Does Plate Size Really Matter?

Another fun-filled weekend has already come and gone…back to the work week we go! Here’s what was happening in my neck of the woods…

Did anyone else have anything fun going on this weekend?


I’d been looking forward to this meal since I went to bed last night, just for the mere fact that I knew it would involve banana bread.


I’ve been having no problem working through this loaf, so I have a feeling that the NuNaturals baking blend was most definitely the culprit of my belly bloat before. Hey, at least I figured that one out, right?

Today’s slice got topped with some peanut butter…


And along with that, I cooked up a veggie scramble made with fresh spinach, scallions, and tomatoes.


So while I was eating breakfast today, I couldn’t help but notice how “bare” my plate looked, which got me thinking a bit more about plate size.


The plate I used today is much bigger than the plates I usually use for breakfast, but even though I was eating the same amount of food, it almost felt as if I was getting cheated.

Just take a look at this…the photo on the left is (obviously) today’s breakfast, and the photo on the right is of the same sized veggie scramble that I had a few weeks ago.


Just looking at the two, the plate on the right (for me, at least) is more visually appealing because it seems as if there’s more food. With all the empty space on the my plate this morning, it felt like I needed to add something else to “fill it in.”

I know this is something I’ve been reading about in magazines and in the news for quite some time now, but I think it’s really something worth mentioning. Because according to the Small Plate Movement,

“A person tends to over-serve onto larger plates, and because people consume an average of 92% of what they serve themselves, larger plates lead to larger food intake. A two inch difference in plate diameter — from 12" to 10" plates — would result in 22% fewer calories being served, yet it is not drastic enough to trigger a counteracting response. If a typical dinner has 800 calories, a smaller plate would lead to a weight loss of around 18 pounds per year for an average size adult.”

I could absolutely, 100% see how this would happen. It’s for this same reason that I can’t end up leaving a self-serve fro yo place without spending five or six dollars…those cups are just so darn big!

Gets me every time.

So the Small Plate Movement encourages people to use 10" diameter plates to decrease the amount of food we eat, without having an effect on our perceived fullness or satisfaction, and I totally agree with them. I try to use our smaller dinner plates as much as possible when eating because it’s just more visually satisfying.

How about you…?

What size dinner plates do you tend to use when eating?

Do you think it makes a difference what size plate you’re eating off of?


  1. says

    Oh my gosh yes! Those fro yo cups are dangerous! I use a pretty regular sized plate during dinner I would have to say that I probably end up eating less when I use a smaller plate. Totally on board for the Small Plate Movement!
    Sarah recently posted..Scramby Egg Sundays

  2. says

    I think that it matters to a certain extent. If I am home and I am using a small plate then it is very easy for me to just get up and get more to put on my small plate. But in the case of the frozen yogurt, I completely agree! Those cups look huge until you end up filling up the WHOLE cup! But it’s soooo goooooddddd 😉
    Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction recently posted..Aruba Part 2: The Hotel

  3. says

    I do, but not quite as much as I’m going to now! I’d never seen a side by side like that before.

    And I love your fro yo! I only encountered it on a recent trip to the US. I completely understand why you love it so much! That has to be an exception to the small plate rule 😉
    Kate recently posted..Hooray for Rachael…and Yogurt

  4. says

    I wrote a post on plate size awhile ago! I’ve switched to using the smaller plates that came with our dinner sets. If I’m still hungry after finishing it, I can always get more, but I know I will feel inclined to eat everything, even if it’s on a bigger plate and too much food. Oh to trick your brain 😉
    Lauren @ Call Me Mrs. Rapp recently posted..Up for a Challenge

  5. says

    The fiance and I were just talking about this! We went and registered that the plate sizes were HUGE, so we got the next size down which was still pretty big and the lady was like those are salad plates not dinner plates, so I told her they were big enough to be plates and we didn’t want big plates because it encourages over eating and she looked at us like we were nuts!
    Jaren@Kiwi Fit Blog recently posted..What A Week

  6. says

    I always go for large plates and bowls….more room for more veggies! :) I think once you get to grips with portion control it doesn’t matter as you know your own body and appetite but as a means of weight loss it’s a good trick!
    Michelle@Peachy Palate recently posted..Getting Stronger

  7. says

    Our dinner plates are fairly large so recently I did buy ones that are a bit smaller for this exact reason. It is something I will look at next next we buy a set of dishes for sure. I always feel cheated too when my plate looks half empty! And the fro-yo comment, same here, the bowl has to be full!
    Lindsey recently posted..Sunday Run-down

