Beside taste and hunger level, food’s appearance plays a great deal in determining how much that you will eat. There’s a reason why meals at fine dining restaurant are always presented chicly. It’s because we tend to enjoy the food more when the food is presented beautifully. We don’t eat for the sake of our stomach solely; we also eat for our eyes. And sometimes, it’s the eyes which decide how much we eat instead of the stomach. So here are four visual factors which can affect our appetite.

1. Big Plate or Container

When we are given a plate and asked to take whatever food that we like, then we tend to fill the plate. Similarly, people tend to eat more when they are given a bigger container without realizing that they consume more than they usually do. People tend to count calories based on their eyes instead of their stomach.

A study published in Obesity Research asked people to eat their meal until they are full and then someday they were asked to eat blindfolded and they ate 22% less food without feeling less hungry. And no, I am not going to suggest that you eat while being blindfolded but I’ll suggest you to use medium or small sized plates if you haven’t used them.

2. No end signal

We tend to eat and eat until something tells us to stop. And the stop signal is often given by the package of our snacks instead of our stomach. Before we hit the bottom of the bag, we tend not to stop our eating.

In a research from Food and Brand Lab in Cornell University, the researchers carefully prepare two packages of crackers to be given to an entire class. One package consisted of one large bag containing 44 crackers while the other package contained four small bags each contained 11 crackers. The students who were given the large bags consumed 50% more than the one which were given the four small bags. Try to pour your snacks on a plate or bowl which you can measure and see easily and carefully store the leftover for future consumption.

By using bowl or plate, you can determine how much that you will eat and when that you will stop instead of letting the size of the packages decide it.

3. More Colors equals to more consumption

We like colorful food. It’s pleasant to both eye and our brain although they may not taste the same. That’s the reason also why people bother to color chocolate candies with various vivid colors although they don’t taste really different. Another research by Cornell University found that people ate more when they were given more varieties. They gave two groups of people two bowl of candies; the first one contained four colors while the other one contained six colors. The second group with more varieties of candies ate more candies.

4. Leftover

Beside the image of a clean plate after a meal, there’s one more thing which can deter us from overeating. It’s the leftover food. Study done by Cornell University asked two groups of people to eat chicken wings. The first group had the leftover bone stacked in the table while the second group had the leftover thrashed away immediately. As a result the first group ate 27% less. I guess stashing dirty plates may do the trick too if you have no objection whatsoever too uncleanness.


  1. Suzie said...

    I am what you call 'the victim of large popcorn' :D. Whenever I want to snack on popcorn or chips, I always buy the largest package available since I am sharing it with my boyfriend. The bad thing is, I always end up eating the most of the snacks without realizing it. I guess we will do better with two medium sized snacks foreach of us.

  2. Jason said...

    For me it's the appearance of food that makes me eat most- there's no way I can turn down a lovely chocolate fondue... :D

  3. Nancy said...

    Nice list. I love eating chocolate candies and strangely I always prefer the fancy colored one although they taste just the same ;).

  4. ♥ Hayley said...

    This is totally true. And it definately makes me think about how much I eat, myself. I try not to buy large quantities of Anything anymore, since something in my brain pushes me to finish my food, no matter how much I start with. I think it comes from being a little kid and not being allowed to leave the table until I was done eating! haha But there's an article for another day, I guess. :)

    I have stopped getting popcorn at the movies, because I eat it long after I'm full. One step at a time! ^-^

  5. Anonymous said...

    Stumbled upon this post. It's very interesting to know that actually blind person has much more sense and connection with his body compared to normal person.

    If there's a 'blind' restaurant in your area then by all means try it. It's a restaurant where everything is pitch dark and you won't be able to see your food (but they won't serve you anything dodgy).

  6. Mislove said...

    This was a great article! I completely agree! It is especially hard not to just finish the left-overs!!! Well, I can't help it if I'm a great cook!! Check out for great recipes!

  7. Ann said...

    Another thing which I found has an effect is the number of plates. I had tapas recently where you order a number of dishes and each comes on its own (small) plate, but you need at least 4 dishes to make a meal. The thing is there isn't much on each plate, but when you have 4 plates, and each of the people you are out with do too, the table is full and so are your eyes. The meal I had was about the same size as any meal I would have out, but I felt stuffed by the end of it, much more than normal.

  8. shern's mom said...

    growin up with many siblings, we always fight for food. not that we do not have enough to eat, it was just fun. and we were always asked to finish the food. not to eat till we're full.
    that explained why we're all huge. haha.
    good post, cherry.

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