You may think that you are the one who decide on how much food you eat, but you don’t. A recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research has discovered two ways that your mind tricks you into eating more (or less) without you knowing it. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, then understanding these insights could offer a painless way to do it.
Let Your Plate Control Your Portion When it comes to eating less, researchers have long known that a simple way to cut calories is to use a smaller plate. In one experiment, it was discovered that a shift from 12–inch plates to 10–inch plates resulted in a 22% decrease in calories. Assuming the average dinner is 800 calories, this simple change would result in an estimated weight loss of more than 10 pounds over the course of one year. While studies have proven over and over again that smaller plates lead to smaller portions the reason for this reduction had been unknown until recently. Researchers have concluded that smaller plates cause us to eat less thanks to a powerful optical illusion known as the Delboeuf Illusion. The illusion works because we think things are smaller when we compare them to things that are larger. If you put a small piece of food on a large plate, your mind will tell you that you are eating a small portion and you will automatically put more food on the plate. However, if you put that same piece of food on a small plate, your mind will tell you that you are eating a large portion and you’ll stop adding food.
The circles of food are the same size on each plate. Either way, you are eating the same amount of food. However, forcing yourself to put a small portion of food on a large plate will drain your willpower and motivation. From a psychological standpoint, it feels like you are depriving yourself. Meanwhile, the same portion feels bigger and more filling when you see it on a small plate. The Delboeuf Illusion has been proven to work for a wide range of shapes, including squares, rectangles, and triangles. In other words, it doesn’t matter what you’re eating, your mind will still play tricks on you when it comes to the relative size perception of your portion and your plate. Thanks to the Delboeuf Illusion, downsizing your plates will reduce the number of calories you are eating and allow you to feel satisfied at the same time. Forget about willpower and motivation and let the plate control your portion for you. You can safely and happily eat a full plate of food and still lose weight, just start with a smaller plate.
Pick a Colour That Makes Life Easy The size of your plate isn’t the only thing that determines how much you eat. Researchers have discovered that the colour of your plate matters too. The two men conducted an experiment where they examined the relationship between plate colour and serving size. The researchers instructed one group of participants to serve themselves pasta pre–mixed with a red tomato sauce and a second group to serve themselves pasta pre–mixed with a white Alfredo sauce. Each person was randomly given a white plate or a dark red plate. The researchers discovered that when the colour of a participant’s plate matched the colour of their food, they served themselves almost 30% more. In other words, if you ate pasta with red tomato sauce on a dark red plate, you ate almost 30% more than you would if you had used a white plate. The same was true for eating pasta with a white Alfredo sauce on a white plate compared to a dark red plate. The reason behind this drastic difference in serving size is that when the colour of your food blends in with the colour of your plate, then the amount of food doesn’t appear to be as large. The result is that you will end up scooping more food onto the plate. The higher contrast in plate colour to food colour will automatically prevent you from throwing an extra scoop onto the plate. Typically, this isn’t something you will think about, your mind will just realize that you don’t need another serving. You don’t have to rely on motivation because the colour of the plate is helping your mind make the decision for you.