Have you ever wondered why you get given a small plate when you go to an all you can eat buffet? They’re trying to force you to eat less, and it works. Research by Cornell University has found that people tend to over serve themselves when using larger dinnerware and under serve themselves when using smaller ones. However, it’s not just size that matters, increasing the colour contrast between your dinnerware and both the food and background (the tablecloth, place mats or other) will further increase the tendency to under serve yourself with a small plate.
It seems that our brains perceive the food as being bigger when it is presented on a small plate, and when there is greater contrast between the food and the plate.
Further, this also affects how full you feel: eating out of a small bowl or plate will trick your brain into thinking you are eating more than you really are, and will make you feel fuller quicker.
Yes, our brains can really be tricked into feeling full!
It’s not just what you eat, it’s also about how filling you perceive that food to be...
Researchers gave a group of people 2 identical protein drinks. Half were told it was a low-fat drink and the other half were told it was a high-fat and calorie protein drink that would keep fuller them for longer. The result: the latter group of people felt much fuller for longer. What’s extremely interesting is that it wasn’t just ’all in their heads’. Ghrelin is a hormone that makes us feel hungry: the greater our Ghrelin levels, the more hungry we are. The group that were told they were drinking a high-fat drink had much lower levels of Ghrelin afterwards than those that were told it was a low-fat drink.
Obviously we can’t trick ourselves into thinking something is filling when it’s not, but changing our plate size can help to create the same effect. Therefore, to help you lose weight, you need to choose a small plate and one that contrasts well with your table or placemat. Oh dear, I’m just off to get rid of my huge white plates…
Maria Hancock,, Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist, Mindfulness Teacher, NLP Practitioner, MSc Health Psychology