How To Trick Yourself Into Eating Better

small plate of food

Willpower is an awesome thing, but it gets hard to use it all the time.

There’s a scientific term called ego-depletion which basically describes the eventual diminishing of our willpower when we have to use it over and over again. Willpower is like a muscle, you can make it big and strong but there’s only so much merit to being strong. Sometimes you need to be smart too.

Use your willpower on the things that matter, sure.

But when you don’t have to use it, why waste it?

The way some people diet is like going into a factory and stacking hundreds of heavy boxes by hand, ignorant of the forklift they walked past a hundred times in the process.

Don’t make it hard for yourself! Here are ways to trick yourself into eating less and lose weight with less effort.

Use Smaller Plates To Limit Portion Size

The commonly held belief was that our appetite was driven purely by our physiology. We now know that it is a combination of our physiology and our environment that cause us to eat more or less. It’s no coincidence that we get fatter as portion sizes creep up. I enjoy a big meal as much as the next person, but when I see the serving sizes at some American restaurants, I do wonder who the hell decided it was a good idea to feed people that much!

Using smaller plates is part illusion, the same amount of food on a smaller plate looks bigger and studies have demonstrated that our beliefs about how much we’re eating affect not only how much we eat but how our hormones react to what we eat!

Dr. Alia Crum found that giving people a milkshake drink could create profound differences in their fullness by telling them different things about it before they consumed it. When they believed it was a low-calorie weight loss shake, they weren’t very satisfied and their leptin and ghrelin levels didn’t change much. When they had an indulgent dessert shake (same shake still) they not only reported feeling fuller, but their leptin levels rose and their ghrelin levels fell.

Note: Leptin is your ‘I’m full’ hormone, and ghrelin is your ‘feed me, dammit!’ hormone. 

Yep, we’re weird creatures aren’t we.

Now, smaller plates don’t always work. If you’re going to have two small plates instead of one large plate then you’re really not going to see any positive difference, but if you use smaller plates over a longer period of time and only cook enough food to fill those plates, you’ll find yourself eating less without thinking about it.

I said it was part illusion, it’s also part habit. You don’t change your dinner plates frequently, so when you make a change like this one, however big or small the effect, it will be lasting.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleeping well has loads of benefits for our health. Better thinking, better body composition and better appetite control. 

Yep, as if being tired all days isn’t bad enough.. you’ll get fat too.

This is an indirect effect. Sleeping less doesn’t make you fat, but it does mess with leptin and ghrelin. Being sleep deprived makes you hungrier and more likely to make poor decisions.

And did I mention tired?

Learn About The Benefits Of Healthy Foods

If I told a client that he should eat eggs, he might, he might not.

If I said that eggs provided protein to help him build muscle and lose fat, choline to help keep his nervous system in good health so he would get stronger more quickly, and cholesterol which not only wouldn’t raise his blood cholesterol, but would help his body manufacture testosterone.. do you think he’d eat more eggs?

Damn, even I want an omelette right now!

Our beliefs about food are important. It’s time to stop focusing purely on the negatives of bad foods and start looking at the positives of the foods that should form a part of our diet.

I’ve profiled hundreds of foods in past roles within the nutrition industry and it made me select foods based on the benefits they provided for me. I didn’t have to think about the changes or use will power, my decisions were simply impacted by the information available to me.

Find good reasons to eat the foods you should be eating, and you’ll actually want to eat them.

If you can’t find good reasons then maybe you shouldn’t be eating them.

Don’t Buy It And You Won’t Eat It

Food goes on a journey before it makes its way into your mouth. I’m not talking about the hard work of the farmer or the rearing of a little piglet, I’m talking about the shopping, preparing and serving of your food. If your house is filled with unhealthy food then you already made a mistake, you’ll have to use a ton of willpower and frankly, you’ll probably still fail. You’re playing a losing game.

If you buy foods with lots of calories and very little decent nutrition then you’re very likely to get fat. If you don’t then you won’t.

Unless you steal..

Don’t steal.

Don’t Snack

I always hate it when some people say that calorie counting is unhealthy or that it can lead to eating disorders. Dis-order? To me, quantifying something that needs quantifying creates order. Knowledge gives you clarity.

Snacking on the other hand?

The casual eating of random foods with random nutritional values at random times of day?

It’s basically a global eating disorder.

But that’s none of my business..

Until next time,


8 thoughts on “How To Trick Yourself Into Eating Better

    1. Hi Sam,

      It’s not always about eating healthy. Weight loss is on paper a simple equation. Calories out – Calories in = Weight lost. The problem for most isn’t understanding it but sticking to it, so these should help.

      Be sure to track your calories if your weight loss has stalled though, if you’re not measuring then you’re guessing!


    1. Thanks for dropping by Roland, in answer to your question… it depends.

      For some people, avoiding refined sugar is the best course of action. For most, just have treats in smaller servings and have something with a bit more substance with it. That slows down the blood sugar rise and keeps you from the repetitive carb cravings.

      Hope that helps,


Comments are closed.