Using red plate will make your brain associate the color with the stop sign and you might actually eat less that using other colored plates.

Use your plate to cut calories

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

Using larger fork will make you feel that you are eating a lot in every bite thus making you feel more satisfied.

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!

Dr. Steven Sisskind, M.D.
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.

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10 comments

  1. That is absurd, and insulting to children, to say it is demeaning to sit with them during meals. It is a Privilege, an Honor, to sit with them. They are our teachers, often they have much more common sense, and instincts in tact, about food .. than adults. They activate the love hormones in us too, endorphins, “feel good” hormones.. that make us feel satisfied .. (love IS food) and make us digest our food better because we are more relaxed, happier (if only we’d let ourselves Be like children, have a little fun, and enjoy their company) Those who have children to eat with are lucky, sadly not enough of us know how to include children in our daily lives any more. Best to sit actually ON the floor with them at mealtimes! see how much better you feel, how much more flexible you become! and best of all to hold a child in your lap when you eat.. and share food with each other from our hands.. (add some healthy bacteria to the food to make healthy gut flora) and lots of kisses!

  2. Rather interesting, because RED rooms are known to stimulate appetites.

    • Hi Sharon,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! I completely agree with you there and shall be looking into those research articles too and posting updates soon. Have a healthy day!

  3. Great “new for me” advice. I have been using small plates for years but did not know about red plates and using the large fork. Will acquire them soon.

  4. Thanks for the large fork tip,bacause for 40some years,,i,ve used the small plate method,,,and i do really enjoy exercise,,,especially walking and leafraking with my ipod on of coarse,,,Thank you,,,Mary

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! I am glad you enjoyed the article above and please feel free to share these with your friends and loved ones. Have a healthy day!

  5. I find the best trick is to have a childs dinner table and have the person dieting sit with the kids. Once that person has lost the magic number of lbs they can return to the adults table.

    • This so called trick demeaning to any adult

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Rodger,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! While I do not completely see myself using this “trick”, I thank you for taking part in this conversation. Have a healthy day!

  6. The only thing I’ve been doing is drinking water before I eat; now I have the excuse to go out and buy some new dishes and flatware!! Great and interesting article; thank you for all your research!

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