How Table Sizes are Related to How Much We Eat

Posted on April 7, 2017

Photo: flickr

A recent study reveals just how much table size can affect the amount of food we consume. Pizza was used as the medium of food in this study; although it is not the most common of holiday feast options, it does paint a very clear picture of how we can make subtle adjustments to be more mindful of the amount of food we consume.

One way to keep us from overeating pizza is to slice it into many pieces. Although this sounds rather strange, since a pizza is the same size regardless of the number of slices it is cut into, our appetites are affected by the number of slices of pizza available. In short, people usually consume less pizza if their pizza is cut into smaller pieces.

As the title suggests, table size is another important factor to consider when making ourselves more mindful of the amount of food we consume. When a table is larger in size, our eyes are drawn away from the small size of the pizza slice, since the pizza will take up a small amount of space relative to the size of the entire table. If the table is large enough, any pizza slice will appear small.

According to the results of the study, the best results were produced when smaller pizza slices were served on larger tables. In a home setting, pizza could still be cut into smaller slices, but smaller plates could also be used, or clutter could be removed from the dining table to make the table appear larger. This will then draw our eyes away from the smaller than usual pizza slices.

This study is by no means representative of all food types, but the strategies suggested can potentially be applied to many other food items. It also shows that the amount of food we eat is not just affected by how hungry we are, or how much self-restraint we have, but could be affected by external factors such as the presentation of the food. Apart from the factors mentioned here, the size of our dinner plates, whether the container in which the food is placed is transparent or opaque, or even the number of people eating at the same table all have the potential to change the amount of food we eat.

These unconscious psychological influences do go a long way, so it would be prudent to establish a healthy “food environment” that would make it more difficult for us to overeat.


Source material from Psychology Today

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