It may come as no surprise that the average dinner plate has increased by 36% since 1960. Perhaps you’ve noticed, perhaps not. Perhaps you’ve noticed that waistlines have also increased since 1960. Coincidence? I think not…
In my experience as a holistic nutritionist I have found that most people attribute their weight gain (or difficulty with weight loss) to the inability to control their portion sizes. They are drawn to go back for seconds if the size of their meals are suddenly sliced in half, negating any benefit to their efforts in the first place. There are however a few tricks to overcoming this common struggle.
Research has shown that by switching from a 12 inch plate to a 10 inch plate you eat 22 percent less. A two inch difference in plate diameter would mean a serving that has 22 percent fewer calories. It’s a smaller serving but not so much that you would still be hungry and head back for seconds. For an average adult who eating a typical dinner of 800 calories, the smaller portions that would result from using the smaller plate would lead to a weight loss of around 18 pounds a year.
So who’s up for a shopping trip to update the contents of your kitchen cabinets?
There’s quite a bit of psychology to the filling of ones plate. Place one scoop of mac & cheese on a salad plate and it would look full, whereas putting the same size scoop onto a dinner plate would leave the plate looking a little empty. Perhaps prompting you to add another scoop. Studies have shown that if you eat a full plate, regardless of the size of the plate you’ll be full. Why not use the 2” smaller plate and save yourself that 18 pounds next year?
Interestingly enough there was an ice cream study done in 1975 that evaluated portion sizing and essentially debunked the idea of a cheat-day. Those who were typically controlled eaters actually ate more ice cream than those who generally didn’t pay much attention to their diet. The mentality of “I’ve already cheated, I may as well make it worthwhile” proved itself in these circumstances. In other words, you’re better off to stick with the medium sized plate 7 days a week than to use the small one 6 days and the big one on cheat day. This is also the case for those who measure & weigh everything that goes in their mouths. It encourages unsustainable eating habits in the long run, and when the cheat days come around they are generally cause a significant disruption to the overall goals.
The write down, weigh & measure everything approach does have some merit in re-teaching yourself what a proper portion size looks like however. Our dinner plates, restaurant servings & package sizes from the grocery store are all larger than what we need and we’ve adapted to seeing these everywhere. Using measuring tools for a short while is a good idea when struggling with controlling your portion sizes but not for so long that it controls your life. Apps like myfitnesspal are great for journalling what you eat and learning how many calories or how much sodium is in your favourite foods but weighing every gram that goes on your plate can be exhausting. Use it as an educational tool but not an app that restricts your every move.