When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, we’ll take all the help we can get — but the truth of the matter is, the bazillion radical eating plans and crash diets that are constantly circulating the internet aren’t really helping things. Sure, the Master Cleanse might work for Beyoncé, however the majority of us need more than lemon water and maple syrup to get through our day-to-day lives, thank you very much.
The good news? You don’t have to go to great lengths to make real progress. Realistic lifestyle tweaks are the way to go when it comes to losing weight.
We put together a few mind tricks that you can use to lose and/or maintain your weight. Turns out, there are many ways to fool yourself into a fitter body.
1. Grab a pen
Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Plant-Powered for Life, said that food journals have been proven to aid in weight loss. “You’d be surprised how much you eat during the day if you have to write it down,” she said. Going digital? Check out online journaling apps.
More: What Is a Macro Diet?
2. Bag everything
For a day, put everything you would eat in a bag. You can also guesstimate the calories to see how much you will save if you stop noshing on extras and leftovers.
3. Ditch serving utensils
To dish food up in smaller portions, it is a good idea to use regular utensils instead of using ones that let you pile on more food easily. Less scoops, fewer calories!
4. Go 80 percent
Palmer said the Japanese technique of eating until you’re 80 percent full — dubbed hara hachi bu — is customary in the country, where people weigh less than Americans. “It’s considered distasteful to stuff yourself in Japanese culture, so people do not eat until they feel entirely full,” Palmer said. “It does take a while for your brain to get the signals that you’re full, so try this. Leave the table a little bit hungry.”
5. Rethink your dishes
Fill up your plates at the counter, rather than eating family style at the dinner table. Studies show people eat less that way. Also, white plates with colorful food lead to less consumption, studies have shown. Sharing plates is another way to cut down on the amount of food you consume, as is using smaller plates. Or, try a portion plate.
6. Drink smart
“Don’t waste calories on beverages,” Palmer said, adding that studies have shown they don’t produce the same sense of fullness as eating the same calories in food. “The more fiber in the food, the more filling.”
7. Talk yourself into it
Don’t feel like eating veggies or doing another healthy thing? Recognize it and tell yourself that you are choosing to do it. That subtle mental shift could have some positive impacts.
Originally posted February 2015. Updated October 2017.