Simple Steps to Lose Weight: Smaller Plates

So it's the new year and in your heart you really want to lose weight but it just seems so daunting. All those calories to count and then burn, it's exhausting. During January, we, your Market Street Dietitians, want to provide simple solutions that can help you lose weight. No meal plans, calorie counting, measuring, etc. Just 4 simple things you can do to lose weight.

Simple Step #1: Use Your Salad Plate

Most people tend to over-serve when using larger plates, and because people consume an average of 92% of what they serve themselves, larger plates lead to larger food intake. As stated in the video above, a 2" difference in plate diameter — from 12" to 10" plates — would result in 22% fewer calories being served, yet it is not drastic enough to trigger a counteracting response (meaning you won't feel starved or overeat later). If a typical dinner has 800 calories, a smaller plate would lead to a weight loss of around 18 pounds per year for an average size adult.

Try this theory out on something small. Over the holidays I went into one of those yogurt stores and bought some yogurt (mmm...eggnog flavored). The bowls they give you to serve yourself are ginormous! When I got home I thought about this blog post and decided I would put the yogurt in a smaller bowl. Whoa! Moving that yogurt out of the over-sized cardboard bowl and into one of my dipping bowls made it seem like the yogurt had doubled.

According to the book 50 Ways to Lose Ten Pounds (Publications International, 1994), a study showed that 7 out of 10 people on a weight loss program felt more satisfied with less food when it was served on a salad plate instead of a regular size dinner plate.

Another study conducted by Dr. Brian Wansick and Dr. James Painter showed how the size of bowl and serving spoon affect the amount of ice cream a person serves themselves. Those participants given a larger bowl served themselves about 1/3 more ice cream. When they used a larger serving spoon, they took about 15% more ice cream. By using both a larger bowl and spoon folks served themselves a whopping 45% more than those using the combination of a smaller bowl and smaller serving spoon.

In another study of obese diabetics scientists randomized half to use portion plates and bowls. The rest simply followed their usual routine and recommendations from their doctors and dietitians. Over six months of use, the group who used portion plates lost significantly more weight. For example a 300-pound man would could lose up to 17.1 pounds.

Scientists have confirmed that the brain takes visual cues when it comes to eating. If we see it, we somehow believe that we have to eat it and will end up feeling unsatiated even if we're physically full. So if we only fill our salad plates there is less to be consumed. It's one simple way to still eat some of your favorite foods but in smaller portions.

Tell us your thoughts about using smaller plates...

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