I once served dessert to my step-sister in one of the small glass bowls that we use for ice cream and other sweet treats. She accepted her serving with thanks and then remarked that her husband called that sort of dish a “discipline bowl.” I got a good chuckle out of it at the time but, now that my health requires that I give some attention to my weight, the term has come back to me.
I have always had a huge appetite. Even when I weighed a hundred pounds soaking wet, I ate like a trucker. Over the years though, my metabolism has slowed and although I’m still just as hungry, I don’t burn off the calories like I used to. I have the belly to show for it. I’m working hard on exercising but the weight’s not going to come off, or stay off, unless I also exercise some portion control.
Over the years I’ve read a number of articles about how larger plates and bowls have contributed to our society’s growing problem with obesity. Apparently, although we would be sated with smaller portions, if we are served our food on larger plates we eat larger quantities. It’s logical I guess: A four ounce serving of meat looks a lot bigger when it’s placed on an eight inch plate than when it’s placed on a ten inch plate. We, with our expectations of plenty, want a full plate no matter how large the plate is.
The theory that larger plates equal larger servings has started me on an experiment of my own. I have custard cups in four, six, and eight ounce sizes. I have cereal bowls that hold either one and a half or two cups of cereal. I have six inch bread plates, eight inch side plates, and ten inch dinner plates. All of these different sized dishes can be helpful in managing my portions. I’ve taken to serving things like cottage cheese and yogurt in bowls will hold no more the appropriate daily serving size suggested by Canada’s Food Guide. I measure my starches using the custard cups, and weigh my meat portions on a kitchen scale. I serve my meals on my eight inch side plates instead of on my larger dinner plates.
Has this portion control demonstrated to me that when using a larger plate I’m eating more than I’m actually hungry for? No. I’m often still hungry after eating the recommended servings of meat, grains, or dairy products. The difference is that I’m a lot more aware of what I’m eating so, when I find myself still hungry, I fill up on fruits and vegetables. The end result of my experiment is that I’m consuming fewer calories without calorie counting and, at the same time, getting more of the nutrients and fiber that my body needs.
Who knew? Three cheers for discipline bowls!