MIAMI (CBSMiami) — What if something as simple as changing the color of your plate helped you lose weight? Or if clenching a fist put an end to a fattening craving? Turns out there are ways to trick ourselves into better health.

Many of us don’t give it much thought. We eat what we want, and often too much of it. When Kathy Young started feeling heavy and sluggish, she joined a lifestyle program out of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and learned simple tricks for eating healthier.

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“I think the one that’s made the most difference is using smaller plates,” she said.

When doling out food, Young’s dietician teaches that the biggest portion should be veggies, with smaller portions of protein and starch.

Dietician Jennifer Ventrelle has other tricks.

“Some research shows you might eat less if there’s a higher contrast. So one trick is to eat off of a plate that may be a different color,” she said.

Serving white pasta on a white plate is a recipe for overeating. Serve on a black plate and you’re likely to eat less.

“I don’t want to hit the mid-afternoon slump at 2 or 3 in the afternoon,” Young said. “So I knew I had to make a change and nothing else was working. “

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She said the new tips did the trick. She’s lost 18 pounds.

Young said leaving serving dishes in the kitchen was one of the toughest changes.

“That’s been really hard, because we like to eat family dinner, and used to put all the dishes in front of us. So now we dish up in the kitchen and bring it in so we have to stop and think about whether you want seconds,” she said.

Some dieticians recommend clenching your fists for 30 seconds to resist a craving, or buttering your toast from the bottom, so the taste hits your tongue sooner, satisfying your hunger quicker.

To make a vegetable like broccoli more appetizing, steam it to neutralize the smell. Or try roasting veggies like sweet potatoes to enhance the natural sugars.

Ventrelle said it’s all about mindful healthy eating, and using some tricks of the trade.

“If that allows them to make a couple of good choices then they realize that their bodies feel differently when they make good choices,” Ventrelle said.

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Another tip: if you crave sweet and salty, go for foods with vinegar. The taste of vinegar tends to those same taste buds.