There are all kinds of tricks to lose weight, but what you may not know is that the restaurant industry has been using one of these tricks on you for years. What is it? It is the little appetiser. Restaurants use appetisers to help make you fuller and to increase their profit margin, but you can use them to decrease your waistline.

One of the reasons appetisers help you to lose weight is that they slow down your eating. It takes the brain several minutes to get the message that your stomach is satisfied, so going slow is an easy way to shed extra pounds. Adding appetisers to your dinner means that it will take you longer to eat, and that gives your brain more time to process the message that you’re full.

Eating appetisers are an excellent way to lose weight, but only if you choose the right ones. A plate full of deep-fried tortilla chips drenched in nacho cheese, and sour cream is loaded with calories and does not make an excellent choice for an appetiser (though you can certainly enjoy occasionally, and in moderation).

Raw vegetables served with dip makes a satisfying appetiser, but most dips are high in fat. Here’s a simple, low-calorie dip that you can use instead: puree combine non-fat cottage cheese with herbs and fresh pepper, put in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth.

Grate 4 radishes and a peeled cucumber (adding a pinch of salt if you like) and set aside. Blend a package of low-fat or non-fat cream cheese with 3 chopped scallions. Drain liquid from the radish and cucumber mixture and add it to the cream cheese. This is an appetising way to lose weight and makes a good spread for bagels or whole-wheat crackers.

Soup makes a good appetiser when you need a way to lose weight. You can make a tasty Italian or Asian soup by starting with 2 cups of chicken broth. For the Italian version, you add some chopped basil, garlic, oregano, and frozen spinach. Garnish with 1 teaspoon of freshly grated parmesan cheese and a sprig of parsley. The Asian version is made with some minced ginger, a splash of soy sauce and 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables.

While it’s not traditionally thought of as an appetiser, you can always begin your meal with a salad. Use a variety of greens and fresh vegetables, but stay away from cheese, chopped meat, eggs, and fatty salad dressings.

By starting your meal with an appetiser, you won’t fill up on the main course. It will also take you longer to eat, giving you extra time to realise you’re full. You will eat fewer calories overall, but you will even get to enjoy your meal, and that’s an appetising way to lose weight, no matter how you slice it.