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One Small Change

Downsize Your Dinnerware

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Some entertaining yet insightful research was published recently about the Biblical Last Supper. Brothers (as in fraternal, not Franciscan) Brian Wansink, Ph.D. of Cornell University and Craig Wansink, Ph.D. of Virginia Wesleyan College analyzed 52 of the best-known artistic renderings of Jesus’ final meal. They discovered that the plate and portion sizes portrayed had grown significantly over the last 1,000 years. Bread portions in the paintings increased 23 percent, plate sizes 66 percent, and entree dimensions 69 percent. Apparently, the artists were subconsciously reacting to the expanding plenty on their own tables. All of which illustrates the hell we’re in when it comes to controlling food intake. Even God and His apostles are eating more than they realize.

As a result, instead of making One Small Change in my life this month as I usually do, I’m going to attempt to work One Small Miracle. I love to eat, and my favorite summer sport of cycling compounds the carnage. But as I get older and my metabolism naturally slows, it’s getting increasingly difficult to stay lean no matter how much I work out. So something needs to give, and I don’t want it to be the seam of my pants when I genuflect in church. Sure I’d like to lose a few pounds before peak beach season, but what I really want to do is learn how to be satisfied with less food—to eat more slowly and mindfully. This seems to be the secret to lifelong weight control, better digestive health, and even, to a degree, happiness.

One of the simplest ways to trigger this evolution, according to some experts, is by eating meals from smaller bowls and plates. In one study of random diners at all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets, those selecting larger plates served themselves 52% more food (and consumed 45% more) than those grabbing smaller plates. Similarly, another study conducted at a camp cafeteria found that teenagers given larger bowls served and consumed 16% more cereal than those handed smaller bowls. But here’s the interesting part: The small-bowl group actually thought they’d been served nearly 8% more than their large-bowl colleagues. It was an illusion of plenty.

Such findings have prompted Brian Wansink and his vaunted Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University to launch The Small Plate Movement. He’s endeavoring to educate people about this simple change, which he says can significantly reduce serving sizes without inducing feelings of deprivation. Indeed, he contends that by switching from 12- to 10-inch plates anyone can reduce calorie consumption by 20-22% and lose nearly 2 pounds per month. And that’s without changing any other aspect of your diet.

Intrigued? So am I. In fact, I’m intent on finding out for myself if this strategy really works. For the next 30 days I’ll eat all my meals from either 10-inch plates or 6-inch bowls. Will I be hungry, or hardly notice a difference? Will my usual seconds turn into thirds, or will I be strangely content?

Join me in making this One Small Change, and we'll find out together.

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About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

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Tags: Dinner, Eating Out, Snacks, Cooking, Metabolism, Calories, Food

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