Yesterday, we reported that taking selfies might help you stay on track with your weight-loss goals. And now, a new study from the journal Appetite finds that there’s another type of photo that can help you eat less when you’re dieting: a picture of low-cal food.
Researchers split 69 women (some dieting and some not) into two groups: They gave the first group pictures of low-cal foods to look at (mainly fruits and diet products). The second group got pictures that resembled the food photos but weren’t actually food—like a bright yellow sun instead of a grapefruit. Then, they gave both groups snacks to munch on. What happened? The non-dieters ate the same amount of snacks regardless of which photos they saw beforehand. But the dieters who saw pictures of low-cal food ate less than those who looked at pics of non-food objects.
The reason this happened, theorize the researchers, is that the pictures act as a subtle visual reminder of the dieters’ weight-loss goals. To get a similar effect, researchers suggest sticking pictures of low-cal, good-for-you foods on your fridge or on your cupboards. That way, you’ll see them before you choose what to eat and may end up consuming fewer calories without even thinking about it. Another option: Make the background on your phone a picture of a low-cal food. Since you probably look at your phone every, oh, two seconds, chances are you’ll see it before you reach for any candy or cookies—so you’ll be subtly reminded to eat less.
*This story was originally published on WomensHealth.com.