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Weekly challenge: Eat with mindfulness

Whether you’re trying to shed a few pounds or just keep your weight stable, you might not need as much willpower as you think. Making simple changes in your surroundings to remove a few eating traps might help you reach or maintain a healthy weight — without feeling like you’re on a deprivation diet.

The key lies in eating mindfully — at the kitchen table, rather than in front of the TV, and at set meal times. But it also involves being strategic about the size and shape of the dishes on which you serve your food. “People don’t think that something as simple as the size of a bowl would influence how much an informed person eats,’’ said Cornell University psychologist Brian Wansink, who talked about mindless eating and his research at last week’s annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

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But it does. The bigger the bowl, plate, or tub of popcorn, the more we tend to eat, Wansink found in his research. Switch to a salad plate instead of a dinner plate, and you’ll have less room to fill it up. He also found that people pour about 37 percent more liquid in short, wide glasses than in tall, skinny ones of the same volume and that kids pour more cereal into 16-ounce cereal bowls than 8-ounce ones.

Wansink recommends making the following changes to your eating environment, which he found in one study helped people lose up to two pounds a month.

— Eat off salad plates instead of large dinner plates.

— Keep treats like potato chips, ice cream, and cookies out of your immediate line of sight, moving them to a high or low shelf in your pantry, freezer, or refrigerator.

— Always eat at the kitchen or dining room table, not while driving or watching TV.

— Have set times for meals and snacks, rather than grazing throughout the day.

Here are more tips on eating mindfully.

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