An animation of a white plate with the right food component allotments.

Image: Shutterstock

Trust me, this post is as hard to write as it is to take to heart, because food is amazing. But one of the easiest ways to take control of your diet is just to limit how much you actually eat. Because as human beings we are very visual, many of these tips play tricks on your mind, making it think you’ve got more food than you do, and it’s surprising how effective some of these very simple changes are! All that this “diet” (and boy, do I hate that word) asks is that you just don’t eat as much. Pretty simple stuff.

Use your grandparents’ dishware.

Portion sizes—and modern plates—are much, much larger than they used to be, and this is one of the largest reason we as a nation are very overweight. If you have an old set of likely smaller dishware lying around the house, they’re a great tool for portion control! 54% of Americans claim to eat until their plate is clean, so with standard 10-12 inch dinner plates instead of the current 12-14 inch ones, you’ll at least be cleaning a smaller plate.

Cut things like pizza into more slices.

Sometimes the best defense is witchcraft! Or just cutting large items like sandwiches, brownies, or pizza into smaller portions to begin with. If you ask for 2 slices of pizza from one whole one cut into 12 slices instead of 8, you’ll get your brain to think you’ve eaten two bigger pieces like you normally would. There’s a good chance that this method will encourage you to eat less. Here is a relevant video of Liz Lemon, my personal hero.

Think about the way you’re serving food.

For many of our favorite foods, one serving is more than enough. If you serve dinner on individual plates and leave the serving dishes in the kitchen, your family may be discouraged from eating more. But you can eat as much as you want of some things, so keep things like salads or veggies within easy reach.

Avoid “fat-free” or “natural” foods.

I’ll be honest with you, reader friends: a lot of these titles are hooey. A lot of things are “natural” that you don’t want to eat. And even if what you’re eating is organically-grown and generally healthy, that doesn’t mean you get a free pass to just eat the entire bag in one sitting. Things like actual half-and-half in your coffee will still give you better nutrition than adding the fat-free kind, which is pumped full of sugar and other not-so-diet-friendly things.

For more information, check out the CDC’s recommendations for portion control! They even have a game to play with your kids.