Getting Your Calorie Count On? How To Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full

February 6, 2013  |  
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The main reason people fail at dieting is that they hate to feel hungry! Feeling hungry is distracting, can put us in a bad mood and make us unable to go about the rest of our day. But, considering that you can eat a giant bowl of pasta and still want more food (admit it: you can), sensations of hunger or fullness don’t originate only in the stomach. The mind is very much at play in determining feelings of being satisfied after a meal. Lucky for you, you can trick your mind.

Eat a piece of fruit before meals

Studies have found that women who eat an apple within thirty minutes before a meal eat on average 30% less food at mealtime than woman who do not eat that apple. This is mostly due to the fact that apples are full of fiber, which fill up your belly.


Drink water throughout your meal

This helps expand your stomach, without adding calories. Once your stomach has expanded to a certain point, your brain tells you to stop eating. It doesn’t matter what your stomach has expanded with—water, or food.

Put food away after serving yourself

When eating alone (because it would be awkward to do this with guests) serve yourself, then pack up and store all the left overs before delving into your food. The visual cue of the empty kitchen with no food sitting around tells your brain that mealtime is over when your plate is finished.

Have a beer before your meal

You probably avoid beer like a plague because it makes you bloated, but that’s the point when it comes to dieting purposes. Sure, having 3 or 4 beers while out on the town, in a tight dress, will give you the opposite effect you’re looking for. But, similar to water, beer expands your belly with its liquid and bubbles, without adding too many calories—maybe 70 to 130 depending on the beer. And this will make you want to eat less calorie-loaded food.

Don’t fill up, then drink tea

Stop eating when you’re still just a little bit hungry and instead drink tea. This is like the beer trick, but works for those who prefer to drink at the end of meals. Since the acidity in alcohol can make you feel hungrier, it’s not the best idea to keep on drinking when you want to stop eating. Having the beer before the meal is fine, because you’re about to coat that acidity with food. But after a meal, it can perpetuate feelings of hunger. Tea, however, fills up any extra space after a meal, and the caffeine is an added appetite suppressant.

Eat complicated foods

Foods that require a lot of handy work—for example noodle soups with meat and veggies, that require you to work to put a bite together—will make you believe you’re full, sooner, because of how much time they take to consume. This is because part of our perception of being full comes from how much time we’ve spent eating.

Only eat 3 types of food

Have you ever noticed that when you’re eating at a buffet, you can’t seem to get full? That’s because when you switch flavors, your mind registers that as you re-starting the meal. This phenomenon kicks in particularly when you eat more than 3 types of foods in one meal, so sticking to that veggie/protein/starch formula is a good idea.

Just add lettuce

Plenty of restaurants do this to beautify your dish and to give you the illusion of more food. You might think they’re doing it to be cheap, but they’re also doing your waistline a favor. We often determine our fullness by how full our plate was when we began eating. But filling up today’s traditional sized plate with dense, substantial food can lead to a lot of calories. Try filling up two-thirds of your plate, and then adding a small salad right on that plate.

Don’t clean up

Obviously you need to clean those plates eventually, but if you’re in a situation where you’ll be sitting around food for a while—say at a Super Bowl party—leave your dirty plate, with remnants of your consumed food, in front of you. Studies have found that sitting in front of an empty place setting or clean plate can make you repress the memory of all the food you’ve already eaten, so you feel entitled to eat more.

Spice up your foods

It’s been proven: you just won’t feel satisfied if your food isn’t tasty. Even after eating large portions of food, you’ll still want more if it was bland. So whatever you do eat, be sure you like it! Instead of adding fatty sauces or salt, familiarize yourself with spices. These will pack a lot of flavor into your food, and since spicy food makes your heart race, makes you sweat and makes you flushed, you can’t really stand to sit around and eat a lot of it.

Focus on your food

It’s tempting to turn the TV on or crack open a book while taking your lunch break. But any sort of distraction throws a wrench in the brain-to-stomach satiation cues. Also, if you’re watching a TV show, you subconsciously believe the meal is supposed to last as long as the show lasts.

Start something thought-consuming just before mealtime

The problem with viewing your meal as a time to relax is that you use food as an excuse to take a longer break. Oh, I’m not done with my food yet…can’t get back to work! Right before you’re going to eat, delve into an activity or project that you love or that consumes your thoughts. Then, just when you’re on a role…STOP! Force yourself to eat your meal. That way, you’ll be itching to get your meal over with so you can get back to work, and won’t stand around grazing in the kitchen. You’ll tell yourself you’re full earlier so you can get back to what you were doing.

Use a larger fork

If you dig into your meal with a tiny fork, you immediately believe you’ll struggle to get enough calories from this meal, in the time you have to eat. So you’ll go back for more and more little bites, often over eating. But, if you eat with a large fork, your brain says, “I’m getting SO much food in each bite!” and you take fewer bites. Plus, you exhaust your jaw with all those large bites, and that deters you from eating more.

Always remember there is someone who can use it more

We need to switch our perspective on what it means to be full. Food is supposed to make you feel energized not exhausted. When contemplating eating the other half of your food, ask yourself this: will I feel hungry if I don’t finish this? If the answer is no, you can bet there is a homeless individual nearby who will be going legitimately hungry without that food. Go give it to them.

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