Pay attention to portions AND proportions
Mind not only the size of your meals, but also the proportions of lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables on your plate. Following the USDA’s guidelines of a quarter-plate lean protein, a quarter-plate whole grains, and a half-plate of fruits and vegetables not only gives you a balanced, nutrition-dense meal, but it makes overeating more difficult. "The fiber and protein are going to keep you more full than, say, all the starch in an entire plate of pasta," Harris-Pincus says.
Tackle temptations before going to parties and buffets
Before arriving at an "eating event" (a Super Bowl party, the sample aisle at a grocery store on Saturday morning), have a protein- and fiber-rich snack to veer you away from the shoe-gobbling side of the satiety scale. Stand far away from the buffet, and if you're boozing, choose low-calorie drinks (vodka with flavored seltzer is a good one). Chase each adult beverage with a glass of water. Harris-Pincus notes that the water serves a dual function: "[It] staves off dehydration and keeps you more full, so you aren’t as likely to stuff yourself with chips."
Another strong move: when you're done eating, cleanse your palate by brushing your teeth or chewing gum, a trick Harris-Pincus likes a lot. "As soon as you put gum in your mouth, it changes the flavor, and you're not as likely to want to continue to eat whatever it was you were eating."
Make sure you're actually hungry before eating
Sounds simple, but this is another instance where your brain is kind of dumb. It often doesn't know if it's hungry, sleepy, or thirsty, which kind of seems like a pretty big evolutionary disadvantage, but there it is. "When we get that not-so-great feeling, we think, 'I must be hungry,' but you could be tired or a little dry," Harris-Pincus says. "Especially in mid-afternoon, when we are a little of all three." Start by sipping water, seltzer, or unsweetened tea. "It may quench your thirst or you may be filled up with just liquid," Harris-Pincus says. If that doesn't do the trick, you can close your laptop and start stuffing your face with exactly the right amount of food you need, and no more.
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Missy Wilkinson will bring hummus and vegetables if you invite her to your next eating event. Follow her on Twitter at @missy_wilkinson.