Small Plates Make a Big Difference

According to a new paper published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, a trick to keeping your weight in check is in the (small) plate.

Researchers looked at 56 studies to investigate whether plate size affected how much people ate. They found that participants consumed less food when using small plates, especially when serving themselves. Just by halving the plate size, participants ate an average of one-third less than they would normally.

This “small plate” effect was even more pronounced when diners were unaware they were involved in a food study (meaning they didn’t know their plates were being evaluated).

Using smaller plates may be especially helpful when dining at buffets, which notoriously serve high-kilojoule foods. Most people average at least 2,100 more kilojoules more per meal at buffets than their normal meals. Adjusting plate (thus portion) size is a good way to avoid going overboard with unnecessary kilojoules. The next time you head to a buffet or set the dinner table, choose the smaller plate.

Your waistline will thank you for it, and they’ll be easier to clean.


  • Make your small plates visible: Putting them in easy-to-reach places, you’ll be more inclined to use them.
  • Keep food on the side: If you want seconds, wait 10 to 15 minutes to see if you’re full before getting up from the table, which will make you think twice about another round.
  • Serve smaller portions: Pair your smaller plates with smaller utensils to decrease portion size
  • Use your napkin and slow down: Using a napkin in between bites is a great way to keep clean, yes, but also slow yourself down from eating too fast. That will give your body time to feel full.

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