27 Ways To Help Yourself Feel Full

Drop pounds and slim down with these helpful tips.

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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.

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 sabotage your diet; 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 manage the way you eat.

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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.

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Keep a Journal

Keeping a daily food journal is one of the ways that you can monitor what makes you full. Writing down what you eat makes you more aware of food choices, which therefore encourages cutting the calories you'd otherwise sneak in and, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), help you manage your weight overall.

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Put a Mirror in Your Dining Room

Watching yourself eat junk food with a mirror in your line of sight triggers discomfort, since you're suddenly very aware of the unhealthy choice. So if you're seeking an easy way to boost your weight-loss goals, consider picking up a new decorative mirror for your dining room or kitchen. It could help you literally watch what you eat.

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Pick Your Handbag Wisely

Carry a clutch whenever you attend a party where there's food. Since you'll only have one free hand, it'll be harder to mindlessly snag unhealthy bites, explained Jessica Dogert, RDN, dietitian at Fitness Formula Clubs Lincoln Park in Chicago, in a previous interview with Health.

To really keep yourself from reaching for a treat, hold a drink (one not loaded with sugar) in your other hand. Of course, this doesn't mean you need to totally deprive yourself at social gatherings, but keeping your hands full will force you to make more deliberate, mindful food choices.

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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 GSC Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences 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 your coffee perks.

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Count Your Bites

Counting calories can help you slim down, but it can also be time-consuming (and to some, frustrating) to jot down every bite. Try counting your bites instead.

A December 2021 study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research noted that engaging in this activity while you eat can help you determine if you're eating too little or too much. Ultimately, this can help you be more mindful of how much you're eating, which may help you drop pounds.

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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," Harris-Pincus added.

While showing enough restraint to only take three bites may seem offputting, there is a method to the concept. 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.

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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 is simply 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.

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Create Obstacles

Not only should you make sure overindulging isn't convenient, 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 unhealthy snacks out of sight. For example, make it more challenging to eat by keeping hiding them away on the highest shelf of your pantry rather than leaving them out in the open.

Instead, you should proudly display your healthy snacks. For example, place a bowl on your kitchen counter and fill it with nutritious oranges, bananas, and apples.

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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 and consequently more likely to drop those unwanted pounds.

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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 an August 2012 study in Journal of Consumer Research, those who did so ended up serving themselves less. Researchers believe a monochromatic palette is a disorienting visual cue, making you more wary of piling your plate with food.

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Moderate Your Screen Time

A February 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 triggers like scrolling through social media and watching television while eating.

So, while you might be taking all the steps to set yourself up for weight loss success, 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 will allow you to feel way more satisfied with even less food. Additionally, consider unfollowing any foodie accounts—or at least stick to healthy food bloggers for some nutritious inspiration.

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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.

Additioinally, rather than buying in bulk, only shop for the groceries you'll need for the week. While this may seem inconvenient, consider this: studies have shown that stockpiling food means eating the supply twice as fast anyway. As Keri Gans, RDN, previously explained to Health: "Psychologically, you can feel pressure to eat when there's a lot of food in the house." So if you have just enough food to last until your next weekly shop, you're more likely to stick to controlled portions.

The CDC also mentioned that you don't want to go shopping when you're hungry; thus, it's also important to eat before heading to the grocery store.

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Slow Down

Scarfing down your dinner doesn't give your brain enough time register that your belly is actually stuffed. 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.

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Never 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 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.

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Select Water Options in Drinks and Food

Drinking an entire glass of water before every meal fills 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. What's more, staying hydrated boosts your metabolism—making water better than any "diet" beverage out there.

However, downing 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 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.

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Make Your Eating Zone Zen

It might be time for a kitchen detox. According to an August 2019 Intergrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal study, the author noted that "The external environment characterizes emotions about eating and influences the 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.

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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. The CDC also suggested exchanging some of the ingredients in your sandwich for vegetables (e.g., lettuce, tomato, onions).

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Give In (Sometimes)

Another way to trick your body into feeling satisfied rather than deprived is to actually give in to your sweet tooth.

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.

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Don't Let Yourself off the Hook

It can be easy to allow yourself "one little treat" which later turns into two, or even three if you're not careful.

To lessen the temptation, save all the wrappers from your sweet treats in a jar, advised Susan Albers, PsyD, author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food ($19; 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 and getting full from too many sweets.

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Remind Yourself That Healthy Food Is Filling

Nutritious foods often get a bad reputation for keeping your belly grumbling. However, keep reminding yourself that healthy food is just as filling—if not more so—than fatty, sugary eats. Change your perspective and you'll be on the path to a healthy diet and weight in no time.

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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 June 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.

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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.

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Ditch Artificial Sweeteners

Sipping diet drinks and "sugar-free" snacks won't help you lose weight. In fact, statistically, people who drink diet beverages are not slimmer than those who don't. Scientists say that fake sugars activate the brain's pleasure center without actually satisfying it, which triggers an increased desire for sweets.

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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 grumbling belly and peer pressure from those joining you for the meal may mean choosing the side of fries over the side of steamed broccoli.

Also, whenever you decide to eat at a restaurant, ask for your server to box up half of the portion before you even dig in. Not only will you instantly have leftovers for the next day, you'll also remove any temptation to devour your high-calorie restaurant-sized portion.

However, if asking your server to box up half your meal before you even touch it is a little too awkward for you, then ask your dinner partner to split a meal with you instead. Restaurant portions are typically so huge to begin with that neither of you should feel hungry after the plate's clean.

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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.

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Wear a Belt

Save yoga pants for the gym, and wear belted pants to the table instead. Form-fitting clothes serve as a prompt to slow down your eating and assess how full you are during a meal. As your clothes start to feel snug, it will make you think twice before going back for seconds.

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