If you've ever stared down a family-size serving of spaghetti and meatballs without an ounce of fear, you know exactly what we're talking about.
In a new study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, researchers from the University of Cambridge examined how factors like plate and portion sizes can actually influence how much we eat, or specifically, how much we overeat. As you might expect -- or know from firsthand experience -- the bigger the plate you're served, the more you food you'll end up stuffing into your face. Even if you're attempting to be mindful of what you eat.
"We found evidence that people consistently ate more food or drank more non-alcoholic drinks when offered larger-sized portions, packages or items of tableware than when offered smaller-sized versions," researchers stated in the study's abstract. However, while the study found that bigger plates result in bigger food consumption, experts described the effect as "small to moderate" for both adults and children. In other words, if people avoided eating from big plates or were served smaller portions all across their diet, then daily calorie intake would decrease by 12% to 16%, or up to roughly 280 calories.
Dr. Gareth Hollands, who co-led the study, said the findings are evidence that overeating isn't only caused by a lack of self-control, according to a report by The Independent.
Or maybe our eyes aren't bigger than our stomachs after all.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and will probably eat a lot of food regardless of the plate size. Just saying. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.