Captain Obvious: “Use Smaller Plates, Eat Less Food”

“Clean your plate or you get no TV tonight.”

This phrase was heard plenty around my house as child.  Probably yours too.  Parents gave this command because as children we need all the nourishment we can get.  We were taught well.  As adults we still “clean our plate.”

As Captain Obvious would offer, this becomes a problem when your plate is the size of a hubcap.  Or your bowl can double as a canoe.  We eat until the food is gone.  Put popcorn in a bucket?  Guess I’m eating a bucket-worth of popcorn….

Dr Brian Wansink, PhD, a consumer psychologist, talked about these issues in his presentation this week at the American Psychological Association’s 119th Annual Convention. “People don’t think that something as simple as the size of a bowl would influence how much an informed person eats,” says Dr Wansink.

Dr Wansink’s studies have found moviegoers ate 45% more popcorn from the extra-large container than the large.  And, in a dastardly study, individuals with soup bowls that kept gently refilling ate 73% more than folks who had a normal non-auto-refill bowl.

It is not an intended a dig at Dr Wansink to equate his research to the imaginary Captain Obvious.  Quite the contrary.  His studies (check out his book: Mindless Eating) highlight how our eating is influenced by outside factors.  It seems obvious, but there may not be a more important insight.

Use it.  Order the smaller size.  Get the lunch portion.  Eat dinner off of smaller plates.  Put your ice cream in a small coffee cup.  As Captain Obvious would say “Use smaller plates, eat less food”.  Smart guy.  No wonder he’s a captain…



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