Countless studies have shown that people given a smaller portion rate themselves as just as satisfied as the people who had a bigger one. The trick is to ensure your snack or meal looks filling. Even if you’re not convinced that you’ll be fooled so easily, try it – I’m always surprised how a perfectly adequate serving can look stingy on a huge plate. This article explains how the optical illusion works…
(And don’t feel “stupid” if your brain is fooled like this too: it’s been shown that even professional barstaff are awful at judging shots in a squat tumbler compared to a tall glass. And food nutrition experts serve themselves more ice-cream when given a bigger bowl.)
So what can you do to quickly and easily keep your portion sizes down?
- Use a smaller bowl for cereal. A 30g portion of cornflakes fills a soup bowl nicely. It’s much easier to pour too much if you have a huge bowl. In the photo, both bowls have identical 30g portions in. Spot the difference?
- Drink juice from a short glass. The recommended 150mls (maybe 100+ calories) isn’t a lot.
- If you’re having a bacon sandwich, eat it off a side plate, not a dinner plate – it’ll look much more satisfying!
In the office
- If you must have a biscuit, take the smallest one!
- At lunch time, fill half your plate or lunch box with fruit and vegetables.
- Buy multipacks of crisps (that’s chips to our US readers). Not only does it work out cheaper, the bags inside these are invariably 10g smaller than those bought individually.
- Use a smaller dinner plate for evening meals. An easy, tried-and-tested way to slash portions sizes.
- Have a smaller glass of wine. If your wine glasses are like mine, they easily hold 175mls, not 125 – so that abstemious “one glass of wine” you’re drinking with dinner could really be nearer two…
- If you get a takeaway, fill half your plate with something light (prawn crackers or a poppadom work well.)
- When at a restaurant, demanding a small plate will frankly look a bit weird. Try splitting a meal with your partner. If you’re drinking wine, just half-fill your glass rather than keeping it topped up to the brim.