Smaller Plates, Smaller Waistline

Heather Reese Health Guide
  • Have you ever thought about eating your soup with a wooden spoon? Sounds crazy, right? But if you've looked at the size of your silverware recently, you may have noticed that everything is getting bigger and bigger – sometimes I feel like I’m using a mixing spoon to eat! And it’s not just your utensils. My co-worker recently received a wedding gift of dinner plates and they were too big to fit in her kitchen cabinets.


    Large dinnerware and utensils are more than just a storage problem. Research shows that the larger the plate or the larger the silverware, the more we eat. If you think about it, it makes sense. A six-ounce chicken breast is going to look a lot smaller on a 12-inch plate than it will on one that is nine inches. And if you’re accustomed to filling your plate, then the difference between filling up those two plates could be hundreds of calories.

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    We are programmed to eat by volume and not by calorie. Even when we are counting calories we think in terms of volume. Can you imagine offering your dinner guest 210 calories of spaghetti instead of a bowl of spaghetti? The thought is funny – but maybe we should start doing just that, because one of my bowls filled with spaghetti would probably be twice the calories you would consume if you ate one cup of cooked pasta and half a cup of marinara sauce (210 calories).

    Below are the two most important things you can do to be mindful of how much food you're consuming:

    1.   Choose Smaller Plates.  You can also serve your meals on your smaller salad plates. This is an easy way to control portions and if you like to fill your plate; you are less likely to consume hundreds of extra calories. No matter what method you choose, be aware of not only what foods are going on your plate, but how much food is going on your plate. Because if you keep filling up those plates that won’t fit in your cabinet pretty soon you won't be able to fit in your pants.

    2.  Measure Your Food.  It’s important to be aware of how much food you’re putting into your mouth. However, measuring every single thing you put on your plate can be time consuming. Instead of abandoning the idea of measuring all together, consider doing it once or twice a month. If you measure your food out once and put it on your plate to get an idea of what it should look like when plated, you can then eyeball it for a few weeks. But it is important to revisit measuring on a regular basis because the amount that you put on your plate will start to creep back up in size.


    Do you have tips for watching your portion size?  Share them with all of us!

Published On: May 18, 2007