Lean on protein

When you take in fewer calories you risk losing muscle mass. So you need to (slightly) up your protein intake – include a portion of fish, chicken, turkey, low-fat cheese, eggs, quorn, soya, beans, lentils or yogurt with each meal. Studies have also shown that protein can reduce your appetite more than carbohydrate or fat. If you skimp on protein, you could still be hungry after you’ve eaten.

Snooze to lose

Aim to get at least eight hours sleep every night to stop yourself from snacking. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found those who had just five-and-a-half hours of sleep ate significantly larger amounts of high-carb snacks during their waking hours than those sleeping for eight-and-a-half hours a night. Lack of sleep boosts levels of ghrelin, the ‘hunger hormone’.

Watch those evening nibbles

Overeat in the evening and most of the calories will be stored as body fat, increasing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Aim to eat the majority of your daily kilojoules during the morning and afternoon – spread over breakfast, lunch and two or three snacks. This will help boost your metabolic rate and promote fat-burning.

Rule of three

If you’re presented with a wide variety of high-kilojoule foods, you’re likely to eat more, according to research from Tufts University in the US. So when you’re faced with an extensive choice, opt for just two or three types rather than a bit of everything.

Drink before you eat

Women who drank a large glass of water before breakfast or lunch consumed 13 per cent fewer calories, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Water distends the stomach, leaving you feeling full and less likely to overeat. Knock back a glass of water 15 minutes before you tuck into your spaghetti bolognese and you might even leave a few spoonfuls on your plate!

Bulk Up

Make your first course a bowl of veggie soup, some fresh fruit or a salad with a fat-free dressing. Eating low-kilojoule, fibre-rich foods before a meal can help reduce your total kilojoule intake. A 2004 study at Pennsylvania State University found that people who ate a 420-kilojoule salad before their meal consumed 12 per cent less, 440 kilojoules fewer overall, than those who skipped the leafy starter.

Stop looking at food

Turns out it’s not a bottomless belly that’s to blame for your penchant for second helpings, but your eyes. ‘Vision is a huge appetite stimulant,’ explains Marisa Peer, weight-loss expert and author of You Can Be Thin. ‘Studies show we eat 50 per cent more if food is left within our field of vision. So next time you have a Chinese takeaway, dish up your plate in the kitchen rather than leaving containers in tantalising view on the table in your dining room.’

Try to practice portion control

Fruit Not Juice

It may sound obvious, but eating from a bigger plate makes you eat more. Researchers at Cornell University, New York, found that people ate 45 per cent more when given a large portion, even when they disliked the food. Also, the size of the plate you use, the bowls you serve yourself from and the utensils you dish up with can all make a big difference to the amount you eat. A 2005 US study found when people serve themselves from bigger bowls and use larger serving spoons, they serve themselves at least 31 per cent more. Try using large bowls for foods like salad and small ones for ice cream.

Fruit not juice

Fruit juice is healthy, but whole fruit is better. Down a glass of orange juice and you’ll take in about 120 calories, but if you eat an orange instead, you’ll not only save around 60 calories, you’ll get more fibre and still meet your daily vitamin C quota.

Slow down

Sit down and slow down your meal, rather than eating on the run. People eat up to 15 per cent more kilojoules when they rush at mealtimes. Scoffing your meal means your hypothalamus – the part of the brain that senses when you’re full – doesn’t receive the right signals, which might explain why you tend to feel hungrier sooner.

Keep slim company

The company you keep changes your norms about what counts as an appropriate body size, according to a 2007 US study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Having friends who are overweight raises your risk of being overweight too, according to the data, which suggests the risk increases by 57 per cent if a friend is obese, by 40 per cent if a sibling is obese and 37 per cent if a spouse is. It’s easy to think it’s okay to be large when those around you are bigger.

Words: Anita Bean