1. Sniff a banana, apple, or peppermint
You might feel silly, but it works. When Dr Alan R. Hirsch of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago tried this with 3,000 volunteers, he found that the more frequently people sniffed, the less hungry they were and the more weight they lost – an average of 30 lb each. One theory is that sniffing the food tricks the brain into thinking you’re actually eating it.
2. Hang a mirror opposite your seat at the table.
One study found that eating in front of mirrors slashed the amount people ate by nearly one-third. Seems having to look yourself in the eye reflects back some of your own inner standards and goals, and reminds you of why you’re trying to lose weight in the first place.
3. Surround yourself with blue
There’s a good reason you won’t see many fast-food restaurants decorated in blue: Believe it or not, the color blue functions as an appetite suppressant. So serve up dinner on blue plates, dress in blue while you eat, and cover your table with a blue tablecloth. Conversely, avoid red, yellow, and orange in your dining areas. Studies find they encourage eating.
4. Shoot your food
Rather than writing down every morsel, take a picture of it, and file the photos on your phone or computer by date. A visual account of your consumption may help you curb your intake. “Snapping photos and then looking back at them can make people stop and think before indulging,” nutritionist Joan Salge Blake says. It needn’t be a big production: your cell phone will do. Think about it: there you are at the salad bar, making a plate of vegetables. Don’t pat yourself on the back quite yet, though. A simple snapshot of your heaping dish may “show your extra helping of cheese or deep-fried croutons,” Joan cautions. A visual reminder might be just enough to give you pause next time before you ladle on the blue cheese dressing.
5. Tie yourself up
You could try fitness guru Valerie Orsoni’s “Le Petit Secret”: “A number of French women wear a ribbon around their waist and underneath their clothes when they go out for dinner. It keeps them conscious of the tummy—particularly if the ribbon starts to feel tighter as the evening goes on!”