Losing weight is easier with these tricks for curbing your appetite.

5 Small Weight Loss Fixes that Really Work

Going on a diet is all well and good, but what if there were an easier way to cut calories and eat healthier without making enormous changes to your daily routine? Here are few proven tricks that can help you lose weight just by thinking about eating in a new way.

1. Switch Dishes

You’ve heard the doctor’s advice not to eat ice cream out of the carton or chips straight from the bag. Now here’s the next step – swap out your bowls and plates for something smaller. Research from Cornell University’s Food Lab shows an oversize portion of lasagna may look just fine on a large dinner plate, on a lunch plate it will be clear you really don’t need to eat that much. To make a smaller portion even more satisfying, eat it slowly and mindfully, concentrating on enjoying every bite.

2. Set Your Exercise Goals with Minimums and Maximums

Recently researchers made an interesting discovery: If you set a goal as a range, and tell yourself to make the minimum, it’s that much easier to reach for the higher limit. Here’s an example. You set out on your evening walk, with a goal of walking for 20 to 30 minutes. While 30 minutes might have sounded daunting when you left the house, at the end of 20 minutes you’ll find it easy peasy to keep going for another ten.

3. Create a Cravings Ritual

When you’re reaching for the chips bag or stopped outside the cupcake stand, it feels almost impossible to resist those cravings. But you can do it, with the help of a proven strategy in which you tie a physical activity to cravings. Some people drop to the ground and do 15 push ups, others grab their jackets and head out for a brisk walk. Still others reward themselves with 5 minutes of downtime to do a favorite activity like read a book. Whatever works for you to tame those cravings, do it.

4. Banish Beverages

It’s an enormous challenge to stop yourself from eating dessert. But what if you could cut out those 400 calories with much less sacrifice? You can, by cutting out juices, sweet drinks, and limiting your wine and beer intake. Did you know that the smallest size of a Jamba Juice banana berry smoothie has 280 calories and a 16-ounce Starbucks vanilla latte has 260? And that’s when made with 2% milk! So replace these with water, unsweetened or very lightly sweetened coffee and tea, and other non-caloric beverages and you’ve accomplished the same thing without giving up your post-dinner cookie.

5. Take a To-Go Box

This trick came from the personal experience of weight loss experts on their lunch break. When you plan in advance to take home half your meal, you eat less. To make this work, ask the waiter for a to-go container halfway through the meal or earlier rather than at the end. Knowing you’ll have half a sandwich, salad or entrees in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner makes it a snap to eat less now.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.