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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Try eating off a smaller plate

Joe Marchilena

If the inside of your kitchen cupboards looks anything like mine, you’ve got several options when choosing a plate to eat off.

I look at the plates as perfect for different things. The small ones are good for when I want to microwave something small and I don’t want to dirty a larger plate, or if that small thing is part of a meal for a bigger plate, but I don’t need to warm up everything. ...

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If the inside of your kitchen cupboards looks anything like mine, you’ve got several options when choosing a plate to eat off.

I look at the plates as perfect for different things. The small ones are good for when I want to microwave something small and I don’t want to dirty a larger plate, or if that small thing is part of a meal for a bigger plate, but I don’t need to warm up everything.

There’s the medium sized plate that’s good for snacking or for when I’m putting together a quick meal.

And there’s the large plate, the one I use for the meals I actually have to sit down to eat. You’ve probably got those large plates, too, and if history is right, it’s probably gotten a lot bigger over the years.

No, I don’t mean the plate itself has grown, but rather each time you’ve updated with a new set of plates, they’ve likely been bigger than previous ones.

According to a study in the International Journal of Obesity, the size of the average plate in the United States has increased 23 percent in the last century.

So why is that a big deal? Well, that means there is now 23 percent more space for food, meaning you probably put too much on your plate.

How many times were told as a child that you had to finish everything on your plate before you could get up from the table? Too many, and now it likely comes back to haunt you, or you feel like I feel sometimes and don’t want to be wasteful.

In 2009, a group of concerned people started the Small Plate Movement to encourage families and restaurants to reduce the size of plates, thus reducing the size of portions.

The movement’s website (www.smallplatemovement.org) claims that because people consume 92 percent of what they serve to themselves, a larger plate at home leads to overeating. Changing to a plate that is just two inches smaller in diameter – the site uses an example of 12-inch plate to 10 – would lead to 22 percent fewer calories being served, although it says that’s “not drastic enough to trigger a counteractive response.”

Reducing your plate size won’t help you drop significant weight, but it wouldn’t hurt if it was part of a larger plan to lose weight.

The challenge itself is this - eat your largest meal of the day off a 10-inch plate for one month. The site is also set up to track other changes that you’re trying to make during that time.

And if you want to be really extreme and buy a whole new set of plates, look for ones that have a wide or colored rim. That way, when you put a smaller portion on it, it looks like a larger one.

Joe Marchilena writes a weekly fitness column for Hampshire Hills. To find out more information about the “90 Day Commit to Get Fit” program, call603-673-7123or e-mailhhinfo@hampshirehills.com.