Weight gain occurs for many reasons. Genetics, stress, irregular schedules, hormonal changes and such. But perhaps the biggest reason we pile on the pounds is that we simply eat much more than we burn out.
Again, many factors are at play here. Emotional eating is a well-established one–studies show that we reach out for food when we are very happy or very sad.
But there is another, less obvious cause–and it stares us in the face each time we sit down for a meal.
The size of your plate and cutlery.
At a health and fitness camp, campers were divided into two groups. One group was given small bowls, the other was given large bowls. Guess who ate more cereal?
Yes, the group with the larger bowls served and consumed 16% more cereal than those given smaller bowls. The conclusion: large dinnerware tricks the mind into believing we are eating less.
According to researchers at Cornell University, where this study was conducted, this is a typical case of optical illusion. “The more white space around a circle, the smaller it appears,” they explain.
So, replacing your big dinner plates with small ones might help you lose weight. Similarly, eat from smaller bowls to trick the mind into believing you are eating to your satisfaction. Here are three more effective ways to eat and drink less:
Drink from a tall, narrow glass: tall, narrow vessels give you the impression that you are drinking more than you actually are. “People have trouble assessing volumes,” says Laura Smarandescu, co-author and assistant professor of marketing at Iowa State University. “They tend to focus more on the vertical than the horizontal measures. That’s why people tend to drink less when they drink from a narrow glass, because they think they’re drinking more.”
Contrast your food with the color of your plate: Serve alfredo pasta on a red plate, and pasta with tomato sauce on a white one. You will likely eat less than you usually do. This may sound a bit odd, but there is research to show that it can actually help you consume fewer calories.
And the last one might come as a surprise:
Eat with a bigger fork! A recent study shows that large forks cause you to take bigger bites, so you consume more than what you would if using a smaller fork.
The study authors at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City studied diners at a local Italian restaurant. Over the course of four meals — serving two lunches and two dinners — they randomly selected tables to receive either unusually large forks (20% larger than the restaurant’s normal fork) or unusually small forks (20% smaller than normal). They weighed each plate of food before it went out to a customer and once again when it came back, in order to calculate how much each person had eaten.
The results showed that customers given bigger forks ate less, leaving more on their plates at the end of each meal. Time for some cutlery shopping?
Main Image credit: sweetonveg via Flickr