  8. says

    I completely agree on the plate sizing! I usually use a smaller plate – so when I use a bigger plate, I have to be careful not to put too much on it! (Especially when going out to eat – specifically a buffet style meal.) Although, if it’s a big plate, I try to load one side with veggies. Can’t go wrong there!
    Megan recently posted..Preparing for a Full Marathon

  9. says

    In my opinion, you can’t over-do veggies haha. So, I just usually fill a bigger plate with more vegetables so it seems like I am eating more! But, I do see this being an issue. Especially when you go out to eat! I always just say, imagine your tummy… then think: can my tummy handle this amount of food? Really?
    Caitlyn M recently posted..Getting my Giggle Back

  10. says

    I almost ALWAYS use a dessert size plate when eating. I do it because it is a great trick for making me think I am getting lots more food than I really am!!
    We also use paper plates a lot(classy, I know!!) and they are almost always smaller than regular size dinner plates. Now that I think about it, I cannot remember when I used an actual “dinner” plate to eat off of.
    Suzanne @ Fitmindedmom recently posted..Change of Plans

  11. says

    I definitely use a salad plate for my dinners. They make me think that I’m really loading up on food without going overboard. I’ve had the case of eyes being bigger than my stomach before. 😉

    And why is a small fro-yo cup so huge?! That is dangerous.
    Alaina recently posted..My Commute

  12. says

    I’ve totally noticed that when I have a bigger plate I just tend to pile on more food! Eek that’s no good haha. I have a feeling though that when I get married I’ll have to get multiple sized plates because Chris will need those bigger ones :). Hope you have a great Monday Courtney!!
    Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health recently posted..Vacation Surprise

  13. says

    i usually use an appetizer size plate (10″ plate) because i totally agree – it’s more visually appealing and makes you think you’re eating more. when there’s so much empty space on a bigger plate, i often feel like i need to fill in the gaps with more food. our dinner plates seem massive too (maybe larger than the average), so i try to stay way from them unless whatever it is i’m eating i really do need a bigger plate so i don’t make a huge mess. have a great day!
    Ashley @ My Food ‘N’ Fitness Diaries recently posted..June Goals

  14. says

    I use salad plates for almost all of my meals. I can’t stand when there is a lot of empty plate space. It’s like my brain doesn’t get the memo that it’s the same amount of food and then I feel unsatisfied. Salad plates are the perfect size for since I like to eat EVERYTHING on my plate and keeps me from reaching that “too stuffed” feeling of fullness.
    Shana recently posted..A Moment of Clarity

  15. says

    Those fro-yo cups are crazy big! And I definiely think plate size matters. I also think whether or not they have a border makes a difference too. I have two sets of plates at home. They are exactly the same except for the print on them. One covers the whole plate and on has just a border. Whenever I use the one with the border, I always stay within the border of the plate. There is no food on the border but when I use the plate that has a print on the entire plate, I have the same amount of food but because it’s spread out more and there’s no border, it looks like there is less. Its crazy how our eyes can play tricks with our minds like that
    Sabrina @Work It Ms Jackson recently posted..A Relaxing Sunday

  16. Annie says

    Yep I think it makes all the difference especially when you’re still learning how to eat intuitively (like me!). I eat dinner on a smallish plate that I fill up to the brim and I’m satisfied afterwards, however when i go home to my dad’s, his plates are much bigger and it can go two ways: either i’ll have a small portion and feel deprived, even hungry later on (it’s psychological as that would be the same portion i’d have at home), or I’ll have a much bigger portion to fill the plate.

  17. says

    I’m the same way! I actually make myself use smaller bowls when I have cereal, because I know if I use a bigger bowl, I WILL FILL IT!!

    Same with Fro Yo, but in my mind there really isn’t too much Fro Yo and if you’re going to get it, might as well enjoy it right?

    But really for me plate size doesn’t matter, I tend to cook just for myself most of the time, so I cook what I know I’m going to eat, but sometimes yes I’ll stick it on a smaller plate/bowl so I think I’m getting more 😉

    Oh the mind. It’s a crazy thing.
    Debbie (Accidently Delish) recently posted..By: Kailey

  18. says

    Absolutely! We eat we our eyes first.

    It reminds me of the variation theory also. For example, if there are one plate of one type of cookie in an office, people would eat less than if there were a few plates with a few different types of cookies. People often feel like they need to try each kind and wind up eating more.
    Angela @ Health Happiness & Harmony recently posted..Margherita Chicken

  19. Katie says

    Very interesting to think about! I usually use the smaller plate while my husband uses the big plate. The only real exception is if it’s something with a lot of sauce served with rice or noodles–I need to be able to soak all that goodness up! I will definitely be more conscious of it in the future though! Excellent post!
    Katie recently posted..The Color Run–Chicago!

