The reason most diets fail is because they require us to give up the foods we love. Still, we vow to be strong, bravely resist for weeks and then, in a moment of weakness, we succumb to a craving, our diet disintegrates and eventually we rebound to an even higher weight. If this sounds familiar, you should know there’s a way to break this cycle and lose weight for good without swearing off your favourite foods.
Rather than changing what you eat, the secret is changing how you eat it. To lose weight, simply eat from a smaller plate, researchers say. The size of plate we use makes a big difference a study in the US found. These ideas might seem trivial, but by eating a little less at every meal, you will steadily return to your more natural weight.
Switch from dinner to salad plates. Researchers found that switching from 26cm to 20cm plates reduced calorie consumption by about 20 per cent per meal. Not only does a smaller -diameter plate hold less food, it also creates an illusion of plenty by appearing full. This tricks the mind into feeling satisfied with less food.
Choose smaller bowls. In another study people who served themselves ice cream in 500g bowls ate 31 per cent less than those using bowls holding twice as much. And again, they didn’t feel cheated, because the portion appeared relatively substantial.
Use a smaller scoop. The people in the study who served themselves with a 2oz ice-cream scoop ingested nearly 15 per cent less than those using 3oz scoops. When small bowls and small spoons were used, 57 per cent less ice cream was consumed without anyone feeling short changed. Eating with a smaller spoon might help, too.
Since there’s about a 20-minute lag between when your belly is full and the point at which your brain recognises it, slowing your eating with smaller utensils helps you savour food more, causing you to naturally bridge that gap and eat less.
Select a small glass. Using short, wide drinking glasses typically results in about 20 per cent less liquid being consumed compared to tall, skinny ones. Keep this in mind when drinking soft drinks and alcohol.
The possibilities for downsizing your dinnerware (and yourself) are endless. For instance, use smaller serving utensils in casserole dishes. Set out smaller knives to spread cream, cheese and butter. Swirl pasta around a smaller fork. Cut your food into tinier pieces. Buy kid-size snack packages … To win the war on big, think small.
Before embarking on any diet, ask yourself: can I eat this way for the rest of my life? If the answer is no, then don’t even start. Although subsisting on cabbage soup or mail-order diet meals may help you lose weight short-term, you’ll inevitably tire of such restrictions. To be successful long-term, a diet shouldn’t be a diet; it should be a lifestyle.