Portion distortion: why plate size matters in the weight loss war

Dinner plates are 44% bigger than in the ‘50s – and slimmers are paying the price. 

If you’re trying to lose weight but the scales aren’t shifting, it may be more to do with the size of your dinner plate than what you put on it. Increasing plate sizes over the past 30 years have had a direct impact on waistlines everywhere.

Back in the early ‘50s, the average dinner plate was 23cm wide. Fast-forward 30 years to the ‘80s and it had increased to 28cm – and today, it’s nearer 33cm.

It should be no surprise then that as our dinner plates have grown, so have we. An increase in the rate of obesity over the last 60 years is parallel with the increase in the size of our dinner plates.

Emma Brown MSc, nutritionist for weight loss App, Nutracheck, is not surprised by the findings:

“We rely on visual clues to tell us how much to eat. People pay more attention to the proportion of the plate that is covered, rather than the actual amount of food. So they tend to eat more when given a large plate because they fill more of it.

“We find it difficult to judge how much food there is on a plate as our brain tricks us into thinking there is more – or less – depending on the plate size. The habit of using a visual clue for eating, rather than being conscious of satiety – how full you feel – is a tough one to break.

“The simplest solution is to use smaller plates – vintage plates are popular today and are usually a lot smaller. It’s easier to do that at home, but it can be more difficult when eating out. Just try to remember that filling your plate might seem like good value but your waistline will pay for it.”

Emma’s top plate tips:

  • Serve calorie-dense foods on smaller plates and save large plates for salads and fruit.
  • Resist filling your plate and always leave a decent border around food.
  • Pile low energy dense foods (veg, salad) onto your plate first so there’s less room for the more calorific items. At least half your plate should be veg/salad, a quarter protein food and no more than a quarter carbs.

When it comes to drinks, follow the same rule and trick the visual cues. Serve calorific drinks in tall, thinner glasses, and use wider ones for water. It’s all about fooling your eyes into thinking there’s more food or drink than there is.

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About Nutracheck: www.nutracheck.co.uk 

  • Nutracheck.co.uk is the UK’s top rated diet website and the top selling diet App in the UK Apple store.
  • Super-fast and easy to use, the App keeps tracks of your daily calorie intake. Add foods in just 2 clicks using the barcode scanner.
  • Nutracheck’s unique food search has product photos to help you easily spot what you ate from the 170,000 foods in the database.

For more information, please call Karen Veness on 07968 049528