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Small Forks Make for Big Bites
Eating from a smaller plate may help reduce your food intake, but when it comes to your fork, don’t skimp. Particularly when eating out, it may be harder to control yourself if you eat with a smaller fork. A new study, set to run in the Journal of Consumer Research, tested how fork size affects participants’ intake of large portions served at restaurants.
Bite Sized Portions
Research has found that eating from a larger bowl or food package means eating more food during a meal. Because this suggests visual cues affect how satisfying a meal is, University of Utah professors Arul and Himanshu Ashra sought to apply these previous findings to bite size to determine if it was associated with the amount of food consumed. They studied participants’ intake during two lunches and two dinners where a small or large fork was used. Those who ate with the smaller fork ate more than those who used a large fork. Their results confirm a link to satiation and visual cues. Himanshu says, “In this case, when you eat with a larger fork it visually appears that you are making measurable progress in attaining that goal and you’ll stop eating sooner. Using a smaller fork doesn’t give that same visual indication, and as such diners will end up eating more.”
What’s My Motivation?
Conversely, the study found that in a lab environment, where participants were not hungry, those who ate with a larger fork ate more. The conflicting results suggest that motivation to satisfy hunger mitigates the influence of fork size on overall consumption. Therefore, consider how full you are throughout your meal. Because you have made an effort to satisfy your hunger by spending money and choosing a specific meal to do so, your motivation to get full may influence you to be visually satisfied, i.e. clean your plate, regardless of your internal hunger cues. A survey by the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) of over 1000 adults found that of the 69% who reported eating their entire restaurant meal most or all of the time, 30% would have been satisfied with a smaller portion.
Don’t Lie to Your Body
While strategies like having half your meal boxed prior to being served are effective, lying to yourself about how hungry you are will actually make it worse. According to the boundary model for the regulation of eating, there are boundary lines between hunger and satiety that are predetermined biologically. If this line is blurred by strict dieting or starvation, you may feel even hungrier because the body will compensate for the space between your biologically "realistic" hunger and the hunger you cognitively choose to satisfy. Because the space between hunger and satiety is higher for obese people, a gradual approach to lowering portion size is appropriate. Just as you wouldn’t try to run a marathon after your first training session, slowly draw down your portions overtime and you will remain satisfied with gradually smaller meals. Don't let the size of the fork or how much you see on the plate fool you.
Have you lessened your food per mouthful since eating healthier? Why or why not?