One of our goals as a family is to eat healthier and we’ve been adjusting our eating habits to make it easier for ourselves. I used tips from Mindless Eating to make easy changes that have big effects over time.
One of the changes we made were with table settings and believe it or not it’s made a difference. We’re eating more vegetables with our meals and drinking less calories.
You Are What You Drink
One trick to drinking more or less is what type of glass you serve it in. In several studies researchers found that people over and underestimated the amount they consumed based on the size and shape of their drinking glasses – from students to professional bartenders (whose job is about measuring drinks).
So if you’re trying to drink less of those high calorie drinks, getting a tall, skinny glass can be the way to go. However using a short, wide glass for drinks like water can help you to drink more of the good stuff.
What Color (and Size) is Your Plate?
For many people hearing that the size of your plate makes you eat more or less is not news. When you’re filling your plate, you’re estimating the proper potion based on the plate. It’s known as Delboeuf illusion and it can be powerful.
Besides the size of your dinnerware, you need to consider the color of your dishes. Wansink and his team went ahead to see how the contrast between the colors of the plates and food had an effect.
To test the color contrast effect, Wansink and van Ittersum set up a study during a college reunion in upstate New York. Sixty party attendees were split up and directed to buffets serving pasta with either tomato or Alfredo sauce. In line they were randomly handed either red or white plates. After serving themselves, their portion sizes were weighed using hidden scales.
What did the researchers find this time around? The results confirmed their hypothesis: participants who had low contrast between their food and the plates they served themselves on, for example pasta with Alfredo sauce on a white plate or pasta with tomato sauce on a red plate, served themselves 22% – or 32 grams – more pasta than participants with high contrast between their food and the plate they served themselves on (i.e. pasta with tomato sauce on a white plate or pasta with Alfredo sauce on a red plate).
If you eat at home often, check out your plates, not only for their size, but also their color. You may want to make a swap when you serve your meals.
Thoughts on Setting the Table
I’d love to hear from you about what has worked for you. How do you set the table for your family? What has helped you to make better choices?