There’s a whole subset of scientists out there who study how the environment around us influences how much we eat. From the color of the walls at a restaurant (red and orange boost hunger) to the size of bowls and plates (bigger ones lead to overeating) to whether or not more variety or less variety causes you to consume more (turns out, a jar of jelly beans in many colors is more tempting than a jar filled with just one hue).
Some of the latest research, reported in the ever-useful Journal of Consumer Research, tells us how the color of our food, plates and tablecloths—and the contrast between them—can influence how much we eat.
In short: Want to eat less? Make sure your food contrasts with your plate—such as pasta with marinara sauce served on a white plate, as opposed to pasta with alfredo sauce served on a white plate.) In the study, those who ate meals with more plate vs. food contrast ate less.
BUT, the opposite seems to be true when it comes to dinnerware and the tablecloth underneath. In this instance, study participants who dined at a table where there was LESS of a contrast between the plate and the table, ate less. So dress your table with white on white, for example, rather than dark plates on a light cloth.
What’s this all about? It’s largely based on a powerful optical illusion first described by a 19th century Belgian philosopher named Franz Delboeuf (Check out how it works, here.) Ahh, the mind and the tricks it can play….Perhaps this gives new meaning to the adage about your eyes being “bigger than your stomach!”