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Healthy Habits: How-Tos

Tricks to Help You Feel Full

How to fool your brain into thinking you couldn’t eat another bite

There’s a reason why it’s so easy to overeat: It takes time for your brain to register that you’re full. And until you get that signal to put the fork down, you’re content to keep on shoveling. While getting your brain and belly on the same page can be challenging, there are mind games you can play to feel sated sooner.

Imagine yourself eating

“Even before you order a meal in a restaurant, quiet your mind and think about what you want to eat,” says nutritionist Susan C. Canonico, R.D. at Summit Medical Group in NJ. “You can think about how it will taste and how full it will make you feel.” Rather than stoking your appetite, visualizing your food in full detail -- the flavor, texture and even the smell -- keeps us from eating as much of it.

Avoid multitasking meals

Canonico tries to avoid business lunches and advises us to do the same. “When you eat at a meeting or at your desk, you shovel food into your mouth without thinking about what you’re eating,” she explains. Likewise for planting yourself in front of the TV with a bag of chips. “You feel hungry after eating because you gave no thought to your meal.  Put your fork down between bites, and enjoy each bite.”

Hydrate before meals

Water can fill you up temporarily. However, “it doesn’t make you feel full for the long haul, because it goes through the body quickly,” cautions Canonico. Take advantage of this window of opportunity by drinking two 8-ounce glasses before every meal. This technique helped dieters lose an extra five pounds over 12 weeks. Just don’t replace your meal with water. Chewing also helps us feel satisfied, says Cononico.

Double down

It doesn't matter if you are 125 pounds or 250; at restaurants, we all get the same gargantuan portion. And research shows most restaurant entrees are at least two times bigger than they should be. With that in mind, eat half and bring the other half home, says Canonico. Box it up beforehand if necessary. In all-you-can-eat situations, take a small plate and circle the buffet before loading up. Both strategies will keep your calorie count down.

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