Some Holiday Help

Scary Deviled Eggs
Scary Deviled Eggs

I’m really not one for tricks for dieting or sleight of hand however we recently had Halloween here in the US and I think there are some very good ideas in an article I read by Stephen S. Holden at the Washington Post, published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on a recent Wednesday. In summary, the article talks about plate size and color as key to helping people eat less which is important since we have such an obesity issue in these parts. Ironically, anyone who has been to college in this country has also been poor enough to eat cereal out of coffee mugs and dinner on a saucer.

Brain nerd me finds all of this fascinating as we explore optical illusions. But there’s more to it than just providing less space to pile on your hot dish – researchers have found that the portion will look bigger  so you’ll serve yourself less and consume less if the plate you serve yourself on is small. And of course the opposite is true. The reason high end restaurants use very large plates is to create art, right? The food is framed by a mat and frame, if you will, with more space to embellish the food as art 🙂

But the contrast of the food against the plate and the plate against the table cloth also factors into the equation. The more contrast the better in terms of serving yourself less. Fettucini (white) on a colored plate on a colored cloth will result in a smaller portion that white on white.

Most of us realize that restaurants and bars use these illusions by using smaller, thinner glasses (don’t get me started about ice) to create the illusion of more beverage for your dollar. So tall and thin on the glass wear for more conservative consumption as well.

And if your goal is more consumption, a finicky child perhaps, use the opposite approach. Bon a petite!

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