It’s Thanksgiving, and at my family get-togethers there’s one story that’s always told.
When I was in high school, I was a bit heavy for my height and looking to drop some weight. I read somewhere that serving Thanksgiving dinner on smaller plates helps you to eat less.
It struck me as brilliant at the time. So when it came time to eat, I ask that my mother set her beautiful table with a salad dish in place of my dinner plate. I became the butt of many jokes as a result.
But the last laugh was on me. It worked! In fact, these days when I serve dinner, my family uses salad plates instead of dinner plates. As you may have noticed, over the last few decades, plates sizes have grown significantly. In fact today’s salad plates are the size that dinner plates were decades ago. (If you’ve been lucky enough to inherit your grandmother’s China, you can back me up on this.)
Everyone loves the eye-candy of a full plate, so how do you keep portions in check and enjoy the bounty? Smaller plates work. Plus, my husband loves to go back to the kitchen for seconds (and as the cook, I find requests for seconds the ultimate compliment, so I don’t want to dissuade). He feels a lot less guilty about back for seconds when he’s using a smaller plate.
In addition to changing the size of your plates, take a second look at your glasses, too. I’m a water kind of gal, but if you serve juice or milk in glassware, those calories can add up quickly.
When I first started dating my husband, my stepdaughter loved making her famous smoothies. Generous by nature, she’d reach for the largest glasses in the house and pour the smoothie to the rim. For reasons unclear to me, my husband’s glassware started at 16 ounces and went up from there.
I didn’t want to chug a 22-ounce smoothie, which would run me an extra 500 to 600 calories, but I also didn’t want to turn down her efforts or (even worse!) turn off her kitchen enthusiasm.
It wasn’t long before I swapped out those mega-cups for 8 ounce juice glasses. And fun straws.
Portion control doesn’t have to mean skimpy servings on a big plate. It’s an excuse to go shopping for new plates!
I’d rather have a small bite of something fabulous than a big portion of something less delicious. Frozen desserts are a great example of this. My husband and I recently went to dinner, and just wanted a little something sweet afterwards. We went to a nearby yogurt shop, the kind where you pull the handle and fill a bucket with all the yogurt and toppings you can fit in the thing. That bucket is a more appropriate size for movie popcorn than dessert.
My husband asked for a taste. He smacked his lips and said, “Well, I’m satisfied.” Because all he wanted was a little something sweet. I can’t take a sample without being a good patron, so I grabbed a bucket, and filled it with the amount of yogurt I wanted. It looked pathetic. The little squirt of yogurt looked so tiny and lonely in that big bucket. I put some sprinkles on top and it still looked sad.
We brought our yogurt for the weigh-in; dessert cost less than a dollar. That tiny portion made my eyes sad but my mouth and body happy. And in addition to my calorie savings, that adds up to cost savings. So I can take the money we didn’t spend and put it aside to buy parfait glasses; something that gives my smaller portion the respect it deserves.