7 useful tips for controlling how much you eat

October 9, 2015

Looking to lose weight? Simply eating less by consuming reasonably sized portions is probably the most direct way to achieve your goals, apart from increasing your overall activity. Here are seven tips to help you out, from eating alone to changing the colour of your dishware.

7 useful tips for controlling how much you eat

1. Keep your meals simple

The more variety you're offered in a meal, the more you'll be inclined to eat. In fact, the science backs up this statement:

  • In a recent study, subjects were given either one type of yogurt or three, and ate as much as they wanted. Those people who were given three types ate 23 per cent more than the ones who were offered only one type.

The lesson here? Don't overload your meals with several side dishes, appetizers and desserts.

  • Keep things simple on your plate and you'll probably consume fewer calories.

2. Eat alone or with just one other person

Researchers find that meals eaten with one other person are one-third larger than those eaten alone. In addition, the amount increases as the number of people you're eating with goes up.

  • By the time you sit down to dine with six people, for example, you're eating 72 per cent more than if you'd just eaten alone.

Food is often an important part of social engagements, but you can help shed lots of unwanted weight simply by eating alone before you leave the house.

  • If you're attending a dinner party, don't eat so much at home beforehand that you're stuffed and can't eat another morsel at the host's home. Simply nibble on smaller portions and avoid appetizers.

3. Don’t read or watch TV while eating

Distractions such as television, reading and even sporting events can take your attention away from what you're eating and actually cause you to eat more.

  • Try not to eat your meals on autopilot. Instead, focus on eating slowly and mindfully. Not only will you consume less, but you'll get to savor and enjoy the food in front of you.

4. Use dishes that are physically smaller

Researchers at Cornell University threw an ice-cream social to test whether oversized bowls and extra-large ice-cream scoops led to overeating.

  • They found that just doubling the size of someone's bowl increased the amount of ice cream people took by 31 per cent. As for the larger scoop It increased the amount of ice cream  consumed by nearly 15 per cent.
  • Despite the larger serving sizes, nearly all participants finished all of the ice cream in their bowls. Similarly, many people unconsciously try to "clean their plate" when eating normal meals. The solution? Use smaller plates!

5. Keep serving bowls smaller too

Rather than piling all of the mashed potatoes into one oversized bowl and bringing it to the table, split it into two bowls.

  • Research has shown that you'll end up eating less when you have smaller amounts of food in front of you.

6. Use chopsticks more often

Although using chopsticks might be messier and they take some practice to use, you'll also eat less.

  • When researchers compared patrons dining in Chinese restaurants, they found that those who were overweight were more likely to be using silverware than chopsticks, while normal-weight patrons chose the more traditional (albeit labour-intensive) option.

7. Add the colour blue to your table

The designers of fast-food restaurants avoid the colour blue like the plague – and for good reason. Blue is known to help suppress the appetite.

  • If you're trying to eat less you could use blue dinner plates, cover the dinner table with a blue tablecloth, and dress in blue as well.
  • Avoid using bright red, yellow and orange in your dining areas, as these colours encourage eating.

When it comes to losing weight there's no replacement for eating healthier foods, consuming reasonable portions and leading a more active lifestyle. Along with this idea, these seven tips can help give you a winning edge in the battle of the bulge.

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