“Do you have a lot on your plate?”

Optical illusions have long been used in the creation and presentation of food. From renowned world-class chefs to home-bakers, people have found a certain fascination in crafting clever trickeries with food. However, this is not the type of illusion we are talking about here.

Have you ever wondered why a meal that looks suspiciously small in the middle of a huge plate manages to fill you up to the point that you can’t move? Well, this can all be chalked up to an optical illusion that comes into play and how our brains perceive what we see.

It has been scientifically proven that the size of your plate affects the amount of food you consume, and the amount you think you are consuming. This is based off of a concept known as the Delbeouf Illusion. According to this concept, two equal-sized dots will appear to be different when surrounded by circles of varying sizes. The dot surrounded by the smaller circle will appear larger, while the other will seem smaller.

Delbeouf Illusion

Let’s get back to food. Say you have some spaghetti in the middle of a huge dish, with a lot of space between the food and the edge of the plate. Now transfer the same food onto a smaller dish. Your brain will trick you into thinking that you have more to eat now. This means that when serving food on a bigger plate, it’s likely that you underestimate the amount of food and serve more to compensate.

The size of your plate is not the only thing that prompts you to make subconscious decisions about food; the color of the plate has a role to play too. Research shows that people tend to eat less when the plate color contrasts with the color of the food. For instance, when serving pasta with red sauce on to a white plate you are more likely to under serve than when using a red plate. This is because the food pops out more and appears as a larger portion than it actually is.

Isn’t it funny how something as simple as the choice of dinnerware could affect your whole dining experience, and possibly your waistline? So the next time you decide to renew your dinnerware, this is something you could consider!

Words by Sadha
Featured image by Mighty Optical Illusions


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