While the occasional snack between meals is relatively harmless, incessant snacking can add needless calories to your daily diet, and subsequently pack on the pounds. Additionally, snacking might not even help curb your appetite, and the resulting proper meal could be as large as if you were starving and/or hadn't snacked. While an empty stomach is obviously not recommended, there are ways of tricking your brain into thinking you're fuller than you are. Here are four hacks you can use the next time you want to conserve calories in lieu of snacking.
1. Drink water!
For sheer volume and lack of calories, water is a full-proof way to keep your belly full. If your stomach and brain are advanced enough to know you're trying to trick them, try eating hydrating fruits and vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes, which are filled with water, but also vitamins, minerals and fiber.
2. Choose a smaller plate.
According to a recent study, a smaller plate might trick you into thinking you're eating more due to perception and optical illusion. "Larger plates can make a serving of food appear smaller, and smaller plates can lead us to misjudge that very same quantity of food as being significantly larger," Colleen Giblin wrote for Cornell University's Food & Brand Lab.
3. Conversely, choose a larger fork.
In the same vein as a smaller plate tricking your brain into thinking the proportion of your food is larger, using a larger fork or eating utensil can trick you into thinking you're eating more than you actually are. In a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers found that customers given a larger fork in an Italian restaurant ate less and left more on their plates in comparison to customers that were given a smaller fork.
4. Slow down and chew.
Studies have shown that eating more slowly gives your body enough time to tell your brain that you're satiated. "Stretch receptors in the stomach are activated as it fills with food or water; these signal the brain directly through the vagus nerve that connects gut and brainstem. Hormonal signals are released as partially digested food enters the small intestine," according to Harvard Health Publications. A good rule of thumb is to put your eating utensil down in between bites, which will also allow you to savor your meal.