As we all know, portion size plays a crucial role in how much food we consume. The larger the portion size, the more likely we are to eat more than we should. However, a new study conducted by scientists at Shaanxi Normal University in China suggests that spreading small pieces of food across your plate can help you eat less and lose weight.
During the study, 34 participants were shown 60 different images of chocolate, with all the pictures presenting the confectionery in various ways. The results showed that the majority of the study cohort thought there was more chocolate when it was broken up into multiple pieces. This technique helped them to subconsciously think they were consuming more food, making them feel full quicker.
The authors of the study stated that “a larger unit number increases the perception of overall portion size. The findings may provide advice to reduce the risk of overeating. The results provide practical guidance for nudging less consumption to reduce the risk of people eating larger portions unconsciously.”
Subconsciously thinking there is more food when it is cut into small pieces is called contour integration, a phenomenon that triggers people to incorporate the gaps around their meal as part of the meal, the academics have said.
But, it’s not just about the size of the food on the plate. Prior research from a University of Oxford professor indicated that the ‘red plate’ trick can also help people lose weight. Dr Charles Spence thinks that eating off a red plate tricks your brain into consuming less food, making it a good way to lose weight.
The combination of these two tricks can help you to lose weight by subconsciously consuming less food. The NHS spends £6.1 billion on obesity-related conditions every year, with the number set to increase to nearly £10 billion per year by 2050. Therefore, any way to reduce the risk of obesity is important.
The ‘Red Plate’ Trick
Dr Charles Spence, a professor at the University of Oxford, suggests that eating off a red plate tricks your brain into consuming less food. According to him, the color red reduces our appetite, making us eat less. The color red also enhances our metabolism, which is responsible for breaking down the food we consume.
Additionally, Dr Spence believes that the color red increases our brain’s attention to the food we are eating, making us more mindful of the portion size. Therefore, when we eat off a red plate, we are more likely to pay attention to the amount of food we are consuming and eat less.
The ‘Small Pieces’ Trick
The technique of spreading small pieces of food across the plate is another way to trick our brains into consuming less food. As mentioned earlier, contour integration is a phenomenon that triggers people to incorporate the gaps around their meal as part of the meal. Therefore, when we see small pieces of food spread across the plate, our brains subconsciously think we are consuming more food than if we saw the same amount of food in larger pieces.
This technique can be used for any type of food, not just chocolate. Cutting up fruits and vegetables into small pieces and spreading them across the plate can help you consume less food while still feeling full.
In conclusion, the combination of the ‘red plate’ trick and the ‘small pieces’ trick can help you consume less food while still feeling full. These tricks are simple, easy to implement, and can be used for any type of food. They can also help reduce the risk of obesity, which is becoming a significant problem worldwide.
With the NHS spending £6.1 billion on obesity-related conditions every year, it is important to find ways to reduce the risk of obesity. The ‘red plate’ trick and the ‘small pieces’ trick are just two of the many techniques that can be used to help individuals lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, it’s essential to note that these tricks alone may not be enough to achieve significant weight loss. Combining these tricks with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and other lifestyle changes may lead to better outcomes.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that these tricks may not work for everyone. Every individual’s body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it’s important to experiment and find what works best for you.
In addition to the ‘red plate’ trick and the ‘small pieces’ trick, there are several other tips that can help reduce portion size and promote healthy eating habits. Here are some additional tips:
- Use smaller plates and bowls – Using smaller plates and bowls can help you eat less while still feeling full. This is because smaller plates give the illusion of a fuller plate, making you think you’re eating more than you actually are.
- Eat slowly – Eating slowly can help you feel fuller, faster. This is because it takes around 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. By eating slowly, you give your brain enough time to catch up and signal that you are full.
- Drink water before meals – Drinking water before meals can help you feel full and eat less. This is because water takes up space in your stomach, making you feel fuller and less likely to overeat.
- Plan your meals in advance – Planning your meals in advance can help you make healthier choices and avoid overeating. It also helps you stick to a consistent eating schedule, which can help regulate your appetite.
- Avoid distractions while eating – Distractions such as watching TV or using your phone while eating can lead to mindless eating and overeating. Instead, focus on your food and enjoy each bite.
In conclusion, portion control plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk of obesity. The ‘red plate’ trick and the ‘small pieces’ trick are just two of the many techniques that can be used to promote healthy eating habits. However, it’s important to combine these tricks with other lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet, to achieve significant weight loss and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The study has been published in the journal Food Quality and Preference