Do you often find yourself eating more than you want to? I know I sure do …
And I’ll bet most people do as well. In fact, eating too much is a huge reason why people fail to lose weight.
I’ve shared plenty of diet advice in this blog. And I’ve also shared some interesting mental tricks to help you eat less.
Today I’d like to share some tricks you can play with your plate that are scientifically proven to help you eat less.
They might sound a bit bizarre, but science says they work.
Plate ploy #1: See red
You’ve heard of the blue-plate special, right? Well, it seems that when it comes to eating less, RED is the plate to pick.
Italian researchers served 240 participants snacks of popcorn and chips on either red, white, or blue plates. Those who dined on the red plates ate less food than those using either of the other two plates, regardless of how much they said they enjoyed the snacks.1
Why? Researchers don’t know, but it may be because people associate the color red with caution (Stop sign, anyone?). This may subtly curb intake when food is served on a plate of that color.
Plate ploy #2: Use a larger fork
I’ve written before about how using a smaller plate can help you eat less. But interestingly enough, using a LARGER fork can do the same thing.
Researchers at the University of Utah served up meals at an Italian restaurant using large forks or small forks. They found that folks who used large forks ate less than those with the smaller forks.2
Researchers believe a smaller fork makes us feel we aren’t making as much of a dent on our plate, so we take more forkfuls to satisfy our hunger. As a result, diners with smaller forks consume more food than those using larger forks.
An interesting note: This phenomenon only happened with large portions. When diners were served smaller meals, fork size didn’t affect how much they ate. So next time you’re served a super-sized entree, ask for a bigger fork to help you eat less.
Plate ploy #3: Keep serving dishes off the table
Sure it’s easier to have all your food on the table when you sit down for a meal. But keeping serving platters out of reach may trick you into eating less. Cornell University researchers let almost 80 participants help themselves to pasta, applesauce, and pudding. Some participants served themselves from bowls located on the counter a few feet away, and others served from bowls on the table where they were eating.3
The results? The participants ate less — up to 35% less — when the serving bowl was not in plain sight.
Lesson learned? Keep the big bowl of broccoli on the table during dinner. And the sweet potato pudding? Leave that in the kitchen.
So what do you think? Did you know any of these tricks before? I didn’t. But I’m definitely going to try them. I’d love to hear if you try them too. Let me know!
Steven Sisskind, M.D.
1. Bruno N, Martani M, Corsini C, Oleari C. The effect of the color red on consuming food does not depend on achromatic (Michelson) contrast and extends to rubbing cream on the skin. Appetite. 2013;71:307-313. PMID: 23999521.
2. Mishra A, Mishra H, Masters TM. The influence of bite size on quantity of food consumed: a field study. J Consum Res. 2012;38(5):791-795.
3. Payne CR, Smith L, Wansink B. Dish here, dine there: serving off the stove results in less food intake than serving off the table. FASEB J. 2010;24 (Abstract Supplement):741.4.