Plus, the perfect-sized plates to help control your portion sizes. (Photo: Getty Images)
New research carried out by University of Cambridge has produced the most conclusive evidence to date that the giant plates and super-sized silverware secretly encourage us to overeat and over-drink.
Researchers compiled data from 61 studies that analyzed the behaviors of 6,711 volunteers. And what they found was that men and women “consistently” consumed extra-big portions when offered more heaping servings on larger plates or in larger glasses compared to when they were offered meals and drinks on a smaller scale. Therefore, the study experts have concluded if people simply reduced their portion size on a regular basis, this one lifestyle change could reduce an average daily food intake up by 22 percent—and as much as up to 29 percent—among American adults.
Co-author Dr. Gareth Hollands, a health psychologist from the Behaviour and Health Research Unit at Cambridge, says the obesity crisis is “far more complex” than blaming someone’s lack of self-control around food. “Our findings highlight the important role of environmental influences on food consumption,” he states in a formal press release. “Helping people to avoid ‘overserving’ themselves or others with larger portions of food or drink by reducing their size, availability and appeal in shops, restaurants and in the home, is likely to be a good way of helping lots of people to reduce their risk of overeating.“
Furthermore, he offers a few ways the food companies and decision-makers can potentially help downsize this ongoing issue. For example, restricting price promotions on larger-size items, offering smaller size items for a better value, as well as store managers placing larger-size foods in less convenient locations throughout the stores.
But how can consumers start cutting back on their portions at home? “Begin by downsizing your plates,” Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, nutrition consultant and author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, tells Yahoo Health. “A plate under nine inches is the best way to help prevent overeating.” She also advises filling half of a smaller dish with non-starchy vegetables, which “will allow your plate to still look full with much fewer calories.”
Also, leave the enormous bowls and platters in the cabinet. “I recommend my patients do not leave the food on the table, such as serving food family style,” she explains. “When it is out in front of you, you are more inclined to pick, take seconds and eat more with your eyes over your stomach. Instead, fill your dish and leave the food out of sight when eating.”
When it comes to the do’s and don’ts of grocery shopping, Palinski-Wade advises going for the snack and dessert items—even the healthy ones—that are packaged in individual portion sizes. However, if the big bags are more economically priced, then make your own one-size servings at home. “Invest in small portioned plastic, glass containers, etc. to easily divide out portions, whether snacks or meals,” she says.
And most of all, do not head to the supermarket when you’re hangry or even “just” hungry. “When this happens, you end up with too many of the wrong types of food and often start snacking as you are unloading the groceries.”
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