  20. says

    It’s crazy that you just posted about this, because I always use small salad plates for my meals to keep portions in check. While I was eating dinner last night at my fiance’s parents’ house, my plate looked absolutely bare compared the the rest of the table because I put my normal portion size on a giant dinner plate. I think plate size definitely makes a difference (and yogurt cup size for that matter) it’s crazy how we truly eat with our eyes.
    Tara Deal recently posted..Nice and Homey

  21. says

    IMO “nudges” like plate size work in the short run, but not so much in the long run.

    In the beginning your behavior will mold to its surroundings a little bit, but if your underlying food needs aren’t being met then your behavior will eventually follow suit and you’ll work around the mini obstacles you set for yourself.

    So it can a positive compliment to behavior, but if your diet and lifestyle itself is not especially nourishing then you’ll eventually go back to the default.
    Jonathan Bechtel recently posted..The Differences Between Whole Food and Synthetic Vitamins

  22. Kristen says

    Plate size helps your hip size, for sure! I eat all my meals on small dessert plates. I especially love when I can go back for a little extra. The only time I use a “regular” dinner plate is for salad! Then get those empty plates out of sight…avoid temptation to fill them up too many times.

  23. says

    I have read many similar things regarding plate size.
    Another interesting tidbit- eating off a blue plate can cause you to eat up to 30% less! Why? Natural foods are not typically “blue” so the contrast of colors looks less appetizing. Also, there is a theory that blue is a calming color and it relaxes the body so we feel more comfortable and want to eat less. Personally, I judge food more on smell than appearance so I’m not sure that would influence my appetite :-)
    Katy recently posted..Polka Dotted Katy

  24. Allison says

    It’s funny that you posted about plate size because I was just having this conversation with my parents last night. I have been using smaller plates for several years now because it looks visually more appealing. We have some large square plates that just leave way too much empty space. I really dislike how oversized they are. The smaller plate makes it look like I am eating more and keeps me from overloading on food at dinner. It’s easy to fill up your whole plate with unnecessary calories. My parents have recently adapted my small plate habits and agree with me. My dad has been on Weight Watchers for a year or so and has lost 40 pounds. His big problem is portion control, so I hope the smaller plates will help him.

  25. says

    I actually never feel inclined to fill my plate all the way. I HATE when my food touches, so big plates are essential! Unless I use like 3 little plates, but that’s a hassle to clean. I just serve my portion and if its not full, I don’t really think twice about it. I guess it would definitely help if you were overweight, trying to lose weight to use smaller plates though, if you like your plate seeming more full.
    Lisa recently posted..Pumpkin coconut bars and tea

  26. says

    I have actually heard that larger plates can lead you to overeat as well, and I think it is absolutely true. I think our generation is all about getting the bang for their buck, so you feel a little jipped when your food only fills half your plate. I have 2 sets of plates at my house, one smaller and one a little larger, and I might have to do a comparison like you did on how much food I actually put on my plate when using the different sizes! Thanks for the thoughtful post!
    Stephanie @My Freckled Life recently posted..Turning into a pineapple

  27. lauren says

    I know magazines and such always say to use a small plate, and I think it is good to use that trick when you’re forming a habit. Personally, I like to keep everything separate on my plate, so a larger plate works for that! I also tend to eat a lot of veggie heavy stuff, and I always appreciate the extra room for more veggies!

  28. says

    Not sure what plate size I use at dinner. I’m pretty sure it’s either 8″ in diameter or 10″.

    I’m definitely sure my food intake depends on the plate size I have. If it’s a huge plate, I’m most likely going to pile up on more food than if it was an average sized plate.

  29. says

    I’m totally guilty of filling up larger plates because I like the “look” of a full plate better. Luckily, some of my favorite cute plates are usually the smaller appetizer size & are perfect for food pics on the blog. I have now started to eat most of my meals on these smaller plates, mostly because it looks better, but I like the idea of killing two birds with one stone!
    Trisha recently posted..He’s HOME!!!!

  30. Carly says

    I think this can be true sometimes but when I have a smaller Plate or bowl I actually tend to overfill it and then when I end up having I put it in a larger container it still is about full haha. So I almost think that for me at least starting with a medium sized plate or bowl I know not to fill it all the way up; maybe I’m just strange like that


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