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One Small Change

Switch to Small Plates


A month ago when I committed to eating every meal from 10-inch plates or 6-inch bowls, I was skeptical. Although there’s a significant body of research showing that downsizing dinnerware promotes portion control and weight loss, it seemed gimmicky.

But I stuck with it and, before long, the experiment gained momentum. My smaller dinnerware led to smaller silverware, which led to smaller glassware, which ultimately culminated in trying to eat drive-thru fast food in a SmartCar. In the end, I weighed in 4 pounds lighter for the month without having changed any other aspect of my diet. That’s right, I didn’t reduce fat, cut carbs, or swear off sweets. I simply used smaller implements to eat.

In the 25 years I’ve been reporting on health, this is one of the easiest, most effective small changes I’ve ever encountered for weight loss. In fact, I’m not going back. Everybody else in my house is doing it, and our big plates and bowls have now been relegated to the same cabinet as the Ginsu knife, Slap Chop, Fry Daddy, and other long-discarded kitchen items.

If you’re considering giving it a try, here are some things to keep in mind:

It’ll make you a more mindful eater. This was actually my top goal for the month—to slow down my shoveling and be satisfied with less. And although I still have a way to go to achieve this, it’s a great start. The more mindful you become of what you put in your mouth, the less you’ll struggle with weight control.

It’s easy to get carried away with the concept. You can take this strategy in all sorts of directions. Use smaller serving spoons in casserole dishes. Reach for smaller knives to spread cream cheese and butter. Grate your cheeses. Slice steaks and other meats into smaller pieces. Buy kids’ sizes of packaged food. A downsizing mindset is contagious.

Beware of tapas restaurants. At first glance, these trendy establishments where you share a variety of appetizer-size dishes seem to perfectly mesh with the small-plate strategy. But I found it’s actually worse than dining at a conventional restaurant. You’re with friends, you’re having cocktails, everything looks so good, and before you know it you’ve ordered even more than you normally would.

Unfortunately, a lot of stuff doesn’t come on plates. This is especially true of fast food, which comes in wrappers, boxes and cartons, as if intentionally trying to confuse our sense of proportion. If you absolutely must indulge, bring the sack home and eat only what fits on a 10-inch plate or, if that’s not possible, rip the wrapper into a similar-sized circle and do the same.

Correction: My Ford F150 has 8 cup holders, not 6. Since my last blog, I found two more in the door panels. Where else might they lurk? Under the hood for the mechanic?

I’m downsizing my dogs’ bowls next. I just read some advice that pets live longer and stay healthier if fed 30% less. So my fat Jacks (Jack Russells, that is) are next. I’ll be putting less food in smaller bowls from now on. If they’re anything like me, I suspect there won’t be any stomach growling.

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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: Health, Eating Out, Weight Loss, Calories, Food, Home