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James Clear, a behavioral Psychologist, has explained two concepts of good food habits: Choice Architecture and Environmental Design. He says to eat and drink in the right proportion and to live longer, one essentially needs small plates and tall glasses.

Food habits and the proportions of food intake in today’s world are very important due to the rising problem of obesity. Kids are stuck at home playing video games all day, gulping down fried fatty foods. Bad food habits really affect our life expectancy. Today’s consumer market is all about big, bright and bulky. Even in restaurants, we look for big proportions to feel satisfied, ending up spending more money. Logically, before we taste the food, we “test” it with our eyes and make our selection. Now our eyes can often play tricks and easily fool us. But to eat healthy food and in the right proportion, you can actually trick your own eyes.

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Brian Wansink is a professor at the Cornell University and has completed a variety of studies on how your environment shapes your eating decisions. Most of the ideas below have come from his popular book, Mindless Eating (audiobook).

Small Plates to Live Longer

Sometimes controlling the size of your plate can help you control the amount of food you eat. According to a study conducted by Wansink and his research team, if you made a simple change and serve your dinner on 10-inch plates instead of 12-inch plates, you would eat 22% less food over the course of the next year. We think that by putting less food on our plates we’ll actually eat less, but that’s not the case. A bigger plate has more area and a small portion looks even smaller on a big plate. The same portion on a small plate will actually look like you are having enough on your plate. This is called the Delboeuf Illusion. Also, studies show that people eat 92% of the food they serve themselves. Take two identical portions, one on a big plate and other on a small plate. Psychologically, the portion will look small compared to the area of the plate and hence, we think it’s not enough food. Whereas, the same portion on a small plate will look more in quantity owing to the fact that it covers more area on the small plate.

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Ideally, there should always be some space left in the stomach. The idea of eating is not to stuff yourself.

A few tricks to avoid over-eating that could help maintain the ideal proportion of meals:-

  • Use “Half Plate” Rule

    Fill half the plate, a small plate, with vegetables and fruits. Then add the rice and meat according to that constraint.

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This is how your plate should look like (Source:
  • Use Plates With High Contrast Color to the Food –

    When the color of the plate matches the color of the food, we tend to eat more. This is because the brain has difficulty in distinguishing the portion size from the plate. So using dark green or dark blue is good for serving pasta or potatoes or rice. But not good for leafy vegetables and greens.

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    Showing quantity of food in two plates (Source:
  • Bring the Healthy Food to the Forefront –

    Keep the nuts, fruits, veggies on the top shelves of the fridge. Wrap the salads in plastic wrap or Clingfilm and chips and other unhealthy sides in foil or in smaller containers. So even while eating a sandwich for lunch you’ll more likely go for the fruit or salad and not that buddy pack of Lay’s (should be kept hidden). It’s the old saying that goes, “out of sight, out of mind!” The idea is your eyes will not be able to fool you this time.

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  • Chew Your Food More

    If you chew your food properly, it will give your brain enough time to realize when you are full. If you eat fast without properly chewing your food, your brain will not be able to catch the point where you should stop and you will end up eating more than you should have.

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Image Source: Fullfitsure

Tall Glasses to Live Longer

The amount of drink poured or consumed is affected by our perception of the glass we are pouring it into. When looking at the size of the glass we look at the height and not the width as much. This happens because of the vertical-horizontal illusion. We typically drink 20% less from a tall slender glass than a short wide one. A small glass is thought to hold less liquid than a tall glass, irrespective of equal quantities of the liquid in each, based on its size. Studies show that we can actually pour 70% more liquid and drink 20-30% more out of short wide glass because of the size.

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Reduce Alcohol and Soda Intake –

Use a tall thin glass instead of a short wide glass. I firmly believe that no mortal sin will be committed if you drink your scotch in a tall thin glass. Also reducing alcohol intake will definitely help you live longer! The brain gets tricked into thinking that the taller glass holds more quantity of the alcohol and is, therefore, more filling but it actually does not.

Whether we like it or not, proportions are important. A balanced diet is not just about the leafy greens but the way we proportion our nutrient intake. A few visual tricks can have us eating healthy, drinking more water and less alcohol and overall increasing our chances to live longer. So, if you find yourself going for the chips packets and sugary pastries, a little redesigning of your kitchen environment could be the key to a healthier lifestyle. This will not only ensure good food and drink habits but also improve your overall health of the body.

Being fit is not just about slogging away at the gym and then devour that Kentucky Fried Chicken. Being fit is about being wise, about food and about life. The saying goes, “Go Big or Go Home,” well in this case, small and tall is the definite way for you to live longer!