Want to Reduce Portion Sizes…Try Smaller Dishes

Eating off of smaller dishes can make it look like you have more food on your plate, which can help cut back on portion sizes.  This has been demonstrated in many studies including one done at Cornell University.  Eighty-five people were asked to serve themselves ice cream. The participants were given small (17oz.) or large (34oz.) bowls and small (2 oz.) or large (3 oz.) serving spoons.  On average, those who ate out of bigger bowls served and ate 31% more food than those who were using small bowls, and didn’t even realize that they took more ice cream than the others.

Not only did the larger bowls lead to larger portions, so did having larger serving spoons.  Although the increased portion size with the large serving spoons was not statically significant, those with big bowls and big serving spoons ate 51% more than those with the smaller items.

Just how much of a difference this can make?  Well, let’s break it down.  There are 240 calories in ½ cup of Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla Ice Cream.  If those using smaller plates/spoons serve themselves 1 cup of ice cream they would be eating 480 calories.  If those with larger plates/spoons ate 51% more, they would be consuming 724 calories.  In other words, they would be eating an additional 244 calories without even knowing they were eating more food…now that is significant!

The information from this article was adapted from the following: Beware Big Bowls. Nutrition Action Health Letter. November 2006.