22 Ways To Help Your Mindset and Feel Full

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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. Essentially, losing weight comes down to three main factors: exercise, food, and mindset. Your brain doesn't have to sabotage your diet; in fact, there are plenty of ways to change the way you think about achieving your weight-loss goals. Read on for a rundown of proven ways to manage the way you eat.

Mindset can be the most challenging weight loss blocker 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.

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'll have a way to silence a grumbling stomach until you can have your next full meal.

Keep a Journal

Keeping a daily food journal is one of the ways that you can note what foods make you feel full. Writing down what you eat makes you more aware of food choices so you can eat more of the foods that help you feel full longer. As a result, keeping track of those foods can help you manage your weight overall.

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.

According to a 2022 review, drinking coffee acts as a natural appetite suppressant and increases the breakdown of fat. However, the benefits of coffee are only effective with black coffee; adding sugar and cream will lower the coffee perks.

Still, you'll want to ensure that you eat if you feel hungry; you don't want to only rely on coffee to fill you up. Consider pairing your coffee with oatmeal, fruit, or yogurt to help with satiation.

Count Your Bites

Counting calories can help with weight loss, but it can also be time-consuming (and to some, frustrating) to jot it all down. Try counting your bites instead.

A 2021 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics examined how the presence of a technology that provides bite count feedback might alter eating behavior. They found that providing feedback on the number of bites taken can help reduce overall intake during a single meal. Ultimately, keeping track of your bites may help you be more mindful of how much you're eating at a meal.

Three's the Charm

Whether it's a gooey brownie or a plate of cheesy nachos, go ahead and indulge—but limit yourself to three bites, Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, a New Jersey–based registered dietitian, told Health. "Slowly savor those three bites and you should be satisfied," added Harris-Pincus.

While showing enough restraint to only take three bites may seem off-putting, there is a method to the concept. Harris-Pincus explained the first bite will most likely live up to your expectations, but the second might not 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.

This method can be especially beneficial if you're eating but not really hungry. However, if you truly are hungry, take the three bites but add a healthier, more filling option to what you've eaten.

Serve Yourself Directly From the Pot

Rather than leaving serving dishes at the table where you can easily dip in for seconds or thirds, leave them in the kitchen—otherwise overeating can be too convenient to resist. If you have to physically get up and walk to the kitchen for another helping, you're less likely to do so unless you are truly still hungry for seconds.

Create Obstacles

Not only should you make sure overindulging isn't convenient, but you should also create actual barriers between you and your food.

The simple act of unwrapping a piece of chocolate can be enough to keep you from eating more than you truly want. So go for other challenges—snack on foods that take more effort to eat (like shelled nuts, edamame, or fruit with a peel).

Another obstacle you can create for yourself is keeping snacks that won't help you achieve your goals out of sight. For example, make it more challenging to eat by keeping them on the highest shelf of your pantry rather than leaving them out in the open.

Instead, display snacks that align with your goals. For example, place a bowl on your kitchen counter and fill it with nutritious oranges, bananas, and apples.

Go for Smaller Portions

If food is on your plate, you'll probably end up eating every last morsel. The solution is simple: Serve yourself less food. Then go back for more if you're still hungry.

Eating off smaller plates could also help with portion control. Having a smaller surface area would prompt you to serve yourself less food and curb overeating.

Furthermore, 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.

Create an Optical Illusion

You could also choose plates that are close in color to your tablecloth or placemat, so they blend together. According to a 2012 study in Journal of Consumer Research, people who did so ended up serving themselves less. Researchers believe a monochromatic palette is a disorienting visual cue, making you warier of piling your plate with food.

Moderate Your Screen Time

Another 2022 Public Health Nutrition study focused on personal motivation, barriers to self-regulation, and weight loss strategies of individuals who were overweight and obese. The researchers indicated that overeating triggers included media-based ones like scrolling through social media and watching television while eating.

While you might be taking all the steps to set yourself to meet your weight loss goals, your favorite cooking show or foodie on social media could be sabotaging your best efforts.

If you step away from technology, you can truly savor your food and avoid mindless munching. Simply redirecting your focus can allow you to feel way more satisfied without overeating.

Be Prepared Before Grocery Shopping

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that it's a good idea to plan your meals and make a shopping list before going to the grocery store. Additionally, rather than buying in bulk, only shop for the groceries you'll need for the week.

As Keri Gans, RDN, told Health: "Psychologically, you can feel pressure to eat when there's a lot of food in the house." If you have just enough food to last until your next weekly shop, you're more likely to stick to controlled portions.

