5 Psychological Tricks to Help You Lose Weight: Let Your Mind be a Slimming Ally, Not an Enemy
At its simplest, the idea behind weight loss is to reduce the number of calories you eat, while at the same time increasing the total you burn off through physical activity. However, if it was really that simple, slimming would be a straightforward matter instead of the struggle that most people find it.
One of the most difficult aspects of dieting is the mental side of things, as you can often feel an emotional urge to eat that doesn’t respond well to simple willpower. That being said, your brain can also be an ally in your weight loss battle if you approach mealtimes with psychology in mind. Here are five mental tricks and techniques you can use to make a real difference to your slimming success.
Use Blue Crockery
If your diet plan involves smaller meals that aren’t large enough to satisfy your appetite, try serving your food on blue plates or dishes. There are very few foods which are blue in their natural state, and blue crockery will not stimulate your appetite on a subconscious level in the same way that more food-like colors will. Just as the beautiful presentation will make you hungrier, the power of blue plates will send a subliminal message that this isn’t a foodstuff to feast on.
The “Smaller Plates” Trick
This is an old trick, but a highly effective one. If you serve your meal on a small plate, it will look like a larger portion compared to the same amount of food sitting lonely on a large, mainly empty serving dish. Your brain will be fooled into thinking you’ve eaten a satisfyingly large meal, while in reality, you’ve taken on fewer calories than you otherwise would.
Use Mindfulness Techniques
Mindfulness means trying to be fully aware of your actions and situation at all times, rather than being distracted and trying to do too much at once. In terms of dieting, this means concentrating on your food as you eat, rather than absentmindedly devouring your meals while watching TV, reading a book, or worrying about the next day’s schedule.
If you approach your meals in a mindful way, you’ll appreciate your food more, and will also eat it more slowly. This last point is crucial: it takes around 20 minutes between you eating enough to meet your energy needs and your brain receiving the signals to switch off your appetite. The more slowly you eat, the fewer extra calories you’ll get through during this time lag.
Make Things Difficult
The same idea of slowing down eating through concentration can be approached in a different way. If you make it physically more difficult to eat, you’ll have to focus your attention and take your time over it, which increases your mindfulness. Try using chopsticks for relatively unsuitable foods (although be careful not to let this overflow into frustration), or use smaller cutlery meant for children to reduce the physical efficiency of eating. Both of these will mean you spend longer over the same amount of food, and your brain will see your meal as a lengthy feast rather than merely a quick refueling exercise.
Spice It Up
Not everyone finds highly spiced food palatable, but there’s no doubt that the hotter your food, the more you’ll notice it while eating. As well as promoting mindful eating by occupying your attention, spicy food also has a real psychological effect. The heat sensation causes your body to release chemicals known as endorphins, which have a pleasurable calming effect on your mood. This means spicy food will leave you feeling more satisfied more quickly, and you’ll consume fewer calories overall than with blander foods such as pasta, rice, or potatoes.
Successful weight loss is about the power of the mind as much as the biology of the body, and you can turn that to your advantage with a little thought and effort. By using these tricks and techniques, you’ll enlist the help of your brain to make you eat less and take on fewer calories, whichever particular diet plan you decide to follow.