As writers we know the actual size of something doesn’t matter much compared to how it is perceived. An object can loom large or shrink into nothing when our hero fears it or needs to find it respectively. Unfortunately, your dinner plate uses the same magic trick on your feeling of fullness after a meal. Visual cues help us to gauge how full we are; if you eat off a larger plate you’ll eat more before you feel full.
A study published in Obesity Research asked subjects to rate how satisfied they were and estimate how much they had eaten after consuming a bowl of soup. However, some subjects were given ‘bottomless’ soup bowls that refilled via a pump hidden under the table. It turned out that if a subject’s bowl never emptied they ate 73% more soup. More importantly, after eating they didn’t rate themselves as more satisfied nor did they believe they had eaten more than subjects with a normal bowl.
How can a healthy writer cope? First, try eating off of smaller plates and bowls. You’re likely to eat less without even realizing it. I’ve found using bowls and serving dishes marked with the size to be helpful as well. I know I’ve eaten half a cup when half of the one cup container is empty, instead of just guessing. I have cheap Ziploc containers and durable Pyrex, both do a great job.
Second, stop and look at your food. When all the right words are flowing from my finger tips, I often eat with my eyes on the monitor and one hand typing. It’s great for my daily word count but it means I’m not visually processing how much I’m eating. Similarly, take your food out of its bag or package. It’s a lot easier to know you’ve had ten M&Ms if you counted them out and put them in glass dish instead of snatching a handful or two from the bag as you stand over the sink.
How big are your plates? Do you think plate size matters? Do you eat while typing too? Let me know in the comments below.
Curious to read that study? It’s here: Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake
Want to make the dish you see pictured above? It’s here: Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops with Red Pepper Grits
When she’s not cooking, buying, or dreaming about food, Rachel Kleinsorge writes steamy paranormal mystery romances. She is currently waiting for the call from her agent, the amazing Carolyn Grayson, while working on her next novel.