If you want to see how inflated our portion sizes have become, don’t go to the supermarket – head to an antique shop. You spot a tiny goblet clearly designed for a doll, only to be told it is a “wine glass”. What look like side plates turn out to be dinner plates. The real side plates resemble saucers.
Today’s plates are larger than those of decades gone by.
[N]umerous experiments to prove what you would hope common sense might already tell us: that oversized tableware makes us consume bigger portions.
A large ice-cream scoop makes you take more ice-cream; a short, squat glass makes you pour more juice. Because it doesn’t look like much, we still feel we are consuming roughly the same amount.
[Psychologist] Wansink calls this the size-contrast illusion. The “real danger of these kitchen traps”, writes Wansink, is that “almost every single person in the world believes they’re immune to them”.
Young children, however, are immune:
Up until the age of three or four, children have an enviable ability to stop eating when they are full. After that age, this self-regulation of hunger is lost, and sometimes never relearned. This is a cross-cultural phenomenon, from London to Beijing. One study from the US found that when three-year-olds were served small, medium and large portions of macaroni cheese, they always ate roughly the same amount. By contrast, five-year-olds ate a lot more when the portion of macaroni cheese was oversized.