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10 Weight-Loss Tricks That Have Nothing to Do with Diet or Exercise

Losing weight isn't all about cutting calories and sweating it out at the gym. These weight-loss tips may help you shed pounds without really trying.

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Switch your dishes

“Many times, we eat with our eyes more than our stomach,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet and Walking Off The Weight For Dummies. “If you place a small portion on a large plate, you automatically assume the meal will be less satisfying. However, by placing food on a smaller plate, the plate looks filled which in turn allows you to feel more satisfied.” A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that eating food from a plate with a wide colored rim may trick your brain into thinking your meal is about 3 percent larger than it actually is. If you are watching what you eat, try the healthy diet plan nutritionists use to lose weight.

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Repaint your dining room

Good news for those who enjoy channeling their inner interior decorator: Palinski-Wade suggests painting over or getting rid of everything in your dining room (or your usual eating environment) with red and yellow tones. “These two shades can trigger an increased appetite, as well as an increased speed of eating,” she says. “If you look at the color of most fast food chains, you will see that this works! Instead, dining in a blue-colored room will help you feel more relaxed and eat at a slower pace.”

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Dim the lights

“Research has shown individuals tend to eat slower in dimly lit rooms than in brightly lit ones,” says Palinski-Wade. In fact, investigators from Cornell University gathered 62 customers and divided them between two dining areas—one room contained bright lights and loud music while the other room added indirect lighting and the sounds of soft jazz. The study volunteers who ate lunch in the “fine dining atmosphere” consumed about 6 percent less food than those in the “louder” room. And while those in the quieter environment were less likely to ask for seconds, those who did took in 14 percent fewer calories than the participants in the other group. Steal these other 14 secrets of women who never diet.

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Dine with your healthiest friends

Like the saying goes, you are the company you keep. Sociologists from the University of Texas at Austin found that social relationships have a direct affect on our health. In fact, a friend, partner or loved one’s health behaviors, such as eating habits (along with exercise routine and willingness to adhere to medical regimes), can rub off on us. Similar research published in the journal Science suggests that surrounding yourself with those of a similar weight, body mass, fitness level and diet preferences can encourage the healthier lifestyle behaviors. Check out these other 42 easy ways to lose weight.

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Grab a pen

Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center discovered that women who kept food journals were more likely to lose weight, regardless of the type of diet (i.e. low fat or low carb) they were following. Their results, which were published online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, indicated that the participants (overweight and obese postmenopausal women) who recorded everything they consumed—which included beverages, portion size, and details of how each dish was prepared—lost about six pounds more than the ladies who didn’t log their eating habits.

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Set a strict bedtime

Hitting the hay consistently can help move the scale in the right direction. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal discovered that a lack of sleep (the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of shut-eye per night) can increase appetite-regulating hormones. “Too little sleep can lead to fatigue and increased carbohydrate cravings,” says Palinski-Wade. “In addition, when you’re exhausted, it can impact your motivation to exercise, prepare healthy meals, or even food shop.” Here are more fascinating tricks to lose weight while you sleep.

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Give mindful eating a shot

According to researchers from University of California San Francisco, practicing mindful eating and stress reduction techniques can prevent weight gain without dieting. The study authors instructed 47 female volunteers—all of whom were labeled as chronically stressed and either overweight or obese—to take part in nine weekly sessions that taught strategies for stress relief and becoming more aware of their body’s signals, such as hunger, thirst, or fullness. The women who experienced the greatest reduction in stress were more likely to have lost the most deep abdominal fat—the type of fat linked to a higher risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

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Stop serving family-style

One study in the journal Appetite found that moving a bowl of candy onto workers’ desks instead of six feet away triggered them to reach for 48 percent more—even though they thought they’d cut down their grazing. The same rule applies to your dinner table: When there’s a heaping basket of bread or big casserole dish in front of you, it’s tempting to reach for seconds. By leaving heavy foods on the stove or counter, the effort it takes to get more deters you from overeating. Make psychology work for you by leaving the veggies on the table.

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Get your partner onboard

Teamwork can be the key to weight-loss success, according to a study in Health Communication. Participants whose partners were actively trying to shed pounds with them were better at sticking to their healthy plans than those whose partners weren’t in on their goals. When you and your partner are in it together, you can help each other—maybe you’re into kale salads, while he loves taking you to the gym—and any feedback is interpreted as encouragement, not guilt-tripping. Here are 50 more things doctors wish you knew about losing weight.

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Find a new stress reliever

You might want to add a “mood” column to your food diary. One report found that only 10 percent of people consider mindset a barrier to weight-loss success, yet emotional eating is one of the biggest triggers for overeating. Pay attention to your mood when you’re reaching for a snack, suggests neuropsychologist Diane Robinson, PhD, program director of integrative medicine at Orlando Health. If you’re using food as a coping mechanism instead of to quash hunger, find a different outlet, like going for a walk or sipping some herbal tea. Try these other 50 ways to lose weight without a lick of exercise.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest