Kids are told to clean their plates at every meal, so it's no wonder they grow into adults who feel compelled to finish whatever's in front of them. Breaking that habit can be next to impossible — but you don't necessarily have to in order to lose a few pounds. Switching up your plates, silverware, and even centerpieces (we're serious) can let you polish off every last morsel without having to let out your entire wardrobe.
Keep them saucer-size (about six inches in diameter). Yes, it might feel a little "Alice in Wonderland," but in a Cornell University study, people who ate hamburgers off of saucers believed they were eating an average of 18 percent more calories than they really were. People who ate off of 12-inch-diameter dishes, on the other hand, had no such delusion.
Research shows that the bigger the bowl, the more you'll stuff into it. So stick with small ones, or use a teacup or a mug for foods you tend to gulp down, like cereal and ice cream. Save the giant bowls for salad and broth-based soups so you can fill up on fewer calories.
According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, adults pour about 19 percent more liquid into short, wide glasses than they do into tall tumblers. This may be because our brains tend to focus more on an object's height than its width, so short glasses don't appear quite as full.
Stick with teaspoons, even to load up your plate. Another Cornell study found that people who used three-ounce serving spoons shoveled out nearly 15 percent more food than those who scooped using smaller two-ounce spoons.
In studies, people ate as much as 56 percent more when they served themselves from a one-gallon bowl than they did from a half-gallon one. You can also hedge your bets by choosing ceramic over glass: One study in the International Journal of Obesity found that women ate 71 percent more out of transparent containers than they did out of dishes they couldn't see through.
Skip them, or blow them out right after the salad course. When the lighting is dim, people linger over their food more, which can lead to overeating, says Brian Wansink, Ph. D., director of Cornell's Food and Brand Lab.
Swap flowers for a bowl of green apples, bananas, or after-dinner mints. Studies at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago found that obese and overweight people who whiffed one of those scents before each meal lost an average of 60 pounds over six months.
Make them blue — it's thought to be a natural appetite suppressant. In a study published in Contract magazine, gala attendees who dined in a blue room ate 33 percent less than those who ate in a yellow or red room. "Blue lights make food look less appealing, while warmer colors, especially yellow, have the opposite effect," says Val Jones, M. D., president and CEO of Better Health. "Fast-food restaurants have known and used this fact for decades, which is why almost all of them have yellowish interiors — they want you to eat more."