silverwareWelcome to our healthy lifestyle challenge lead by our program dietitian Vicki Bovee and her husband Bill. Because we can always do better to live a healthier lifestyle Vicki and Bill decided to work on a weekly challenge together to provide support and accountability for each other and hopefully inspire you to make healthy changes. Follow along with them as they tackle a variety of challenges to eat better, eat more mindfully, and improve physical health and emotional well-being. Vicki and Bill invite you to participate and accept the challenges to improve your lifestyle too. Some of them may be difficult and please feel free to modify the challenges to accommodate your dietary needs and physical abilities.


Challenge # 15 Little bites.
Over the years our plates have gotten larger and hold 30% more food than grandma’s dishes. It isn’t just your plates and bowls that grew. Your knives, forks, and spoons got bigger too. Bigger plates = bigger portions. Bigger forks and spoons = bigger bites. Bigger portions + bigger bites = eating too much and too fast. One of best ways to cut down on your portion sizes and slow down your eating is to use smaller plates and utensils. If you have been to my preop Steps to Success class or are a post-op this challenge should already be a habit for you.
Bill and I already eat off of our salad plates and I switched to the salad fork and teaspoon years ago, but for this challenge we decided to use cocktail utensils or baby silverware for even smaller bites. I still have my kids’ baby silverware but it wasn’t going to get us through the week so I made a trip to Cost Plus World Market and bought a set of 12 each of cocktail forks and spoons.
We started this challenge midway through our trip to Houston to visit my daughter and her financé. I packed our forks and spoons with extra plastic snack-size bags so we could carry them with us to use when we were eating out. We took them to restaurants and used them at the kids’ home. Our first meal with our little utensils was at Houston Space Center. We ordered a sandwich to share and Bill ordered a cup of tomato soup. Out came the little spoons and we quickly realized it was going to take a loooong time to eat soup. After a couple of spoonfuls I decided the soup wasn’t worth it. Bill carried on since he loves soup. He wasn’t quite finished when he figured it would be easier to drink the soup out of the paper cup. By this time the kids were long finished with their lunch and had moved on to explore the exhibits. I carried the forks and spoons easily in my purse and we used them for the rest of the trip and at the airport. (They went through carry-on without a problem.) At home I put them on the counter where we can easily see them and grab them. We don’t even think about using the bigger utensils now.
The researcher in me wanted to know just how much more the larger utensils held so we did a weight and a volume experiment. We got out all three sizes of our forks and spoons, cottage cheese, and Cheerios. Bill took a forkful of cottage cheese, the bite size he would normally eat, and weighed each one. The regular dinner fork held almost twice as much as the cocktail fork and the salad fork held 30% more. But the real eye-opener was the Cheerios. Bill took his spoonfuls of cereal and counted the Cheerios in each. The soup spoon held 24, the teaspoon held 16, and the cocktail spoon held 8. That is 300% more for the soup spoon and 200% more for the teaspoon! You don’t need to be rocket scientist at NASA to figure out if you are eating 300% more Cheerios with each spoonful you are going to be eating more with each bite and most likely more bites. Now just extrapolate this for the day with each bite of each food you eat. You see the problem?
Vicki’s Observations:
• I loved this challenge. I am always working on slowing down my eating and this really helped me. I am continuing with this challenge.
• Using the small utensils and focusing on “If there is food in your mouth there should be nothing in your hand,” (challenge #5) has slowed down my eating. I really make an effort to concentrate on both of these behaviors when I am eating.
• It wasn’t a problem to carry the utensils. It was more of a problem to remember to pack them up after eating at the restaurant.
• I did not feel self-conscious using these in public.

Bill’s Observations:
• I don’t even have to think about this since the forks and spoons are sitting on the counter.
• I have terrible reflux and I feel like the smaller utensils are better for my digestion because I am chewing my food more.
• If I use the big spoon I eat my cereal too fast and I want more. When I use the small spoon it takes longer and I feel like I had a meal. I’m not shoveling, I’m eating.
• When I did the test with the Cheerios I realized that I can no longer go back to using a soup spoon for eating cereal. I am not even tempted to go back to the teaspoon because I like using the smaller utensils and it helps me eating proper portions and taking more time to eat my food.
• In the case of eating “bigger is not better, smaller is smarter.”

Eating with smaller utensils means less food with every bite. This slows down your eating and gives your stomach time to send satiety signals to your brain. By paying attention to your satiety cues you can eat less and be no longer hungry.
With the weather changing, we both noticed we were slipping with this habit. Next week we’ll make our glass full instead of half full.
Eat Smarter…
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD

Want to catch up on what you’ve missed?
The road to success is always under construction.

Challenge #1 Eat everything sitting down.
Challenge #2 Eliminate cheese as an ingredient.
Challenge #3 Walk sideways in your home.
Challenge #4 Include a fresh herb in your daily meal plan.
Challenge #5 If there is food in your mouth there should be nothing in your hand.
Challenge #6 Eat the MyPlate recommendations for fruits and vegetables.
Challenge #7 Stand (and walk if possible) while talking on the phone.
Challenge # 8 Don’t eat out of the package. Put your food on a plate or in a bowl.
Challenge # 9 Keep a food record.

Challenge # 10 Power down while eating.

Challenge # 11 Eating to reduce inflammation.
Challenge # 12 Eating to help our environment.
Challenge # 13 Switch it up.
Challenge # 14 The road to success is still under construction.


Vicki Bovee is the Registered Dietitian for Western Bariatric Institute and leads the non-surgical weight loss program, "Health and Lifestyle Program."
Vicki Bovee is the Registered Dietitian for Western Bariatric Institute and leads the non-surgical weight loss program, “Health and Lifestyle Program.”