Hey guys! Today I wanted to share a post with you about portion distortion. A lot of my clients ask me about portion sizes, and what the “right” portion sizes are, and this is usually where I like to start with them. I actually shared something similar to Jen’s readers last year, and I thought you would enjoy this content as well!
Take a look at the picture below and compare the black circles. Does one black circle look larger to you?
The black circle on the right looks larger than the one on the left. Does it look this way to you? They are actually the same size! It’s interesting how the circle on the left seems smaller just because it is surrounded by a larger circle. This is called the Delboeuf Illusion. It’s basically an optical illusion where our brains are tricked into thinking something is bigger when it is surrounded by something small.
There have been several studies done that, similar to the Delboeuf Illusion, show us how plate/bowl sizes affect our perception of portion sizes. Here are two studies that I found to be especially interesting:
- This study done by Cornell University studied campers serving themselves cereal in large and small bowls. They found that campers served themselves larger portion sizes when given larger bowls. Even more interesting… the campers with larger bowls underestimated how much they were serving themselves when compared to the estimates from the campers with smaller bowls.
- In this study participants were shown a serving of soup and asked to pour the same amount into their own bowl. Participants with smaller bowls not only underserved themselves but they also overestimated their serving sizes.
To test this illusion myself, I took 1 cup of kidney beans and poured them into different sized bowls from my kitchen.
It’s interesting how these exact same beans look so different when they are in different sized bowls. If I were serving myself an actual meal here, I would most definitely serve myself a larger serving in the bigger bowl!
Here are 3 tips to help you with mindful eating when it comes to portion distortion:
Don’t be afraid to stock your cabinet with lots of different sizes of dishes. Matching dish sets are nice, but I’ve found that having random sizes of bowls gives me lots of options when I’m making meals and want to serve myself the appropriate amount.
Choose smaller plates/bowls for desserts and really indulgent foods. Really listen to your body and ask yourself if you’re still hungry after you eat from the smaller dish. You can always get seconds if that’s what you feel like you need, but I bet you may feel satisfied with a smaller portion. I’m usually satisfied after I eat ice cream served in a smaller bowl even though I could easily eat double that serving in a larger bowl.
Reserve larger bowls and plates for foods that are nutrient-dense. I love large bowls for salads or when I’m putting together a dinner with several different vegetable servings.
Hope you guys have a great day!!