Try not to go shopping when you're hungry; this can help you avoid picking up extra food that's not on your list. Thus, it's also important to eat before heading to the grocery store.

Slow Down

Digesting food and nutrients is one part of your metabolism. Beyond having negative effects on your metabolism, a 2021 review published in Frontiers in Nutrition noted that eating quickly doesn't give your brain enough time register that your belly is actually full.

Let your body realize you've feasted sufficiently by slowing the pace. Also, don't let family or friends speed up your meal. Help each other out by consciously slowing down. You'll end up eating less food and feeling more satisfied.

Don't Show Up Hungry to a Party

Show up to a social gathering on an empty stomach, and you'll wind up making a meal of whatever is available—and party fare is not always the healthiest.

Plus, it's tough to know how much 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.

Drink (and Eat) More Water

Drinking an entire glass of water before every meal helps to fill your belly, so you'll likely end up eating less than you otherwise would have. During your meal, taking sips in between bites will help slow your pace and eat less overall while still feeling full.

However, drinking water isn't the only way to stay hydrated and satisfied. Water-rich foods can also do the trick, Rima Kleiner, LDN, a Greensboro, NC–based nutrition expert, told Health. "High-water foods also tend to be loaded with dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals like potassium." Pile your plate high with foods like cucumbers, lettuce, and green peppers.

Make Your Eating Zone Zen

It might be time for a kitchen detox. According to a 2019 study in Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal, your external environment can define your emotions about eating and influence your nervous system—meaning that a stressful environment can make for a stressful eating experience.

So, scan your kitchen or dining room for anything that might be affecting any good vibes like bills, to-do lists, or mail, and tidy up the space.

Switch Up Your Sandwich

Sandwiches are a lunch staple. Instead of opting for a white bread roll, swap in whole wheat or whole grain bread.

To reduce even more calories, make a tasty lettuce wrap. Exchange some of the ingredients in your sandwich for vegetables (e.g., lettuce, tomato, onions).

Give in (Sometimes)

Another way to help your body feel satisfied rather than deprived is to actually give in to your sweet tooth.

In an interview with Health, personal trainer and certified nutrition and wellness consultant 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.

Show Yourself That Healthy Food Is Filling and Appetizing

Nutritious foods often get a bad reputation for keeping your belly grumbling. But you can remind yourself that healthy food is filling and delicious if you keep calorie density in mind when making your food choices.

Calorie density refers to how many calories are included in a specific amount of food. Foods that are low in calorie density are typically ones that contain mostly water (e.g., oranges or lettuce) or fiber combined with low-fat content. These low-calorie-dense foods not only have fewer calories, but they also can help you feel satisfied.

Preparing low-density foods the way you like them may help you eat more of them too. If you find that healthier foods are a little bland, you can try different spices or recipes to add to the flavor of what you're eating, like adding a lemon garlic sauce to broccoli or red pepper flakes to steamed kale.

Get Artsy

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.

In a 2014 Flavour study, researchers 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.

With that in mind, you may want to satisfy your belly as much as your eyes by upping your plating skills.

Ditch Artificial Sweetners

Consuming foods or drinks with artificial sweeteners, or nonnutritive sweeteners, over a long period of time can have a negative effect on fullness, according a review published in Endocrine Practice in 2021. Essentially, the sweeteners can cause issues with the hunger hormones (leptin and ghrelin) that work together to signal the body that it's full.

Additionally, sipping diet drinks and "sugar-free" snacks might help you lose weight in the short term, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—but the long-term weight loss effects are still in question.

Plan Out Your Restaurant Meal

Most restaurants post their menus online, so save yourself the stress of choosing a dish on the spot by picking out your order ahead of time. If you wait until you're sitting at your table to view the menu, then your hungry belly and peer pressure from those joining you for the meal may mean choosing the side of fries over the side of a baked potato.

Also, you can ask your server for a box before you dig in; that way, you can go ahead and box up part of your meal when it's served. Not only will you instantly have leftovers for the next day, but you'll also remove any temptation to devour your high-calorie restaurant-sized portion.

You can also ask your dinner partner to split a meal with you instead. Restaurant portions are typically so huge to begin with that neither of you will likely feel hungry after the plate is clean.

Scope Out Hidden Added Sugar

As of 2018, according to the CDC, American adults aged 20 and older consumed an average of 17 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 weight loss such a challenge.

Also, sugar is added not just to sweet-tasting foods like cookies and candy, but also to breads, sauces, dressings, condiments, and more. Therefore, you'll want to read labels wisely.

The Nutrition Facts label can show you how many grams of added sugar are in foods. Also, within 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.

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Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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