Smaller plates won't help you eat less when hungry, according to research
Not only does hunger affect your physiological function, but it also affects your attitudes towards food and increases your attention towards food and food-related objects. In that case, dieting and portion control can be difficult when you’re feeling hungry.
People who had not eaten for at least three hours were more likely to correctly identify the proportions of pizza placed in larger or smaller plates than people who had eaten recently.
A popular diet trick is to serve food on a smaller plate so that people are tricked into thinking the portion of food is larger than it is. This illusionary diet trick is based on Delboeuf illusion, which predicts people will identify sizes differently when they are placed within smaller or larger objects. According to classic experiments on this trick, when a black circle is embedded in a larger circle, people perceive it to be smaller than it really is. But a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers debunks this popular diet trick. According to this research, tricking the brain into eating less by serving food on a smaller plate does not work.
To study how food deprivation affects basic perceptual abilities, researchers used size-contrast visual illusions commonly associated with food to explore how your brain processes food size when you are hungry.
The researchers found that people who had not eaten for at least three hours were more likely to correctly identify the proportions of pizza placed in larger or smaller plates than people who had eaten recently. However, this only worked when it was applied to food. Both groups of people were asked to compare the size of black circles and hubcaps when placed on different sized circles and both groups identified them inaccurately. According to the researchers, this indicates that hunger seems to stimulate stronger analytical processing, which reduced illusory bias for food-related stimuli but not for other stimuli.
When it comes to hunger, your brain is not easily tricked. So if you are hungry or on a diet, a smaller plate size may not fool you into thinking you are eating enough. Rather, you may know you are eating less as your brain identifies the portion size, which you then may make up for later on.
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