One way of eating less is to serve your food on small plates. Even those of us who like to clean our plates would eat less if we used a smaller plate.
A variation on this theme is a crinkly plate. This tricks your brain into thinking it’s getting a full plate but the ridges hold less food.
Latvian researchers are using the plates to coax people into eating less in a trial that could result in them being sold as a dieting aid.
A review of 72 earlier trials showed that people given smaller plates ate about a sixth less and experts have urged restaurants and cafes to shrink their crockery to help tackle obesity.
But Nauris Cinovics, a product designer from the Art Academy of Latvia, isn’t sold on a small solution.
“My idea is how to make food appear bigger than it is,” he says.
“If you make the plate three-dimensional with the ridges and troughs, it actually looks like there is the same amount of food as on a normal plate – but there is less of it. You are tricking the brain into thinking you are eating more.”
In his trial, 100 people will eat off a normal plate for a week, and then from the crinkly plate for a week to test the theory.
University of Liverpool psychologist Paul Christiansen says: “If people think they have eaten a full plate of food they will feel satisfied. Many people think you have to finish the food on the plate.
“If you can satisfy the perception that they have a nice big portion on their plate, they will think they have eaten a full meal.
“If, on the other hand, you put a small portion on a big plate, they will think they are not satisfied by it and will want more.”
Paul Aveyard, from the University of Oxford, said crinkly plates could be a better option than small plates for people trying to diet.
“People adjust their eating to what other people eat,” he said. “If you come in with a side plate and everyone else has got a big dinner plate, you might feel deprived.”
Not stopping at plates, Mr Cinovics has also developed heavy cutlery that makes people eat more slowly. Each knife, fork and spoon weighs 1.3kg so it’s harder to wolf food down.
“We tested this and it took 11 minutes to finish a meal with this cutlery rather than seven minutes,” he said. The theory is when you eat slowly you eat less, it’s that simple.