Illusion of deceit or What color should the plate be?

Does the color of your plate affect how much you eat? A new study by Drs. Brion Vansilk and Koert van Ittersam has shown that the color contrast between food and utensils creates an optical illusion. Back in 1865 Belgian scientists pointed out the existence of this effect. According to their findings, when a person looks at concentric circles, the outer circle appears larger and the inner circle appears smaller. Today, a link has been found between the color of dishes and serving size.

Building on previous research, Wansink and van Ittersam conducted a series of experiments to understand other illusions associated with color and eating behavior. They studied the influence of not only the color of the dishes, but also the contrast with the tablecloth, the influence of the size of the plate on the attention and mindfulness of eating. 

For the experiment, the researchers chose college students in upstate New York. Sixty participants went to the buffet, where they were offered pasta with sauce. The subjects received red and white plates in their hands. A hidden scale kept track of how much food the students put on their plate. The results confirmed the hypothesis: pasta with tomato sauce on a red plate or with Alfredo sauce on a white plate, participants put 30% more than in the case when the food contrasted with the dishes. But if such an effect exists on an ongoing basis, imagine how much excess we eat! Interestingly enough, the color contrast between the table and dishes helps to reduce portions by 10%.

In addition, Vansilk and van Ittersam further confirmed that the larger the plate, the smaller its contents seem. Even knowledgeable people who know about optical illusions fall for this deception.

Choose dishes according to the goal of eating more or less. If you want to lose weight, serve the dish on a contrast plate. Want to eat more greens? Serve it on a green plate. Choose a tablecloth that matches your dinnerware and the optical illusion will have less of an impact. Remember, a big plate is a big mistake! If it is not possible to get dishes of different colors, place your food on small plates.



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