: "Depriving a sweet tooth is a recipe for disaster. Don't cut things out so you binge later. Instead, try allotting up to a fifth of your daily calorie allowance to the sweet of your choice." So go ahead, have that square of dark chocolate—it'll keep you from chowing down a pint of ice cream later.
Don't let yourself off the hook
It can be easy to allow yourself âone little treat" which later turns into two, or even three if you're not careful. To combat this convenient amnesia, save all the wrappers from your sweet treats in a jar, advises Susan Albers, PsyD, author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food ($12; amazon.com). With a visual reminder of how many times you've splurged, you're more likely to think twice about caving to cravings again.
Un-follow all foodies
Who doesn't love browsing pictures of scrumptious food on Instagram? After all, you get to drool over decadent images without actually hurting your diet, right? Not quite. According to a recent study published in Brain and Cognition, scrolling through food porn can actually trigger a need to feast , even if you're not at all hungry. So do yourself a favor: un-follow those foodie accounts ASAP. Or at least stick to healthy food bloggers for some nutritious inspiration.
Remind yourself healthy food is filling
We eat with our eyes just as much as our stomachs—meaning it's important to put as much thought into the meal presentation as the food itself. But could beautiful plating actually lead to eating less? A University of Oxford study served one group an artistically arranged salad, another group a neatly lined-up plate of veggies, and a third group a disorganized pile of greens. The three salads contained identical ingredients, but the artistic one was rated the most delicious. The verdict: satisfy your belly as much as your eyes by upping your plating skills.
Do your research
Record your triumphs
Each time you successfully combat a craving, write it down on an index card or post-it note. "You need to do this 15 times in a row before you'll be able to conquer any craving," Judith Beck, PhD, director of the Beck Institute of Cognitive Therapy and Research, told Health in a previous interview. "On the reverse side of the card, write down some affirmations to remind yourself why you should resist." These positive reminders will keep your mind and body in check.
Ditch artificial sweeteners
Box up your restaurant meal
Go halfsies at a meal
Scope out hidden sugar
The average U.S. adult eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day. That's any sugar added to foods by you—think stirring sugar into your coffee—or by food manufacturers. It's the second category that can make dropping pounds such a challenge. Sugar is added not just to sweet-tasting foods like cookies and candy, but also breads, sauces, dressings, condiments, and more. So read labels wisely: product-makers aren't required to separate out "added sugar" from the kind that occurs naturally (like in fruit). On the list of ingredients, look for sugar, as well as brown sugar, corn syrup, maltose, fructose, dextrose, molasses, agave, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, cane syrup, and evaporated cane juice.
Get a soup and sandwich combo
Soup and a sandwich can certainly make for a healthy lunch—just make sure you eat all your soup before noshing on the sandwich. A study published in Appetite found people who ate a serving of soup before the rest of their meal ended up cutting their calorie intake by 20%. While the study didn't specify the type of soup, it's best to skip those creamy chowders and stick with broth-based, veggie-filled soups.