Trim your portion size, trim your waistline

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?

Breakfast time

  • 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.

Dinner time

  • 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.

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