Runners have a complicated relationship with calories; they’re needed for fuelling the runs but an overload could have an impact on any weight loss goals.

But don’t let that pre-run bite and a post-run snack fill you with guilt. A trick to finding the right balance is to use the right plates. That’s right; A Cornell University Food and Brand Lab study has stumbled onto a unique solution for those weight watchers. Simply use smaller plates to find that balance and lose weight more efficiently.

The ‘Small Plate’ theory has been around for a while, and the food scientists at Cornell collated 56 previous research studies on the topic while examining the effect of smaller plates on consumption. The test was carried out for a wide variety of conditions that included food type (snackfoods, popcorn, ice-cream, breakfast cereal, rice, vegetables, fruit, etc.), plate-type (bowls vs. plates, serving platter vs. plates from which the food is consumed), portion-size (fixed amount of food served, amount varied in line with the plate-size, or self-served portions), setting (consumers invited to a food laboratory vs. unaware consumers in natural settings such as a buffet).

Combining all the studies showed that halving the plate size led to a 30% reduction in amount of food consumed on average. In the case of plates, reducing the diameter by 30% halves the area of the plate and reduces consumption by 30%. This effect was particularly more pronounced when people served themselves. The study also suggested that smaller plates work best if consumers are unaware that their food intake is being monitored.

Here are a few ways in which you can make smaller plates a part of your life:
• Choosing a smaller plate can be a good tip for when you’re eating off a buffet that is known for its high-calorie servings.

• Same goes when you’re entertaining at home; choosing a quarter plate instead of your regular dinner plate could make a difference to your calorie intake, especially if you’re serving rich food.

• Keep a small serving bowl and plate reserved and within easy reach for post-run snacks.

• Insist on serving yourself when dining out, and take a 5-6 minute break between servings, so you know whether you’re really hungry or simply overloading.

“Just changing to smaller plates at home can help reduce how much you serve yourself and how much you eat”, says joint-author of the study Natalina Zlatevska of Bond University, Australia.

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