Use the Restaurant Rule of Two
“Order any entrée you want when eating out, but stick to having only two other items total for the evening,” offers Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Cornell University Food & Brand Lab and author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think ($8, amazon.com). For example, in addition to your entrée you could choose to have a soda and a slice of bread or a glass of wine and dessert, but you can’t have them all. “We’ve found that after people have been doing this for a while they just naturally start to make better choices,” says Wansink.
Risk Public Embarrassment
Tell everyone what you’re doing, and you’ll be less likely to slip up. Your pride will get the better of you and you’ll be encouraged to keep pursuing your goal, says registered dietician Elizabeth Somer, author of Eat Your Way to Sexy: Reignite Your Passion, Look Ten Years Younger, and Feel Happier Than Ever ($17, amazon.com).
Know When You’re at Your Weakest
Determine when you’re most likely to give in to temptation, then use the knowledge to your advantage. “I had one patient who had great results from setting her smartphone to send her a message each day at her most vulnerable time—after dinner, at 9 p.m., while watching TV,” says Lawrence Cheskin, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore. The message the woman sent herself (and signed from her 6-year-old son): “Mom! Don't eat all the snacks—save some for me! Love, Eric.” Send yourself an electronic reminder, or even have a family member or friend give you a call to help you stay on track.
Trick Yourself Into Eating Less
“Certain aromas—specifically banana, green apple, and peppermint—cause us to eat less by inducing sensory-specific satiety,” says Alan Hirsch, M.D., director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago and a neurologist who studies the effects of smell and taste on emotion. Basically, your brain tells you to stop eating because the scent causes you to feel satisfied. Other strategies that have been shown to reduce your intake of food: Hang a mirror opposite where you eat to create more body awareness, and eat from a blue plate, which makes food look less appealing.
Avoid Multitasking During Meals
“Stay mindful of every bite and sip and cognizant of your level of fullness and satisfaction,” says registered dietician Bethany Thayer, director of wellness programs and strategies at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (eatright.org). Lose focus on your meal and you risk overeating. That means no talking on the phone, no watching TV, and no eating at the kitchen counter while cleaning up.
Find more tips on:
How to save money
How to reduce stress
How to drink less
How to get in better shape
How to get ahead at work
How to improve your relationships