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5 Ways to Trick Your Brain into Eating Healthy

#2. Pay Attention to the Size and Color of Your Plates

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One common technique to make yourself eat less is simply using smaller plates -- not just because they hold less food, but because they make each plate seem fuller than it really is, which tricks your brain into thinking you've eaten more. What you might not know is that even the color of the plate impacts how much you eat.

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Finally, you'll get some use out of your $500 "investment."

Researchers decided to test this idea during a college reunion, possibly because there are few social events where people will more systematically attack a buffet table. Attendees could get either a red or a white plate, and then they had the option of serving themselves pasta with tomato sauce or Alfredo sauce, which are red and white, respectively. This wasn't part of some patriotic theme: The researchers wanted the food to either blend in with the plate or stand out.

The experiment found that when people had plates that contrasted with the color of their meal, they served themselves 22 percent less food (32 grams) than those who had similar plate and food colors. So if you're trying to kick that eggplant habit, for example, simply throw away all your purple plates, and voila!

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Even the potent Acapulco Aubergine cultivar is powerless against color coordination.

To take it a bit further, they also recorded the tablecloths of the serving tables (which were either red or white) and saw that again, when the food contrasted with the cloth background, people served themselves 10 percent less than others. It works for the same reason as the "smaller plates" trick: It's called the Delboeuf illusion, an optical effect where something will look bigger if you closely surround it with a larger object that contrasts with it. The more your plate contrasts with your food, the more you'll think you've served yourself and the less you'll end up eating.

But what if you feed exclusively on burgers and rarely use things like plates or forks? Believe it or not, there's still hope for you ...

#1. Eat With Soft Lighting and Music

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We mentioned before that there is a reason restaurants play music while you eat -- music affects mood, and mood affects eating habits. Well, if restaurants are trying to use this to brainwash you into spending more, can you use it to your own advantage, diet-wise?

Totally. Researchers, apparently as part of an ongoing dare to see who could spend the most days in a restaurant, set up shop in a fast food joint and measured how much diners were eating from their meals by weighing their trays as they came and went.

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"Also, we'll need to measure any BMs you've taken in the past 24 hours."

After assessing the average amount of food eaten, the researchers tinkered with the restaurant's lighting and music, making both a few notches softer. Once more, they looked at how much food the people were eating. The difference was significant: Under the softer lighting and music, customers ate 18 percent less food (even though they ordered the same amount), consuming an average of 775 calories, compared to 949 calories. So why does this happen?

Bear in mind that those people didn't just eat less -- they were also more satisfied with the smaller amount they consumed. The diners rated their experience as significantly better than those who'd eaten under the usual brighter lights and louder music.

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This is why Olive Garden doesn't set up shop at a Slayer concert.

As it turns out, this isn't just a case of people wanting to get out of there faster when their senses are being assaulted from all directions, although that's certainly a factor. According to the researchers, since it's easier for you to enjoy your meal when your environment is calmer, you take slower bites and end up eating less overall. On the other hand, the lights and music stress you out so you eat more, and faster (note: fast food restaurants want you to leave quickly so it frees up a table).

So, if you're trying to lose weight, that gives you two options: Eat at fancy restaurants only, or start wearing thick shades and noise-cancelling earphones to Burger King.

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"Introducing the new Bose Fat Assassin calorie-reducing headphones."



XJ is a freelance writer who talks about writing on his blog and tweets whenever he can swallow his Internet social anxiety.



For more ways you can trick yourself into being better, check out 5 Ways To Hack Your Brain Into Awesomeness. Or learn about 8 Health Foods That Are Bad For Your Health.

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