Humans aren’t very smart when it comes to eating.
We just aren’t.
We don’t sit down, decide how much food will meet our nutritional needs, eat that amount, and stop. We don’t eat just enough so that we aren’t hungry anymore. Even if we could, it’d be almost impossible in the world we live in now where serving sizes are on steroids!
Our portions are all out of wack!
Just look at the size difference in the soda alone! Now that’s a big gulp!
You’re probably familiar with the Pringle’s commercial that goes, “Once you pop, you can’t stop.”
(I know what you’re wondering…Yes, that is Brad Pitt in a Pringle’s commercial.)
The reason I mention the commercial is because it basically sums up our relationship with food.
We think we can somehow magically tell ourselves how much food we’ll eat and stop there. But let’s be honest, we rarely ever do. We rarely turn down that extra piece of chocolate…that “top off” of wine…that gut busting slice of pizza.
Eating is often mindless and guilt-inducing.
Now, I’m not trying to make you feel guilty about your eating habits. I have the same struggles. We all do. The odds are stacked up against you – against all of us!
And who’s to blame for this? Your brain. (I know, I know. I need to start giving you better people to blame.)
But here’s the thing – I know a trick that will help you eat less without you even knowing it.
Before I tell you what it is. I want to tell you what it’s not…
IT IS NOT A DIET!!! (Coz diets don’t work. Plain. And. Simple.)
So, What’s the Trick?
Ready for it?
Alrighty then – chew on this (pun intended).
The weight loss hack is you’ll eat less if you eat your food in smaller plates/ bowls.
When you use a large plate, you have to add a lot of food on it to make it look full. If your brain thinks you’re eating less, the more likely it’ll be to want a second serving. (Thanks survival mode).
However, if you put that same amount of food on a small plate, your mind will tell you that you are eating a large portion and you’ll stop adding food. That visual cue will trick your brain into thinking it’s had enough to eat.
At this point, you’re shaking your head in disbelief.
But before you write this off, do me one favor:
Look at the image below and tell me which circle is bigger – the one on the left or the one on the right?
(I’ll give you a sec)
Okay, give up?
They’re the same freakin’ size!
Don’t believe that’s possible? Here’s a photo of actual food on 2 different sized plates. (Remember, both portions are the same.)
Let it sink it…you’re looking at two plates of food…EXACT SAME amount of food!
Is your mind blown? (Heck yeah it is!)
What is This Sorcery?
This is known as the Delboeuf Illusion.
Delboeuf was a 19th-century Belgian philosopher, and he noticed something cool. He discovered if you surround two identical circles with different amounts of “white space,” people think they’re looking at two different circles. The more “white space” around the circle, the smaller the circle appears.
This is why the black circle on the left in the image above looks smaller than the one on the right.
And it’s why the bowl of cereal on the left below looks less full than the one on the right. And that’s why the small plate feels fuller and more filling.
If you were given the plate on the left, you’d probably be all Oliver-like and ask for a little bit more.
Your brain mistakenly assumes a larger plate has less food on it because of the extra white space.
However, if I gave you the plate on the right, you may REMOVE cereal from the small bowl on the right because it looks too full. And that’s good news!
This is due to preferences. On average people prefer a plate or bowl that’s about 70% full. When the plate or bowl is around 70% full, we stop adding food. So if you’re using smaller dishes, you’ll eat less food over time. By hacking your brain, you’ll hack your stomach, which will lead to weight loss.
But Do I Actually Eat Less and Drop the Pounds?
Research shows that having a large plate full of food will lead to you eating the whole thing —just like the Pringle’s commercial. By downsizing your plates, you reduce the number of calories you eat, which allows you to eat less and feel satisfied at the same time.
A study shows that eating from a 10-inch plate instead of a 12–inch one cuts your calories by a whopping 22%! That means this small change could result in an estimated 10 pounds in weight loss over the course of one year!(and probably a few less food comas)!
Another study followed 200 homes in Syracuse over 4 months, and found that people randomly assigned to use smaller plates lost three pounds more than those given larger plates.
But before you run off to IKEA, I should tell you…
This works for drinks as well
(2 for 1? That’s a heck of a deal!)
When you pour a drink, you usually base your decision on when to stop pouring based on the height of the liquid in the glass. You stop pouring a drink when you think the glass is full.
The problem is, you end up ignoring the width of the glass completely.
Short, wide glasses give the illusion of containing less liquid. Because of this, you end up pouring more liquid – on average, 30% more than you would with a tall, skinny glass.
Look at the two lines below – the vertical line looks longer than the horizontal one right? Well, it’s not. They’re both the same lengths. (Go ahead, use your fingers to compare.)
So like the plate trick – choose a taller glass over a shorter, wider one and you’ll pour less. (Or find glasses that mark off the level of one serving.)
Where to Go From Here
“It is easier to change your food environment than to change your mind.” – Brian Wansink
When we talk about healthy eating and weight loss, the focus is always on WHAT to eat. This simple hack is all about HOW to eat.
Portion control is one of the best ways to eat less. However, since restaurants serve meals big enough for two or three people, it’s difficult to control how much you actually eat.
Now, you may argue you know better ways to eat less.
“Hien, I can simply tell myself to stop piling on the food.”
Yeah…I can BS on that.
Forcing yourself to put a small portion of food on a large plate will kill your willpower. (If you even have any left by the time you eat.) When you do this, it feels like you are starving yourself. And I don’t know if you know this, but your body doesn’t like to be starved. It kinda wants to survive.
(Hien – 1, You – 0)
“Fine, I’ll count calories to help me eat less.”
Sure, you can try to count calories and regulate your eating that way, but who the hell wants to do that? Not me. I don’t want to weigh my food, calculate the calories, etc. That sounds like SO MUCH WORK!
Plus, we kinda suck at it. 😐
(Hien – 2, You – 0)
In the end, I’m not trying to convince you to do anything, but I personally think you should give this trick a try. Will it work 100% of the time? Probably not. But the way I see it, you can either do nothing, continuing to try diets (that don’t ever seem to work), or give this a shot and actually eat less.
Remember, rarely is the amount of food you eat based on how hungry you are. It usually comes down to the plate size. By getting science on your side, you can manipulate that brain of your’s and trick your way to eat less and overall better health.
Forget about willpower and motivation and let the plate control your portion for you. Throw out those giant dinner plates and eat less without even thinking about it.
Let your plate, not your gut be your guide!
Thanks for Reading
If you know someone who would be interested in becoming a Jedi with their food, we’d love it you share this with them!
What are your tricks for eating more mindfully?
Share them in the comments below and let’s discuss!