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The more you buy, the more you'll eat. One study found that people eat 22 percent more in the same amount of time when food is purchased in larger packages. A better choice? Single-serving packages (see the yogurt containers above), which help keep you from overdoing it.
Nuking dinner is easier than chop-season- and-sauté, but it could leave you hungry. Alan Hirsch, M.D., director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, has found that smelling food during cooking can actually make you more satisfied—and lead you to eat less once your meal hits the table. Still don't want to cook? At least put your frozen dinner in the oven instead of the microwave.
If the bread basket comes with butter, you'll likely eat more—29 percent more, to be exact—than if it's served with olive oil, research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found. Ask for olive oil instead.
Remember Wansink's study: If you see food, you want to eat it. Try to face away, and ask yourself the crucial question: Am I actually still hungry?
Menus with two or more panels take longer to read, says Gregg Rapp, a California-based "menu engineer" and restaurant consultant. The longer you eye the choices, the more you're likely to order—and eat, he says. Pick an entreé and put the menu down.
Even experts can't gauge healthy portions on the gargantuan dishes commonly used today: When 85 dietitians in one study were given 17-ounce or 34-ounce bowls, those with bigger dishes served themselves 31 percent more ice cream. At home, use smaller plates, and when you eat out, picture your food on them.
One study found that people ate 27 percent more when empty plates were cleared quickly. But when you can see how much you've actually already eaten, you're less likely to keep on going, says Wansink.
Using bigger utensils that are trendy now can make you chow more too. "People who eat with smaller spoons tend to feel more satisfied after one serving than those who use bigger silverware," says Illinois food researcher James Painter, Ph.D.
Believe it or not, companies pay for prime placement in your supermarket, says Marion Nestle, Ph.D., a nutrition professor at New York University and author of What to Eat. And the products in these line-of-sight spots tend to be high-profit, cheaper-to-produce items like sugary cereals and processed carbohydrates that aren't always weight-friendly, she says. Nestle's recommendation: Look up. The healthiest foods are often stocked on the store's top shelves.
Like eye-level shelf spots, these "end cap" placements are paid for and often stocked with less-healthy items, Nestle says. They're highly visible, so you're more likely to buy these foods on impulse—whether you like what you see on the nutrition label or not.
Think about the supermarket as one big square: What's almost always on the side aisles? The healthiest, most nutrient-rich fresh foods like fruits, veggies, dairy and meats. It's the center aisles that tend to be loaded with binge-worthy processed snacks and sweets, says Nestle.
Call it the Stepford Wives effect: The easy-listening tunes many stores pipe in slow you down, says Nestle. And the longer you shop, the more likely you are to fill your cart with junk, she warns. Avoid the trance by taking your healthy shopping list with you. Then stick to it.
Studies show that subliminal cues at restaurants can prompt you to eat more. Here's what to do the next time you hit your neighborhood diner:Sit at a table, not a booth. A spot that's tucked away promotes privacy, comfort and the desire to stay (and eat) longer, says Stephani Robson, a senior lecturer at Cornell's School of Hotel Administration. If you're in the mood for coziness, go ahead and nab a booth—just don't be lulled into eating more food.
Ask for olive oil with your bread. If the bread basket comes with butter, you'll likely eat more—29 percent more to be exact—than if it's served with olive oil, a study showed.
Ignore food pictures. You know those "table tent" advertisements with pictures of gorgeous desserts and calorie-packed special cocktails? It's a biological fact: You see food, you want to eat it. So face photos away from you—or ask your server to skip bringing the dessert tray.
Choose your entree, then put the menu down. Menus with two or more panels take longer to read, says Gregg Rapp, a "menu engineer" and restaurant consultant based in California. The longer you eye the list of choices, the more food you're likely to order—and eat, he says.
Politely say no to your server. We're all for great service, but when your helpful waiter suggests "Can I start you off with a drink?" or "What kind of appetizer would you like?" the question is not if, but what you'll be ordering, says Rupert Spies, a senior lecturer at Cornell's School of Hotel Administration. "No thanks" or "I'll start with my entree" are perfectly good answers.
Visualize the smaller portions you eat at home. Even experts can't gauge healthy portion sizes when they are given large dishes to eat from: When 85 dietitians in one study were given 17-ounce or 34-ounce bowls, those with bigger dishes served themselves 31 percent more ice cream. When you're out, picture your food on the smaller plates we're sure you use at home.
Don't be fooled by a neat, tidy table.
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One study found that people ate 27 percent more when empty plates were cleared quickly. But when you can see how much you've actually eaten, you're less likely to keep on going, says food psychologist Brian Wansink, Ph.D.