Divide and Conquer
Losing that gut may be as simple as dividing food into smaller packages. Study participants who were given 24 individually wrapped cookies ate them in an average of 24 days, while those who received a box of 24—minus the partitions—polished them off in just six days, according to the Journal of Marketing Research.
"Partitioning food prevents you from eating larger portions because stopping to open another package forces you to pay attention to how much you're actually consuming," says Amar Cheema, study co-author and assistant professor at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.
But before you stock up on bulk boxes of 100-calorie pack treats, know that partitions may lose their effect over time if ripping into another package becomes a routine task. Instead, try switching it up by using plastic baggies as well as different types and colors of containers.
Think Yourself Slim
To curb an afternoon snack attack, try thinking back to what you had for lunch. Study participants asked to recall their last meal before doing a taste test munched about one-third fewer cookies than those who were asked about their morning commute, finds a study in Physiology & Behavior.
"Remembering what you ate activates your brain's hippocampus, which may play a role in decision-making to help you say no to consuming extra calories," explains Suzanne Higgs, the lead study author from the University of Birmingham in the UK.
To tame your appetite, jot down a detailed list of everything you had for lunch (no cheating!), then review it before your afternoon vending-machine visit. You may decide you don't need that super-sized candy bar after all!
Spice Things Up
A little sprinkling action may be all it takes to lose weight. In fact, people who added flavorings to their food shed an average of 30.5 pounds, or nearly 15 percent of their body weight, after just six months, finds a study from the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago.
"Seasonings may make bland-but-healthy foods, such as tofu and vegetables, taste more flavorful so people are likelier to fill up on lower-calorie options instead of fattier dishes," speculates lead researcher Alan Hirsch, M.D. Try adding onion powder or chili pepper flakes to vegetables or topping sliced bananas with cocoa powder to feel satisfied with less food.