Two research-backed ways to get more shut-eye (you should aim for 7-8 hours per night): Create a relaxing bedtime ritual like reading or stretching to signal your body that it’s time for sleep, and stay away from technology an hour before bed.
More from Fitbie: 6 Slimming Sleep Secrets
Portion-Control Plan #4: Chill out.
When we’re stressed, our bodies release hormones that would have, in caveman times, helped us survive: adrenaline for an immediate burst of energy, and cortisol, the ultimate stress hormone. From an evolutionary standpoint, cortisol increases our appetite so that we can replenish our energy stores for the next time we need to “fight or flee.” Rodents, who are also evolutionarily wired to “fight or flee," act in the same way: When lab mice were purposefully ticked off by researchers, they ate as many high-fat food pellets as they could when they were offered; repeated bouts of stress increased their intake even more. Problem is, modern stressors in our everyday lives (bad traffic, annoying neighbors, demanding bosses, etc.) often don't require energy expenditure, so this drive to eat more food is unnecessary and ultimately leads to weight gain, among other health woes.
One surefire way to counteract stress? Exercise! In addition to burning calories, it releases other hormones that offset the negative effects of stressful situations. Also, make sure to get enough sleep and to devote a specified period of time each day to relaxation, which can also calm you down.
More from Fitbie: 5 Stress-Reducing Yoga Poses
Portion-Control Plan #5: Downsize your dinnerware.
Eat on a smaller plate, and you may just end up dropping a few pounds. Yes, you’re automatically reducing portion size, but more importantly, according to food psychologist Brian Wansink, you’re tricking your brain into being satisfied. Seeing a small portion on a large plate makes you think you’re missing out, but seeing the same portion pushing the borders of a smaller plate tricks you into thinking you’re eating more. In one of Wansink’s studies, published in the journal Appetite, diners who ate off 9-inch plates ate 48 percent fewer calories than those who ate off of 12-inch plates. Use a similar trick with alcoholic drinks: Tall, slim glasses appear to hold more liquid than fat, short ones.
Portion-Control Plan #6: Put your silverware to good use.
Cut up your food and you might eat less of it: Smaller pieces of food may trick your brain into perceiving that there’s more of it. When college students were offered either a whole bagel or a bagel cut into quarters, those who were offered the quartered bagel ate less of the bagel -- and ate fewer calories at a later meal. According to researchers, people use numbers to judge how much of a food is present -- so four quarters of a bagel appears to be more than one whole bagel.
Rania Batayneh, MPH, is a nutritionist and author of The One One One Diet.