The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Picking the Right Dinner Plate

Posted in
Eat better

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2008

If you've purchased new plates (for yourself or maybe a bride-to-be) in the past couple of years you've probably noticed the trend toward supersized tableware. Dinner plates that used to be 8 or 9 inches across have expanded to 11 or 12 inches. Some mugs and glasses hold 15-plus ounces and bowls are so wide and deep you could fill them with five cups of dry cereal.

What's wrong with large plates, cups, and mugs? Nothing if you're filling them with leafy greens, water, and broth-based soup!

Research from Cornell University and Penn State has shown over and over that the larger the amount of food that is in front of you, the more you will eat. For many people, eating more when faced with large amounts of food is tied to their membership to the "Clean Plate Club". They have been taught to not waste food by eating everything that is on their plate. For others, recognizing extra-large portions is difficult because they have become accustomed to oversized serving/eating dishes and portions.

So do we need to switch back to smaller plates, cups, and bowls? For some, it may be a good strategy to control portion sizes of high-calorie foods. In other words, eat your main dish on a salad plate and your salad on a dinner plate. Other food portion control tools that have shown to be effective include The Diet Plate, which is a plate that is divided into sections designed to contain predetermined volumes of carbohydrate, cheeses, sauces, and vegetables, and The New American Plate placemat developed by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

We challenge you this week to take a close look at your tableware. Do you have small plates, cups, and bowls that you can use to serve high-calorie foods and beverages? And do you have big plates, cups, and bowls that you can use to serve low-calorie foods and beverages? As basic as it sounds, this strategy can help you cut out some calories.