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A Visual Illusion Could Change Your Eating Habits for the Better

November 9, 2013
Kate Morin

If you’ve been to a restaurant lately, chances are you’ve left feeling stuffed. Research shows many restaurant portions are at least double the standard serving sizes set by the USDA and FDA  (and can sometimes be as much as eight times too big). And our plates at home have expanded, too: Today, standard American dinner plates are roughly three inches wider than they were in 1960. So could a specially designed plate be the way to return portions to normal size?

The “plate-plate” collection, created by British designer Duncan Shotton, is a set of three plates (small, medium, and large) each printed with the image of a smaller plate and silverware. The idea is that the illustrated (smaller) plate creates a visual illusion, making the food placed on it seem larger than it actually is.

While the product  — which launched (and is on sale) at Tokyo Designbloom Mart this week — seems to be purely design-driven, the underlying message regarding portion size can’t be ignored. Research has shown plate size can significantly influence the amount of food we consume. One recent study found participants overestimated the portion size on plates with a wider and colored rim. If you’re interested in purchasing a set (and don’t have time for a quick trip to Tokyo), Shotton is accepting pre-orders through his website (about $8 to $10 each), which will be shipped after the Designbloom Mart.

Not in the market for new dinnerware? Try using a salad plate to serve dinner at home to get the same portion-cutting effect.