How big is your fork?

Every once in a while there's a report of a new study that boggles the mind in more ways than one. It's not the "groundbreaking" discoveries that the researchers have made, but rather the "why, oh why?" that keeps repeating in my head.

A team of US researchers have found it worth their while to investigate whether a bigger fork would make people eat less.

Of all the things that they can spend research funds on! I can just picture it: an early brain storming session on a Monday morning and then the Eureka moment: "I got it! It's the fork. It's all in the fork!"

Anyway, for this fascinating study the researchers sent their guinea pigs to an Italian restaurant. After two lunches and two dinners, they found that the diners who used a bigger fork ate less of their food than those who used a smaller one. Bite sizes affect quantities ingested, they said.

However, the team soon discovered that their finding was only true for the restaurant setting. They tried this same experiment in the lab, which also used Italian food, and then found that people who used big forks actually ate more! Gasp, horror! The researchers concluded that there are different motivations when we eat in a restaurant or a lab. End of study.

Sigh.  

In my little universe Italian food and controlled eating don't really go together. Believe me, there's no fork in the world that would make me eat any less of my favourite cuisine.

But hang on, here's a revolutionary thought: while increasing the size of your fork may or may not help, decreasing the size of your plate will certainly lead to smaller food portions and a guaranteed weight loss.

Here at Health24 we may not have huge budgets to spend on absurd studies, but we do have some common sense. Whether you eat with a fork, spoon, chopsticks or your hands, you are guaranteed a slimmer, fitter you if you simply cut your food portions. Admittedly, most of us have grown used to supersized portions, so check out our Healthy Portions Slideshow to learn what healthy food portions should really look like, and enjoy your meals with or without the dreaded fork.

- (Birgit Ottermann, Health24, Nutrition Newsletter, July 2011)

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