Early on in my weight loss journey, I used to eat mainly frozen meals (Lean Cuisines, Smart Ones, etc.) for lunch. I really struggled with being satisfied. I knew my stomach had enough, but mentally it just seemed so sad and boring. It just didn’t look like much food, especially compared to what others around me were eating.
To help fix that feeling, I bought a matching bowl and plate specifically to keep at work. I started dumping my frozen meals out on to the plate before eating. It was amazing how much more appealing the meal looked when it wasn’t in a plastic container. Surprisingly, it also looked like a lot more food! Of course, I knew that it wasn’t actually any more food, but it looked like it and that was enough to help with my mental satisfaction.
As the years passed, I became more comfortable with cooking. I’ve stopped eating the frozen meals so often, but I still use my smaller plate at the office. Here’s a picture of one of my recent lunches: spaghetti squash with tomato sauce, apple gouda chicken sausage, and asparagus.
There’s something very satisfying about having an entire plate of food. There’s also something very discouraging about having a plate that is only 1/4 or 1/2 full! Mental satisfaction plays a big part in our eating habits. If using a smaller plate helps us feel better about the portion we are eating, why not do it? Aside from feeling more mentally satisfied, using smaller plates generally means that we will eat less food, even without measuring.
I was really surprised to learn that people almost always eat more when using larger bowls, plates, and glasses. In the book Mindless Eating, food psychologist Brian Wansink performs study after study to determine why we eat, what we eat, and how much we eat. The studies found that this happened to everyone — even grad students and professors who were aware of the studies. In the book he states: “We all think we’re too smart to be tricked by packages, lighting, or plates. That is what makes mindless eating so dangerous. We are almost never aware that it is happening to us.”
I first read this back in 2011 after I’d lost about 85 pounds. I was interested to see what changes I could make in my own life to make the process of maintaining my weight easier. I didn’t want to have to worry about it all the time. We have to make hundreds of food decisions a day without even realizing it. Why not do anything we can to make it easier to make the right decisions? Using smaller plates is such a simple change that can save us thousands of calories.
To make it even easier, consider using portion control plates from Precise Portions. They sell beautiful portion control plates, bowls, and glasses that take the guesswork out of how much to eat! Here’s a 2 minute video explaining their basic set:
In addition to the porcelain dishware, you can also choose from plastic travel plates or eco-friendly disposable dinner plates, sectioned plates, side plates, bowls, and cups. I fully intend to get some of the disposable plates for picnics this summer!
Portion control plates are just one option to make portion control easier. Sometimes having pretty dishes helps make the meal more enjoyable, but don’t let the cost stop you! You can also buy inexpensive luncheon plates or even a plain divided plate. The next time you are at your favorite store, stop by the dishes aisle and check out the selection of SMALLER plates. It is a simple change that could make a huge difference!
Want more? Check out all my Habits of a Loser posts!