Why Plate Your Food?

Plating your food demonstrates good table manners and is also a healthy lifestyle behavior that helps you attain and maintain a reasonable body weight.  Sounds like common sense but how many times have you eaten straight from the bag, carton or appetizer table at a party?  I caught my son eating straight from a carry out box the other day and gave him the death stare.  I didn’t even realize I had done it until he said “sheesh” and promptly transferred it to a plate.  I admit I’ve munched on tortilla chips on the way home from the grocery store and even a cookie (m&m sugar) or two so what’s the big deal?

Plating or bowling everything you plan to eat helps provide a visual cue of how much you are eating, from the start point to the end.  According to Brian Wansink, a researcher from Cornell University, the average person consumes 25-30% more food than what they estimate.  If we are eating straight from the bucket so to speak, wouldn’t our tendency to underestimate our intake be even greater?   Preplating your food causes you to go through a series of steps should you decide you want more.  You have to intentionally return to the bag, carton or appetizer table.  It also hopefully prompts the following decision-making point “Am I hungry or not?  Can I afford the second serving of calories and if so what’s the best choice for a refill?”  If your answer is yes, you also create another start and end point based on the portion you choose.  If you don’t finish what you plated you are less apt to mindless munch on what’s still beckoning to you from the table or other containers.

My decision to eat chips or a cookie straight from the bag on the way home from the grocery store might be an example of food sneaking depending on my intentions.  If it’s a once in a while thing that I indulge in, no big deal.  However if I regularly identify favorite items to eat on the drive home from the grocery store, it might be a bigger problem.  Hiding perceived negative eating habits or ignoring the calories associated with certain foods based on where they are eaten creates disordered or unhealthy eating behaviors.  If you tend to be a sneaky fox, I suggest reading the book “Weight Loss Boss” by David Krichhoff or “Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink.  Both are easy reads, provide countless strategies to overcome poor eating habits and are highly entertaining.

Now as for my son, it’s more a function of age appropriate rebellion, instilling table manners, the trail of crumbs throughout the kitchen and mothering.

Categories: Nutrition & Wellness

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