By Kristen Maxwell

It may sound too good to be true, but you can trick yourself into eating less. Drop pounds effortlessly with these five stay-slim strategies.


"The amount of food on a plate - whether it's one helping or four - is what most people consider a 'normal' serving," says Jim Painter, Ph.D., R.D., a food psychologist at Eastern Illinois University. His recommendation: Downsize your dishes. "If you have a visual cue that tells you to stop before you get stuffed, you'll eat less but feel just as satisfied."


You may want to record the latest episode of CSI or 24 so you can watch it after you finish dinner. "TV shows that feature murders or medical emergencies tend to remind us of our own mortality," says Dirk Smeesters, Ph.D., an associate professor of marketing at Erasmus University in the Netherlands. "On a subconscious level, this can make some people feel a little depressed or upset - which can then trigger them to eat more food than they normally would."


Chowing down like it's an extreme sport can seriously up your calorie count, according to a new study from the University of Rhode Island. Researchers found that women with a body mass index of 22 (the middle of the "normal" range) who took 20 additional minutes to dine ate 10 percent less food and felt more satisfied than those who finished faster. "It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you're full," says lead researcher Ana M. Andrade. Pile a little less onto your fork and put it down between bites. Then every five minutes or so, reassess whether you're still hungry.


Before grabbing that slice of pound cake to go with your afternoon latte, try recalling everything you ate for lunch that day. In a study published in Physiology & Behavior, adults who wrote down the details of their last meal (like the taste and texture) ate 33 percent less of the snacks they were offered than those who didn't. "Remembering a recent meal could trigger the decision-making area of your brain," says study author Suzanne Higgs, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Birmingham in England. "And that can put the brakes on mindless eating."


In a study conducted by Smeesters, people who were seated in front of a mirror ordered 19 percent less food than those who weren't. "Staring at your reflection makes you more aware of your body and any weight-loss goals you might have," he says. "As a result, you pay closer attention to the amount of food you're eating and push the plate away sooner." No mirror across from your dining room table? Sit in a chair that faces a window so you can catch a glimpse of yourself during dinner.

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