While researching what diet trends emerged during the 1960s (aka the Mad Men era), I was struck with how portion size has steadily increased over the last 50 years. Almost all of the dinner plates I spotted in vintage ads, cookbooks, and commercials were the size of a modern-day appetizer or salad plate. Our grandmothers were eating off of dinner plates that were roughly two inches smaller in diameter than the ones that sit in our own cabinets. And while two inches might not seem like a lot, it equals about 30 percent more food!
The thing is, you probably don't need that extra food. In Mindless Eating ($10), author Dr. Brian Wansink explores, in part, the psychology of dinner plates. He was able to prove with some pretty convincing data and research that food intake is greatly affected by the size of the plates and bowls we use. We've been taught to clean our plates, and often finish our food before that "full feeling" even has a chance to reach us.
The next time you've made a meal, put less on your plate. Or, even better, buy smaller plates. Look for dinner plates that range somewhere between eight and 10 inches — chances are, you'll still feel satisfied once your plate is clean. And if you're looking for some guidance or online support, join the Small Plate Movement, whose goal is to help people reduce their portion sizes, while also being mindful of eating habits.