Plate Color May Influence How Much You Eat


People do a variety of things to lose weight, like intense exercise routines and extreme diets, but research now shows that one of the the keys to losing weight might start with the plates you serve your food on.

If you want to eat less, color coding your plates may help kickstart your efforts.

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“What you serve food on turns out to have more of an impact on our taste and flavour perception then[sp] I think any of us realise,” says Dr. Charles Spence, author of Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating. He even suggests that you eat certain types of meals on certain plates to help your weight loss efforts. “Snack foods – unhealthy stuff on a red plate – you end up eating a little bit less because it’s that red colour on a plate where it seems to trigger some sort of danger or avoidance signal.

This means using a red plate may help to reduce the amount we eat. The color red triggers a warning signal to our bodies, similar to a traffic light or stop sign.

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This information is similar to a study that was done at Spain’s University of Valencia in 2011. An identically prepared strawberry mousse was placed on both a white plate and a black plate, and 51 participants were asked to eat the dessert, alternating the order of each plate. The participants found eating the mousse off the white plate made the dessert seven percent sweeter, 13 percent more flavorful and nine percent more enjoyable than when eating it off the black plate.

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“White plates generally have a contrasting colour to the food, so people are better able to judge the colour of the food itself rather than being influenced by the background,” says Dr. Spence. “It may also be that our brains keep track of the all the foods we’ve eaten and the sort of plates we’ve eaten them off.”

So while red plates are found to inhibit the amount eaten, eating off of white plates can trigger sweet or favorable food experiences.

Dr. Spence, who is also a professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, hopes that food companies will create sweeter experiences for consumers through packaging rather than additional sugar content.

“By serving food on a white background and reducing the sugar, it keeps the consumer thinking they are eating the same food as before,” he says. “This could help people to perceive sweetness but without the calories.”

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