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Calorie Count Blog

Small Forks Make for Big Bites


By +Carolyn Richardson on Dec 10, 2011 10:00 AM in Dieting & You

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.


Your thoughts…

Have you lessened your food per mouthful since eating healthier?  Why or why not? 



Comments


I'm an emotional eater, so fork or plate size wont help me. Other than meal time, I have to pay attention to why I want to eat when I'm clearly not hungry. It's usually lonliness, anger, or being bored that triggers me. Now that I'm more aware of this, I've been able to lose 125 lbs. and keep them off. Keeping "junky" foods out of the house helps me the most. 



Thank you for your honest reflection on the article. 

I have discovered from my own experience that fork size and plate size do little for me.  In fact with respect to using the "small plate strategy," I found that only achieved a satisfaction of a cognitively predetermined hunger instead of the true biologically determined hunger. After some success with this approach, I would go through phases in which I just want to eat more. 

Additionally, low blood sugar and sugar sensitivity are major appetite regulators for me.  Restrictive approaches and inconsistent  meals create a lack of equilibrium, which then result in sporadic increases in appetite, as well as  physiological (dizziness and mild tremors primarily) and mood impacts.

Finally, I have discovered that poor emotional processing or persistent states of negative emotions drive me to overeat.  I often eating to resolve anger and other emotional pains.  I find that I will go to the refrigerator and cupboards and roam for those "perfect" fix it foods.   All I achieve at this point is feeling very full and very ashamed and still hurting.  So as to stem this habit, I have a commitment to myself to resolve the anger or pain sooner rather than later. 

I will take the bull by the horns for the sake of my emotional health and a right relationship with food.  It will not be helpful to wait to deal with the problem if it involves another person, I will have to deal with myself...  For me, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I have also determined to pray and meditate on the scriptures as well as talk to a friend especially during these times.



To Philfani1 - congratulations on this great accomplishment!  

To devinediscipline - sounds like you have a plan that's working and that you have inspiration and help along this journey of weight loss.  Hope I can do the same.



The last part of the article interested me as it helps explain why when I know i am eating less, I feel like I am starving.  Gradually scaling down has helped me cut calories without feeling mad hungry. For me using a smaller plate makes me think twice if I go for extra helpings.  This is all reather redundit as, as we speak, i am making christmas cookie dough for our grandkids to decorate tomorrow morning.Sealed



I don't know if it influences how much I do or don't eat, but I like using a small fork. It makes me happy. I do use an eight inch plate for most meals and that does make the portions I eat more appealing and visually satisfying.



meh, I just log my foods BEFORE eating, make a rule not to eat any more than I've logged! and then don't break the rule. there's no need to use fork or plate tricks- just follow what you've decided beforehand!



I know that the plate size thing does sound a little ridiculous...but it has really helped me ALOT! if i grab a smaller bowl or plate, then i feel less tempted to put additional food on my plate. I have already set the rule for myself that i can never go back for seconds. This is so that i eat until i am content and not until i am full. I really do think that plate size makes a difference. I have not tried the fork thing yet...but i think i just might for a short time. :)

Thank you for the 411 on this dieting tip!



Original Post by: philfan1

I'm an emotional eater, so fork or plate size wont help me. Other than meal time, I have to pay attention to why I want to eat when I'm clearly not hungry. It's usually lonliness, anger, or being bored that triggers me. Now that I'm more aware of this, I've been able to lose 125 lbs. and keep them off. Keeping "junky" foods out of the house helps me the most. 


Yep me too...although I am also a child of the clean your plate generation so using a smaller plate as well at meal times helps me to regulate how much I eat. 



Original Post by: missiemarie919

I know that the plate size thing does sound a little ridiculous...but it has really helped me ALOT! if i grab a smaller bowl or plate, then i feel less tempted to put additional food on my plate. I have already set the rule for myself that i can never go back for seconds. This is so that i eat until i am content and not until i am full. I really do think that plate size makes a difference. I have not tried the fork thing yet...but i think i just might for a short time. :)

Thank you for the 411 on this dieting tip!


it's funny, because for me using a smaller plate is like permission to go get seconds... heck i didn't eat that much, the plate was small...

lesson here? i cannot fool a fool (myself :-))



Original Post by: devinediscipline

Thank you for your honest reflection on the article. 

I have discovered from my own experience that fork size and plate size do little for me.  In fact with respect to using the "small plate strategy," I found that only achieved a satisfaction of a cognitively predetermined hunger instead of the true biologically determined hunger. After some success with this approach, I would go through phases in which I just want to eat more. 

Additionally, low blood sugar and sugar sensitivity are major appetite regulators for me.  Restrictive approaches and inconsistent  meals create a lack of equilibrium, which then result in sporadic increases in appetite, as well as  physiological (dizziness and mild tremors primarily) and mood impacts.

Finally, I have discovered that poor emotional processing or persistent states of negative emotions drive me to overeat.  I often eating to resolve anger and other emotional pains.  I find that I will go to the refrigerator and cupboards and roam for those "perfect" fix it foods.   All I achieve at this point is feeling very full and very ashamed and still hurting.  So as to stem this habit, I have a commitment to myself to resolve the anger or pain sooner rather than later. 

I will take the bull by the horns for the sake of my emotional health and a right relationship with food.  It will not be helpful to wait to deal with the problem if it involves another person, I will have to deal with myself...  For me, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I have also determined to pray and meditate on the scriptures as well as talk to a friend especially during these times.


Amen I am an emotional eater too, keep fighting until ur victory is won, It is a battle

I think the only i way can stop eating emotionally is by blind folding myself while i eat but



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