Want to eat less? Use a big fork

By Siski Green

Alphabet I It's counterintuitive, but new research indicates that taking bigger bites actually leads to eating less - at least in a restaurant setting

Researchers from the University of Utah, US, used a popular Italian restaurant to assess the link between bite size - the amount of food on your fork or spoon - and how much food was eaten. To do that, they used two different sizes of fork - that way, the diners with larger forks would, in theory, end up with more on their forks. In practice, using bigger forks made people eat less overall. The researchers theorise that the larger fork enabled diners to observe their progress towards a specific goal: to satiate their hunger. Clearing their plate more quickly provided a visual clue that they were getting to their goal - being full more quickly.

To test this theory, the researchers then varied the quantities of food. Even when the initial quantity of food was greater, those with small forks still ate more than those with large forks. Interestingly, when the servings were small, fork size didn't appear to change the quantity eaten at all.

The researchers conclude that rather than relying on feelings of fullness, people use other external cues - such as fork size or perhaps the size of each mouthful - to figure out how much they should eat. Perhaps having big mouthfuls makes a person feel as though they're eating more than they are, which will in turn result in the person eating less.

If you'd like to use other mind tricks on yourself to keep yourself from overeating, try serving your food on blue dishes instead of red, yellow or white. According to researchers from the University of Winnipeg blue seems to work as an appetite suppressant. If you can't find a blue dish, use a blue tablecloth - that appears to have the same effect.

First published July 21, 2011

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.


  • Diet

    Diet Detective: I need to lose weight to bring down my blood pressure

    Nutrition expert Judith Wills looks at reader Ann Payne's diet to help her lose weight

    Read on

  • Slimming

    Do you need to go on a diet?

    You may be carrying a few more pounds than you were 30 years or so ago, but this doesn't necessarily mean you have a weight problem now

    Read on

  • Measuring tape

    Lose weight and stay slim

    Shedding some pounds, if you need to, can help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoarthritis and even some kinds of cancer

    Read on

  • Saga Health Insurance

    Health insurance

    A comprehensive range of competitively priced HealthPlans. 3 months free when you pay by monthly Direct Debit.



Type your comment here

 characters remaining.

Saga Magazine

For more fascinating stories and insightful articles, why not try Saga Magazine for just £1 for 3 issues.

Saga Magazine e-newsletter

Sign up to our free newsletter today

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for all the latest recipes, gardening tips, prize draws, interviews and more delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Saga Magazine app

You can now read your Saga Magazine on a huge range of mobile devices - from the Kindle Fire to an iPhone or iPad.

Saga Magazine's 2014 calendar

Snap up your calendar for just £7.99

From deep midwinter to the heady days of summer, we've chosen 12 winners from our readers' stunning images. To see for yourself why they were chosen, buy your 2014 Saga Magazine calendar today.