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How many times have you been invited somewhere for lunch or dinner and at the end you felt bloated even though you don’t think you ate more food than normally? I don’t want to scare you but you actually did eat more than your usual portion. Is this some sort of trickery? Yes, it is! It doesn’t matter if you are at a restaurant or at a relative’s for lunch or dinner. What matters is the size of the plate. Its actually an illusion that you are eating the same quantity of food. We instinctively fill our plates with enough food to cover a specific percentage of our plates. Its a habit we have to measure the quantity of food by the amount it takes to cover our plates. Next time your mother starts filling everyone’s plates with food, stand by her and look carefully as she keeps adding food in the plate until it cover a specific percentage of the plate’s useful area. you will see that she covers the same plate area for everyone because that the amount she feels it will give you the right quantity to satisfy your appetite.
Does the plate size matters? Yes, it does! Take my case for example. If I have an access to a medium size plate and I fill it up to 80% then its a lot less quantity of food than filling a large size plate with the same percentage, 80%. take a ruler and measure the diameter of the plates you normally have dinner in and then measure the plates your mother usually takes out on special occasions or when you have visitors. You will see that the more formal plates are larger than your casual plates and as a result that tricks you into eating more food. what really pushes you over at times like this is that at a family dinner gathering you are usually presented with a variety of appetizers and a variety of desserts I might be wrong here but I don’t think you have appetizer and desert options everyday. So basically by adding the extra amount of food you eat from the larger plate and the extra dessert and drinks, you are looking at a meal that has twice the calories (at the least) of your everyday meal.
You are probably thinking right now “Yeah, OK, I accidentally put more food in my plate, it doesn’t mean I am going to eat all of it”. Well it actually meas exactly that. Many studies have been made in the speed and quantity of food that people eat. most of these studies have found that people don’t stop eating unless their plates are empty or mostly empty. there are many reasons for that.
Firstly, when you are growing up your parents tell you all sorts of things to make you eat your food. things like “the boogeyman eats kids that don’t eat their food” or “the big bad wolf will eat you if you don’t eat your food” or “you should eat your food because there are kids in Africa that don’t have anything to eat”. That psychological pressure you experience at that age stays in your subconscious forever. So when you have food in front of you, you don’t stop eating until the plate is empty because you have subconsciously set a target to finish everything in your plate.
Secondly, people that are brought up by high society conscious parents, teach them to leave some food behind as a matter of good manners. Once again, they look at food as a percentage and not as quantity. They are comfortable leaving a 10-15% of the food behind weather they are eating in a small bowl or a large plate. So the “good manners” help you to reduce the food to eat but they don’t help you control the physical quantity.
Thirdly, during a social dinner where conversations take place or when you are eating in front of the TV, you unconsciously consume food. This makes it even harder to realize when you had enough and its time to stop eating.
Finally, the speed at which you eat plays a big role in the amount of food you eat. The faster you eat the larger the quantity of food that you consume. This is because it takes some time for the stomach to record that its full. Many diet experts will tell you to eat slowly because it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that its full.
Dietitians tend to give you the quantities of food you have to eat in grams or pounds. in that way you can keep a track of the amount of food you eat using a scale and not what you feel its enough. What I usually do is to fill the plate with the amount of food that I think I am going to eat. Have a glass of water and eat half of the food. Save the other half for later. Sometimes when I am too hungry I might take some food from that half in half an hour or if I am not hungry I might eat the other half two hours later. It really spreads my calorie intake throughout the day and reduce the glucose spike in my blood and hormonal production to store it as fat in order to bring the sugar level down to normal.</h3>Summary