17. As soon as you feel the first stirrings of fullness, remove your plate from the table or, if you’re dining out, cover your plate with a napkin. This tells your brain that food time is over, says Galvez.
18. Dine to soothing music, not the television. This signals that mealtime is to be enjoyed and savored. You’ll be more aware of what you’re eating, will eat slower, and will get the “full” signal sooner, thus eating less.
19. Buy (or package) snacks and other foods into single-serving containers. For instance, don’t leave a half-gallon of ice cream in your freezer; it’s too easy to add that second or third scoop when you’re dishing it out. Instead, when you get home from the grocery store, scoop the appropriate serving size into individual containers and freeze. Do this after you’ve eaten, so you’re not tempted to increase the size or sneak a bite.
20. Don’t talk while you’re still chewing. Instead, put your fork down, chew, and swallow your food before you begin talking. Again, this will force you to slow down while eating, and you’ll be full before you know it (yet you will know it!)
21. Scrape all leftovers into the trash. Make it a habit. You don’t need to clean off everyone’s plates yourself.
22. Write down every morsel you eat in a food diary. It’s likely you’ve been overlooking some calories, and it’s time to start looking them over! Seeing all you ate in black and white will help keep you from overeating.
23. Nix the restrictive or fad diets. They will only make you crave certain foods, leading to binge eating.
24. Limit the amount of artificial sweeteners and artificially sweetened foods you eat. A Purdue University study published in July 2004 found that consuming artificially sweetened foods and beverages may throw off your natural ability to monitor calories and increase your likelihood of overeating.
25. Practice the 20-minute distraction strategy. When you find yourself looking for food, even though you are not hungry, do something else for 20 minutes, suggests Jill Fleming, R.D., author of Thin People Don’t Clean Their Plates. The activity needs to involve your brain as well as your hands, such as playing the piano or cleaning a closet.
26. Set your kitchen timer for 20 minutes every time you think you want something to eat. If you still want to eat when it rings, fine. If not, you weren’t really hungry to begin with and the urge will have passed, says Fleming. Conversely, when you sit down to eat, set your time for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, stop eating, put down your fork, walk around the house. After 10 minutes of this, you can go back to eating.
27. Have a nutritious snack like a handful of peanuts, a piece of fruit and cheese, or a yogurt about an hour or so before dinner. Keeping your appetite in check is one of the best ways to avoid binges.