Can the Color of Your Dishes Affect How Much Food You Eat?

The color of your dishes might affect how much you eat, depending on the amount of contrast between the plate and the food. A 2012 Cornell University study found that participants ate about 32% more when the plate and the food had minimal color contrast. For example, participants ate more pasta with tomato sauce when it was on red plates than when the same food was served on white plates. This is thought to be because the lack of contrast between the plate and the food makes it more difficult to determine portion sizes.

More about eating behavior:

  • Having a lower contrast between the colors of the serving dishes and the serving background, such as a tablecloth or placemat, might make a person eat 10% less than if there was a higher contrast between the colors.

  • As people age, they need more of a condiment or seasoning to perceive the same taste as when they were younger — as much as nine more, in some cases.

  • A person might be less accurate when judging how large his or her food portion is if it’s served on a large dish, because of an optical illusion known as the Delboeuf illusion. This illusion can make the brain less able to judge the size of a shape when it’s surrounded by a larger shape.

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