It turns out that your plates are not only functional and stylish; they are also influencing how much you eat and how full you feel. Why? Because your brain is getting in the way.

We often don’t realize how much influence our brain has over what we eat. Along with it’s partner in crime (your eyes), your brain can completely override your real feelings of hunger. Here’s a quick look at how your plate stimulates your brain and affects eating habits.

Size Matters When It Comes to Your Plate

You may have heard that a smaller plate will help you consume less calories. But a lot more goes into it than sheer size and how much a plate can hold. Your brain can be tricked into thinking there’s more food on your plate than there actually is – if your plate is small. It’s all about perception.

If you take the same amount of food and put it on two different sized plates your brain will automatically believe that there is actually more food on the smaller plate simply because of the ratio between the food and plate. Thus, you’re more likely to feel satisfied and full with a smaller portion if it’s on a smaller plate.

It was actually Franz Delboeuf, a Belgian philosopher from the 1800s, who first made the connection between optical illusion and size perception in the brain. The Delboeuf Illusion, as it’s known in research circles, causes us to misjudge portion sizes. So even if you’re trying to be good about eating smaller portions you’re more likely to accidentally overdo it on a larger plate.

Despite this knowledge and recent studies from Cornell University, our plates today are larger than ever. Since the 1960s the size of our plates has swelled.

Average plate diameter in the 1960s – 9”
Average plate diameter in the 1980s – 10”
Average plate diameter in the early 2000s – 12”

Many health experts stress that Americans need to ditch the huge plates and invest in smaller dinnerware. “Our containers are 7” long and about 5” wide, so definitely within the recommended size,” says My Fit Foods Corporate Culinary Analyst Millie Wilson, RD/LD. Each meal completely fills the container so your brain will think that the perfect portions are super sized.

Are Your Plates Too Colorful?

On a recent episode ofBrain Gameson National Geographic, Susan Carnell, a professor of psychology at John Hopkins University, explained that the colors you see send messages to your brain, which influences eating. Apparently, bright and bold colors make food more attractive to your brain. Food marketers know this and they try to lure you into buying things at the grocery store by using colorful packaging.

Being convinced that food is tasty before taking a single bite can be a good thing if you’re not a big fan of certain super foods. But it can also potentially cause you to keep eating when you’re already full or eat more than you may have otherwise. If your plates are brightly colored it could be causing you to consume extra calories. Other research has shown that when thecolor of your plate contrasts with the color of the foodyou’re more likely to eat smaller portions.

Stick with solid white or black plates to keep your brain from being too attracted to the food and tricking it into thinking your eating more than you actually are.

At My Fit Foods we use perfectly sized, black food containers to give you every advantage over your hungry brain. Luckily, our expertly portioned food tastes great without the need of a colorful plate.