Have you ever taken a moment to stop and think about your eating environment, your plates, tablecloths, serving bowls and utensils? If you eat out often, have you ever noticed the color scheme at your favorite restaurant? Color may possibly influence your eating habits.
While it’s obvious that the size of the plate has a correlation to the amount of food that can fit on it, the color of the food and of the plate has a similar effect. Before we bite into anything, we have already assessed the food, and its presentation, with our eyes. Food that looks well-presented will be far more appetizing that an unattractive plate. It is at this time, when we are eating first with our eyes, that food’s color will have an effect.
The color blue is well known as an appetite suppressant (most likely because very few blue foods are found in nature), while white occupies the far end of this spectrum – white apparently encourages mindless eating! Reds, yellows and oranges entice the palate, and green foods makes us think we are eating healthy – no matter what the food actually is!
A recent study shows that if the color of your food matches the color of your plate then one is inclined to eat more, and if they are contrasting colors one will eat less.
To test out this theory sixty adults were randomly tested by Eating Behavior Expert Brian Wansink. At a buffet lunch, they were assigned either to a line for pasta with Alfredo sauce (white sauce) or one for pasta with marinara sauce (red sauce). At random they were handed either a red plate or a white one. Dr Wansink found that those that had matching plates to the pasta in front of them took bigger servings than those who did not.
So next time you sit down to eat, take notice of the colors around you and see whether or not different colors and different foods have an impact on your appetite!
Van Ittersum, Koert, and Brian Wansink (forthcoming), “Plate Size and Color Suggestibility:The Delboeuf Illusion’s Bias on Serving and Eating Behavior,” Journal of Consumer Research