Cornell researcher Brian Wansink, Ph.D. studies the psychology of food choices and the determinants of what and how much we eat. He’s written a book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, that details how the environment in which we eat unconsciously influences what and how much we eat. The book, and these portion plates, are great holiday gift ideas.
One of Wansink’s most interesting studies was of an ice cream party held at Cornell University in which students and nutrition faculty were invited to socialize and eat ice cream. The attendees did not know that they were being studied, but Wansink was watching how much ice cream each person was serving themselves. There were large bowls and small bowls, and large serving spoons and small serving spoons.
Can you believe that those using a larger bowl ate 30% more than those using the smaller bowl? If they had a large bowl AND a large serving spoon, they ate 57% more ice cream. Another disconcerting result from this study is that those who ate more ice cream did not rate their fullness any higher or did they realize that they had eaten any more than those eating out of small bowls. It was all unconscious and the effects of bowl size impacted students and nutrition professionals equally.
Give the gift of unconscious portion control with a new set of SMALL bowls or plates or a set of these Slimware portion plates that have portion size built into the design of the plate. They have a cute set of bowls too.
The plate allows you to remain stylish while moderating your portion size. The large flower is for non-starchy vegetables; it’s about 1 cup. The medium sized flower is for the starch, such as rice, potatoes, corn, beans, peas, pasta etc; it’s about ½ cup. The smallest part of the design is for protein-rich foods, such as meat, and there’s a little extension to it with the nearby leaf for “healthy” choices like fish or skinless chicken; it’s about 3-4 ounces.
Here’s a perfectly portioned and balanced plate: a simple salad, Crusted Chicken and Oat Risotto.
The very important lesson that we’ve learned from Wansink’s research is that visual cues are quite influential in determining how much we eat and how much we think that we are eating. Use smaller bowls, plates and serving spoons and consider a portion plate that cues you to keep your portions in check. The great thing about portion control from a plate is that your are able to unconsciously moderate your calorie intake. You don’t have to constantly remind yourself to practice portion control. Your eyes do part of the work for you.
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