Want to drop pounds? Changing your environment — not necessarily your diet — may be the answer. Try these low- and no-cost tweaks from the October issue of Self magazine, on newsstands now.
Leave dinner behind: Sidestep the tendency to go for seconds by serving yourself before you sit down. In preliminary research, Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, found that women who plated their food at the counter ate 10 percent less than those who ate family style. One exception: Keep those healthy greens on the table.
Your dining area
Add a bouquet: A whiff of flowers may keep you from overindulging at supper. Smelling something inconsistent with what’s on your plate dampens your appetite, research shows. No need for unappetizing combinations, but some slight sensory confusion might help you limit portions.
Dim the lights: Bright lights can cause you to dine quickly, Wansink says, so you end up finishing off a mega-portion before you have the chance to feel full. Swap your light switch for a dimmer.
Pare down big buys: Shopping in bulk saves cash, but it can add calories. People faced with a gallon-size bowl of Chex Mix ate 56 percent more than those given a half-gallon one, according to a study by Wansink.
Shrink bowls and spoons: We match our portions to our dinnerware. “A half cup of ice cream looks good in an 8-ounce bowl but wimpy in a 16-ounce one,” Wansink said. Size even fools the pros: Food experts ate more when they were served with bigger bowls and spoons.
Put produce up front: The more prominently a food is placed, the more likely you are to choose it, said Wansink. Dieters lost nearly a pound in a month by storing their fruit and veggies on the middle shelf. Try it with easy-to-eat carrots and berries.
Conceal leftovers: You skipped that last slice of pizza to save calories, but every time you open the fridge, it calls your name. Stash it in a fridge drawer or wrap it in foil to help you resist it until it’s mealtime again.