Study: Plate colors can promote weight loss

December 5, 2011 4:52:24 PM PST
Want an easy way to help you lose weight? Look at the color of your plates. The contrast of your plates and your food dictates your appetite. And there's even a color that makes you want to eat less!

Can changing the color of your plate keep you from eating more? Some researchers say yes.

"When I look at that pasta, this portion seems significantly larger to me," Texas Children's Hospital dietitian Roberta Anding said.

The serving sizes were the same. It's an illusion. A trick the eye plays when the food and plate are the same color. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found people served themselves more food if their plate matched their food.

We asked dietitian Roberta Anding and Yvonne Donaldson to help us do a test.

Donaldson served two scoops of spaghetti with red marinara sauce onto a white plate and two scoops onto a red plate.

"On the first plate, the colored plate, the food gets lost. There's no contrast there, so food blends in," Anding said.

But the white plate made the same serving of red pasta look bigger because of the contrast.

"I consciously made an effort for both plates to be equal," Donaldson said. "So the fact this looks different than this one is a clear demonstration of the white plate and what it does."

Pasta with green pesto sauce on a white plate looked larger than on the green flowered plate. The theory is: The more contrast, the less you're likely to eat.

"It's more psychologically satisfying," Anding said.

Is there a color that helps you eat less? Anding says that would be the color blue.

"If you're really trying to watch your weight, maybe what you want to do is look for the bluest plate you have in your cupboard and use that because that's the least appealing blend with food," Anding said.

No blue dishes? Then just make sure your food doesn't match your plate. But beware of red and gold plates, they match many foods and that means you're more likely to overfill your plate.


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