If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably pretty focused on what you should be eating to drop the most pounds – but how much food you put on your plate can also affect your calorie consumption, according to a new study published in the Journal of Obesity.
The researchers reviewed 14 studies that asked a total of 1,179 participants to serve themselves food and eat as much as they wanted. On average, participants consumed more than 90 percent of the food that was on their plate. The researchers from Cornell University also found that what kind of food people served themselves had an impact on how much they ate. For example, people who consumed "healthy" foods – such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains – ate 10 percent more than those who ate "less healthy" foods – such as fried chicken or ice cream. And get this: People who ate foods that you can’t consume one at a time – like pasta or applesauce – ate about three percent more off of their plates than participants who ate foods like cookies or carrot sticks.
"If you put it on your plate, it’s going into your stomach," Brian Wansink Ph.D., co-author of the study, said in a press release. "Just knowing that you’re likely to consume almost all of what you serve yourself can help you be more mindful of appropriate portion size."
If you’re serving yourself, err on the smaller side when it comes to portion size. You can also use tricks like downsizing your dishes or changing up the color of your plates to make your portions look larger. And if you’re at a restaurant, don’t be embarrassed to ask for a to-go box at the beginning of your meal; putting some of your food to the side before you start eating it could save you from going overboard.