Tasty lasagne with meat covered with cheese served on white plate Tasty lasagne with meat covered with cheese served on white plate If you're hungry, the size of your plate – and, in turn, the size of your food portion – might not matter much. (Photo: stockcreations/Shutterstock)

Turns out using smaller plates doesn't actually help you eat less

A new study debunks the popular diet trick.

If you eat your meals on a smaller plate, does it trick your brain into eating less?

It's been used for years as a way to lose weight. The idea is that if you use a smaller plate, you won't eat as much food. It's actually related to a centuries-old principle called the Delboeuf illusion, which says that the perceived size of an object is altered when it is placed within the context of another object.

The two black circles are exactly the same size; however, the one on the left may seem larger or smaller. That's the Delboeuf illusion. The two black circles are exactly the same size; however, the one on the left may seem larger or smaller. That's the Delboeuf illusion. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

For more than 150 years, that theory's been pretty much unshakable. That is, however, until a few researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel decided to test it in the context of food. Specifically, how hunger affects our perceptions of size.

The researchers conducted two experiments with a total of 113 participants examining the effect food deprivation has on their susceptibility to the Delboeuf illusion.

In the first experiment, Dr. Tzvi Ganel and Ph.D. student Noa Zitron-Emanuel found that people who hadn’t eaten for at least three hours were more likely to identify the proportions of pizza placed on larger and smaller trays correctly than people who had eaten recently.

This only worked, as it turns out, when applied to food.

Would the pizza on this plate fill you up? Would the pizza on this plate fill you up? (Photo: Fotazdymak / Shutterstock)

“Plate size doesn’t matter as much as we think it does,” says Ganel, head of the Laboratory for Visual Perception and Action in BGU’s Department of Psychology. “Even if you’re hungry and haven’t eaten, or are trying to cut back on portions, a serving looks similar whether it fills a smaller plate or is surrounded by empty space on a larger one.”

Which means there's a lesson to be learned here: If you're trying to lose weight, stop trying to trick your brain. Simply eat better! You're welcome.

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Turns out using smaller plates doesn't actually help you eat less
A new study from Ben-Gurion University in Israel debunks the popular diet trick based on the Delboeuf illusion..