Eating Too Much? Check Your Plates!

Eating Too Much? Check Your Plates!

If you’re trying to cut back on the amount of food you eat, consider buying some new plates and even a new table.

“A new table?” you might be thinking. Well, at least a new tablecloth.

While plate size is well understood to be tied to portion size, and while many diet experts have recommended using smaller plates to control portions, plate color has never bee

n considered a factor. Until now.

In a study of over 200 test subjects, researchers at Georgia Tech have determined a solid link between plate color and serving size. Those who have plates – and even tabletops – that contrast sharply in color from the dish being served tend to put less on their plates and, as a result, eat less.

In other words, if you want to eat less marinara sauce, put it on a white, not red, plate.

“Instead of scooping vanilla ice cream into a white bowl, you’d do better by your diet to pick a different color dish,” said Koert van Ittersum, a professor of marketing who conducted the research. He found that participants consistently scooped less white pasta sauce onto a red plate than a white one. Similarly, plates that blended in with the tablecloth led diners to focus only on the food area, and take less.

What causes this effect? The researchers believe it’s the result of the Delboeuf Illusion, which leads people to see identical circles as different in some circumstances.

This brings us to a critical question. For the frugal gourmand without a closet full of Fiesta dinnerware, what color plates are most suitable for the most foods? After all, no one wants to purchase plates for every possible food combination. The answer, according to dietitians, is blue. (Think about it – when was the last time you had a blue meal?) According to the study authors, a white plate will give an accurate representation of serving size more often than not.

And the absolute worst? Red and gold plates were overfilled more than any other color.