Building a perfectly-portioned plate can be a challenging task. Using visual cues and tricks can be helpful when it comes to loading up your plate, but it's possible that your portions will always be incorrect due to the size of your plate.
Studies have found that the average size of the American dinner plate has increased 22% over the last century, from 9.62 inches to 11.75 inches. This, along with various other factors, has contributed to America's obesity epidemic and problems with portion control.
Still think that plate size doesn't really make that much of a difference? Our cross comparison of portion sizes below might change your mind.
We used a visual strategy for keeping a balanced diet by opting to fill half of the plate with vegetables, a quarter with protein, and the remaining quarter with whole grains. Both were served on 9-inch and 12-inch dinner plates to compare the calorie count of each dinner.
For our example, we used the following recipes:
- Broiled Salmon with Peppercorn-Lime Rub
- Green Salad with Simple Vinaigrette
- Browned Butter and Sage Rice
12-inch plate meal: 779 calories
9-inch plate meal: 519 calories
When dishing out dinner, we found that the 9-inch plate perfectly held the recipe serving portions, which were one 6-ounce salmon filet, half a cup of rice, and one cup of salad. The 12-inch plate held one 9-ounce salmon filet, three-fourths a cup of rice, and one-and-a-half cups of salad.
While the 260-calorie difference between the two plates might not initially seem like a huge distinction, the numbers do add up. Here's how the math breaks down:
Adding roughly 250 calories to all three meals every day means consuming on average an extra 750 calories each day, or 5,250 calories a week. Since each pound is equal to 3,500 calories, down-sizing your plate (and consequently removing the extra calories) theoretically could result in a weight loss of 1.5 pounds per week. (Of course, weight loss is more than just cutting calories. You need to also get moving for ultimate results.)
When sitting down to the dinner table, also keep in mind that it's important to be a mindful eater and build a balanced plate highlighting all the food groups. While changing the size of your plate will not be your magical weight-loss solution, it can make a significant impact (either for the good or bad) on your efforts.