plates 1Welcome 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 # 24 What color is your plate?
Drum roll for our final holiday weigh-in. Our goal was to weigh the same or less than we did the Saturday before Thanksgiving. And the results are in: Vicki -1.4#, Bill -2.6#. Hooray! We did it!

Now most of us know that if we eat off a smaller plate we are likely to eat less. Research done by food psychologist Dr. Brian Wansink of Cornell University shows us that the more food we put on our plate the more we will eat and if we eat off a bigger plate it can be a lot more food. The big forks, or forklifts as I call them, only make overeating easier. Bill and I were already eating off small plates before we started the challenges in July and then successfully implemented using cocktail-size forks and spoons (challenge # 15).

Other things can trick us into overeating such as the color of your plate. So our challenge this week had nothing to do with eating fruits and vegetables as you might expect. It had to do with the actual color of our plates. According to Dr. Wansink’s studies if your plate is the same color as your food you’ll serve yourself 18 percent more food. If you eat pasta, rice, or potatoes on a white plate you’ll eat more. This can also work against us. If you eat, say broccoli, on a white plate you will also eat less broccoli. But, if you eat from a red plate you are likely to eat less of whatever it is because red sends a stop or warning sign to our brain.

In our cupboard we have orange, green, gold, and white colored plates. We went shopping for red plates but we only found them in 4 piece place settings so we ended up buying red paper plates (I know, not very environmentally conscious). We kept them conveniently on the kitchen counter so we would remember to use them.

Vicki’s Observations:
• We used our green plates more than the other colors because we would be out of green plates before we ran the dishwasher. That meant we were putting the lighter color foods on the darker plate and putting our salads on the same color plate.
• It is certainly easier to see how much of a food you are eating when it color contrasts with the plate or bowl. For me it was also more appetizing to see the food contrasted on the plate.
• I don’t like to eat off paper plates so I only used the red plates when nothing else would work.
• I didn’t like the red plates and I didn’t enjoy my food as much when I used them. Was this because of the color or because they were paper? I don’t know.

Bill’s Observations:
• I did not find this challenge that difficult. I usually eat small portions and now that we use the cocktail utensils I take even smaller portions.
• I did use the red paper plates for Christmas dinner. Vicki refused to eat her Christmas dinner on a paper plate. We were having ham, scalloped potatoes and green beans. It just felt right to put them on a red plate. I took small portions and I did not even finish everything.
• I believe this challenge will help folks who have a tendency to fill their plates with large portions.

Bottom line….put the foods you want to eat less of on a contrasting color or red plate. Put the foods you want to eat more of, say vegetables, on the same color plate. This is something so simple we can do all the time to help reduce our portion sizes.
When Bill and I started our challenges we agreed to do a weekly challenge for a year. We are about half way through our year and so next week we look back on our past challenges and reflect on our successes and our learning experiences.
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.
Challenge # 15 Little bites.
Challenge # 16 Drink your water.
Challenge # 17 Count your chews.
Challenge # 18 The 100 Bite Diet.
Challenge # 19 Start your day right.

Challenge # 20 Holiday moves.

Challenge # 21 Limit TV time.

Challenge # 22 The Paleo Diet: Eat Like a Caveman.

Challenge # 23 Sweet dreams.

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.”