Healthy Habit #5: Two lessons about plate geometry, just in time for Thanksgiving

Lesson I: Diameter blog Plate size by yearsWe can easily see that the size of our dinner plates (and coincidentally, our pants) have increased substantially over the past 50 years. We also know that we prefer the look of a full plate and that–thanks to many of our mothers–we are charter members of “the clean plate club.” We feel obligated to eat what is put before us, even if we are no longer truly hungry.

So here’s a baby step for you. Try eating from a smaller plate, like the nice luncheon or salad plates you have in the cupboard. Or eat your cereal or soup from a smaller bowl. That’s it. Try it for one or two meals. Notice anything? If your spouse is anything like mine, you might get asked, “Are you sure that’s enough, honey?” Bless his heart. As if I’m ever gonna eat less than I need. As if I’m wasting away before his eyes.

Lesson II: Fractions. How can a normal human being balance his or her diet without having to weigh or measure everything? This little bit of Plate Geometry may be helpful, especially at potlucks, buffets, or Sunday dinners at Grandma’s.

Your dinner plate is most likely a circle, right? Draw an imaginary line down the center, dividing the plate in half. Half. That’s how much of your meal should be non-starchy vegetables and fresh fruits. If you have blood sugar issues, you may need to reduce the amount of fruit, but for most of us it’s not a problem.

Now divide the other half of your plate in half again. Each of those sections is now one-fourth of your plate. That’s where your starchy vegetables (corn, peas, and potatoes) and other carbohydrates (rice, noodles, and bread) go. The last quarter of your plate is for protein, preferably lean protein, but that’s another topic.

blog divided_plate_630Do you see how Plate A is different from Plate B? Do you see that the same kinds of items are present, just in different proportions? More veggies and fruit, a little less carb and protein. That’s it. This tip works best of course, if those items are relatively “clean.” To me that means that the meat’s not breaded and fried, that carbs aren’t cheesy, and the veggies, not creamed. But still, it’s a place to start.

blog eat food Geometry Homework: Eat from a smaller plate or in these proportions for a few meals this week. Ask yourself: How did it go? What got in the way? What would make it easier to establish this habit? What’s your next step?

Next week: Steps to Success

8 thoughts on “Healthy Habit #5: Two lessons about plate geometry, just in time for Thanksgiving

  1. This is exactly how we were able to get past our plateau and manage to get to the ‘normal’ range for ourselves. That is such a nifty idea! And it really does work (the smaller plate) making the eyes believe it’s getting a sizable meal.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I eat off my Blue Willow salad plate all the time. This was really great information and a great reminder of what plate sizes looked like back in the day. The same can be said for soda bottles and cans. Portion sizes are so much smaller than we think but once we get used to eating those correct sizes our stomach shrinks a little so we don’t crave more food.

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  3. We shifted to smaller plates a while ago. It felt idiotic at first, but it works. I can’t seem to help filling a plate. Toward the end of my mother’s life, her appetite was seriously diminished, and even though I knew she wouldn’t eat and didn’t want much food, I couldn’t seem to keep myself from putting too much on. The empty parts of the plate just screamed at me.

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    1. It’s funny what our brains will do sometimes, filling a plate no matter what its size. I have a friend who bought and uses a set of vintage dishes, not just because she likes antiques, but because of the smaller diameter dinner plate. Take care.

      Liked by 2 people

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