June 3, 2013

Portion Distortion And The Small Plate Movement

The average size of a sample of dinner plates showed a 23%
increase since 1900
The size of dinnerware people use to serve themselves may significantly influence how much food they consume on a day-to-day basis. Big plates - big servings - big waist (and waste).
"From a consumer welfare perspective, the effect of dinnerware size on serving behavior is significant, since the average size of a sample of dinner plates increased almost 23%, from 9.6 inches to 11.8 inches, since 1900.  
Should the size of a plate or bowl encourage a person to eat only 50 more calories a day, the resulting mathematical increase in weight would be approximately 5 pounds each year." - source
These days it is almost expected that you will want to eat too much. Look at portions in restaurants - they could provide enough calories to feed two or three people. Sharing a dish with someone is a good way to get over super-sized 'single' servings. 

There is another simple way to overcome super-sized servings - serve your food on a smaller plate. You could call it the small plate diet. The three most popular health-related websites each recommend that consumers replace larger dinnerware with smaller dinnerware to reduce consumption.

Of this approach, Brian Wansink says, "A person tends to over-serve onto larger plates, and because people consume an average of 92% of what they serve themselves, larger plates lead to larger food intake."

He points out that "a two inch difference in plate diameter - from 12" to 10" plates - would result in 22% fewer calories being served".

This method is so simple, straightforward, and effective that a Small Plate Movement has been promoted as one way to reduce over-consumption of food and the problems associated with this wasteful practice.

Research has shown that serving food on to a smaller plate does not have an effect on the diner's perceived fullness or satisfaction after the meal.

What you put on your plate is even more important than the size of your plate. Say goodbye to barbecued T-bone steaks that cover an entire large platter. About the size of a deck of cards is a more appropriate amount if you are eating meat.




Generally, a serving should consist of a 1/2 plate of fruit and vegetables, 1/4 plate of grains and starches, and 1/4 plate of protein (beans, tofu, fish, poultry, lean red meat).

Smaller plates + smaller, more balanced servings = smaller waistlines + reduced food waste.

Fight portion distortion and join the small plate movement. Switching to smaller plates, and carefully controlling what goes on to those plates, will keep you and the planet healthy and happy.

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