Fun and Possibly Effective Mind Tricks for Weight Loss

ace card hidden up sleeveMost of us would agree that we should eat healthy, nutritious foods and exercise regularly just because it’s the right thing to do for bodies and minds. Some of us can actually do that and do it well.

Others of us ::pause to adjust mirror:: have to come up with gimmicks and mind games to help us along when we’re tempted to stray. This used to bug me about myself, but I finally figured out that a) it wasn’t a character flaw, b) trickery and deception can be fun, and c) for me, these tricks are often effective! (Note: I do not consider this a character flaw.)

In the event you, too, would like to practice the fine art (with perhaps a little science thrown in) of mind games for weight loss help, I’ll highlight a few for your consideration and experimentation.

Mind Tricks for Weight Loss

  • Use a smaller plate. This oldie-but-goodie tip is based on the idea that our smaller portions don’t look as small when there’s not a gaping space between the servings. Our eyes signal our brain, which then sends a tweet to our bellies, that we’re eating an entire plate of food. Long-time readers know that this tip does not work for me, but only because I’m hopelessly neurotic about foods touching. It does work for many people.
  • Put down your fork between bites. You’ll eat more slowly, which will help your body recognize satiety when it sees it.
  • Eat with your non-dominant hand. The intent, I think, is to improve your mindfulness of the eating process by requiring greater concentration. Speaking only for myself, it also requires a dishcloth bib.
  • Brush your teeth after eating. We should do this anyway, for good oral hygiene, but it can also signal the brain that our meal has ended.
  • Serve snacks from small containers. I have some custard bowls that are perfect for measuring out 1/2-cup portions. Or if I don’t want that much, I’ll use a small food-prep cup or even a half-sheet paper towel. I can honestly report that I have never over-snacked when I doled out the portion first. When I’ve snacked straight from the source, however, the results haven’t always been pretty.
  • Store snacky items in opaque, closed containers. If you can’t see them, they’re less tempting, right? Unless, of course, they’re Nutter Butters, which will wake you from a sound sleep and remind you that they’re there. Waiting, in all their peanut buttery goodness. (This is precisely why no Nutter Butters have crossed my threshold in five+ years.)(I just eat them in my car. Kidding, kidding!)
  • Pretend you’re being filmed. This is so silly and so…me. I confess, though, that it has pulled me back from the brink a few times. When nothing else will work, just the thought of my mismatched-flannel wearing self exposed as a tippy-toeing fraud via a fuzzy undercover video on 60 Minutes is enough to keep me out of the kitchen when I don’t need to be in there.

One last new-to-me-tip. Last week I had the pleasure of email-meeting James Clear, of The Worldwide Wellness Project, who shared this tip that just might work:

  • Change the color of your plate. James blogged about it in Feeling Fat? Use These Two Painless Strategies to Lose Weight. Here’s an excerpt:

    [Researchers] discovered that when the color of a participant’s plate matched the color of their food, they served themselves almost 30% more. In other words, if you ate pasta with red tomato sauce on a dark red plate, you ate almost 30% more than you would if you had used a white plate. The same was true for eating pasta with a white Alfredo sauce on a white plate compared to a dark red plate.

    Check out James’s post for all the nitty gritty, but as someone who has eats a lot of beige food, I can see how this might work. As someone who generally cooks meals from previously portioned containers, it’s not going to make a huge difference in the day-to-day. But it will be handy to remember and be mindful of when dining elsewhere! Thanks, James!

Those are just a few tricks that you might or might not find useful. Or maybe you have some tricks of your own up your sleeve? Share! Share!


9 thoughts on “Fun and Possibly Effective Mind Tricks for Weight Loss

  1. I liked all these tips. Very good ways to stop over eating. I am going to apply some of them in my life. I have a website that has a tips page that you might find helpful as well. It just has some tips to help make dieting of fitness a little more simple. Found at
    Thanks for your tips/tricks to make dieting easier than just willpower.

  2. Excellent tips and I need to incorporate more of them in my life. The one that I already do (and it works so well) is to use a smaller plate. It has really helped me a lot. :)

  3. I do the smaller plate thing and it really helps my eyes be satisfied with proper portions. I love how my regular dinners are served on what the industry calls salad plates.

    I find putting things out of reach is good for me as well. It helps prevent the ‘walk by snacking’ that I tend to do.

  4. This is a good list. I thought I knew most tricks but certainly the one about eating with your less dominant hand and brushing my teeth afterwards is new. Thanks.

  5. I definitely make sure i use the smallest possible bowl or plate for my snack, it really does trick me into thinking I’m getting way more food. I never really thought about pretending to be filmed, lol but with my theatre background i’m usually being a goofy character anyways, even when i’m home alone!

  6. Great tips Cammy!!! I definitely do the smaller plate/bowl thing. I do brush my teeth after my eve snack to stop me there. If you knew how much I had to do with the teeth routine at night, you would not want to do it again either! 😉

    I am am a portion control person so it gets portioned out onto a dish & the package goes back in the cupboard, fridge or wherever!

    I do use the stop & think rule. If I am after something I really don’t need, I make myself stop & think WHY for at least 10-15 minutes. If I still eat it, I own it & move on!

    Just a few of mine… :)

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