Think yourself slim: manage portion sizes

by Lynn Cardy on Friday, 25 September 2009

Portion size is the big buzz in the weight-loss world - to stay healthy we should all be forking in a whole lot less.

Over the years, some dinner plates have increased from what was around 23cm (9in) to anything up to 30cm (12in). Is it a coincidence that our waistlines have expanded too?

Eating from a smaller plate is dieting folklore and a no-brainer piece of advice, but who does it? Brian Wansink, a professor at Cornell University, reckons that the tableware we use can increase the amount we eat by a scary 20 per cent!

"As the size of our dishes increase, so does the amount we scoop on to them, causing us to serve ourselves more because the food looks so small," says the professor. "If you take a medium-size hamburger and serve it to a person on a saucer, they estimate it as having 18 per cent more calories than if you serve it on a normal-size plate. The same with desserts." So the smaller plate theory really does work.

What's the trick? The professor reckons that by controlling our "tablescape" we can cut down our eating by 15 per cent. Here's a start...

Be an illusionist. 175g (6oz) of goulash on a 20cm (8in) plate is a nice serving. On a 30cm (12in) plate, it looks like a starter. Switch to a smaller plate and make the illusion work for you.

Change your glasses. You'll tend to pour 30 per cent more into a wide glass than a tall slender one. Okay for water but bad for booze - switch glasses!

Brian Wansink's enlightening book Mindless Eating - Why We Eat More Than We Think (Hay House, £8.99) is out now. See

W&h tip
Try using a 22 to 24cm (83⁄4 to 9½in) salad or dessert plate rather than a 29 to 30cm (11½ to 12in) dinner plate - effortless intake reduction! Brian Wansink recommends we also switch to smaller serving spoons. "Smaller spoons equal smaller servings!" Makes sense when you think about it.

Discover other ways to lose weight without dieting 


Control your hunger pangs

Kill those cravings

Imagine a slimmer you

Keep a weight journal


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