If you are one of those people who constantly feels the need to leave nothing on the plate at the end of a meal, you are likely aware of portions and other tips to cut calories. But now a study out of the UK is confirming what many already knew: if you use large plates and large utensils, you eat far more calories than those who don’t.
The study was done by the University of Cambridge, and it looked at results from 61 different studies and 6,700 total participants. It found that when you have larger dishes, you eat larger portions, which leads to a consistent high calorie intake.
In fact, something as simple as the size of a dinner plate can lead to an extra 527 calories in America per day, or 279 calories in the United Kingdom. With other studies showing that fewer than 5% of adults are actually getting 30 minutes of physical activity per day, the need to reduce caloric intake is clear in many western countries.
“Our findings highlight the important role of environmental influences on food consumption,” said Dr. Gareth Hollands, who co-authored the study. “Helping people to avoid ‘overserving’ themselves or others with larger portions of food or drink by reducing their size, availability and appeal in shops, restaurants and in the home, is likely to be a good way of helping lots of people to reduce their risk of overeating.”
Researchers found that if you are looking to avoid the extra calorie intake, you can simply cut down the size of your glasses, plates, and cutlery, and pay attention to the size of packaged foods. You should also pay attention to the serving size marked on packages for an accurate representation of intake.
Another way to combat this issue is to place food further away from the purchaser to make it less accessible. This could cut down overconsumption by about 16% in the United Kingdom and 29% in the U.S. Researchers do note that these steps are mostly up to the consumer to put into effect, as manufacturers likely won’t do anything that may discourage people from buying their product.
Eating at home is the best and easiest way to combat this issue of overeating, according to the study. Researchers recommend that you use salad plates rather than larger dinner plates, measure your servings accurately, and use smaller utensils.
If you need help with portioning, there are numerous resources online that can help. Cooking for yourself rather than eating out is much healthier, and it saves you money and calories.