You’ve already put a healthy eating weight loss plan into motion to slim down and feel incredible this year. But maybe you don’t know how to lose weight fast enough. Give your weight loss efforts a turbocharge with these six stress-free habits to help you lose even more weight by focusing on how you eat as opposed to what you eat:
1. Get small plates and skinny glasses.
No, not tapas—actual, smaller dinner plates can make you feel more satisfied when eating the same amount of food. In a Cornell University study, people who ate burgers served on smaller plates thought they were eating almost 20 percent more calories than they really were. And in another study from Cornell, researchers found that it works with smaller serving spoons, too: Dieters who used a two-ounce serving spoon took less food than those using a three-ounce server.
Your glasses matter, too: People pour about 19 percent more fluid into short, wide glasses than they do into tall, skinny cups, according to the Journal of Consumer Research. If you’re consuming a beverage with calories—a cocktail or glass of juice for a treat, switch out the tumbler for a tall drink of… whatever you’re having.
2. Step away from your desk and put away your phone.
Eliminate distractions while you eat: If your mind is elsewhere, you’ll need more taste sensations—like sweetness, saltiness and crunchiness—to be satisfied. A Dutch study found that dieters had a harder time determining the sweetness of a beverage while trying to concentrate on a mental task.
Defusing distractions during your meal is called “mindful eating,” where dieters focus on being aware of act of eating as well as the food they’re eating. Piles of studies have shown that this technique helps increase weight loss without a direct focus on calories. You don’t have to chant and meditate while you chew, though: Just eliminate distractions. Turn off the TV, put away your phone and save your reading for after lunch; instead, focus on the colors, textures and flavors of what you’re eating.
A three-month study from Ohio State found that diabetes patients significantly lowered their blood sugar with this strategy. And a British study found that it helps you later in the day—mindful dieters in the study not only ate less at the distraction-free meal, but downed fewer calories the rest of the day.
3. Listen to your mother: Chew your food.
Part of that mindful eating: Chewing your food thoroughly. Mom’s advice has some science behind it, too: In a study from China, men who chewed each bite of food 40 times ate 12 percent fewer calories at a meal after a 12-hour fast than those who chewed just 15 times. The study was small, but included another benefit of more chewing: The 40-chew group produced less ghrelin, a hormone that is related to feeling hungry.
4. Drink before you eat.
This tip does double duty: First, if you warm up with a beverage an hour before your meal, you could eat less. By consuming hot liquids, like tea, 60 minutes before eating, you can feel fuller faster and eat fewer calories—134 fewer, according to a 2008 study from Penn State. And if your tea has cinnamon, it can give you a bonus benefit: In a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the spice increased sugar metabolism by a factor of 20 at the next meal.
Whether you have the warm drink or not, follow it with some water right before your meal. In a study from Virginia Tech, participants who drank two, eight-ounce glasses of water before meals lost 36 percent more weight over a 12-week period than those who skipped the pre-meal beverage.
5. Never eat directly from a bag, and be sure to measure your snacks.
Eating a pre-measured serving on a plate or in a bowl will help you consume less if you aren’t eating mindfully. Mindless snacking from a bag can result in the bag being emptied—even if that wasn’t your intention.
6. Set half of your meal aside.
If your food is out of sight, it can be out of mind—and stay out of your gut. This simple trick has helped dieters for years: When you’re served a meal at a restaurant, ask for a second plate or to-go box to be delivered with your meal. When you’re served, cut the portion in half, setting aside the second half of the meal. Then begin eating the remaining half of your portion.
Moving the half-portion away from you could make you less likely to eat it: In a 2015 study from Ohio State University, researchers found that obese people have more food visible around the house than their non-obese counterparts. And other studies have found that moving food a further distance from you can result in eating less: In a study of a candy dish, people ate 1.8 more pieces per day when the bowl was placed on their desk as opposed to 6 feet away.
But here’s the coolest part: You don’t necessarily have to skip eating the second half of the meal. Just putting the food out of sight might help you be more satisfied with the first half. In a study from Cornell, researchers found that people just like a clean plate: The average adult across the world finishes 92 percent of what’s on their plate. And emerging psychological research indicates why: When you’re a kid, you’re taught to “clean your plate,” and many adults don’t feel satisfied until they do. By strategically removing half of an overstuffed restaurant portion, you can clean your plate—and still lose weight.