When size matters

Friday, November 18, 2011 Permalink

A couple of days ago I was typically disorganised when it came time for dinner. I do try (I swear) to plan ahead and get meat out of the freezer in advance… but it isn’t uncommon that I arrive home from work and find myself digging through my freezer at 7pm for something to defrost and cook.

size does matterOn Tuesday night in particular, I was to partake in some wine, so dinner was to be minimalist in nature. And by that I mean, low calorie and devoid of carbohydrates. As I delved into the depths of my freezer (slight exaggeration!) I pondered on my choices: fish, chicken or steak? I’m a fairly boring cook so tend to make the same things all of the time. Despite grandiose plans to become a foodie and try new things, I tend to fall back on my old faves.

On Tuesday I decided on a teensy piece (80g raw) of fillet steak. By the time I’d bathed, procrastinated and readied myself for the task ahead it was after 8pm and I needed to coordinate my dining with my planned 8.30pm television viewing. Because the steak by itself looked a tad pathetic and I didn’t really have time to prepare something more magnificent involving vegetables I decided to go for a ‘mixed grill’. I’m not sure if that translates internationally… but essentially it could be called ‘a bit of a fry-up’. In a pub you’d get some steak, sausages, bacon, eggs, onion, tomato and perhaps some other bits and pieces.

I make a (*ahem*) healthier version when I’m at my culinary laziest. Basically I spray a non-stick pan and ‘fry’ (sans oil) steak, onion, garlic, 97% fat-free bacon, an egg and some tomato. Sure it isn’t the healthiest thing on the planet, but it could be worse! I think.

As I went to serve up, I realised that the usual dinner plate would dwarf the rather-small meal, so I used one of my medium-sized plates instead. As I ‘plated-up’ I was reminded of my time at fat camp a few years ago, where they went with the ‘use smaller plates so you think you’re eating more’ trick. The bowls were tiny and the plates were mid-sized. After a month there my old dinner plates looked decidedly enormous and so – for some time anyway – I went with my own medium sized plates. Forced portion control… if you will.

Naturally that, along with my healthy eating habits and exercise, fell by the wayside as I eventually returned to my large plates and mounds of food.

I was thinking about this again the following day as I came across a cute little glass which is part of a set I inherited from my parents (read: took when mum was doing a big clean-out). I suspect they received these glasses, along with a set of wine and champagne glasses which I also inherited, as wedding presents. As I went to rinse the glass (used by my thoughtful cleaner as a vase for some flowers he put by my bed) I chuckled at its size. Basically my fist is capable of engulfing the entire glass. It is tiny. Tinier than tiny. It made me wonder how useful it was as a vessel and if it had – in fact – ever been used. I have to confess I (also) have only used them as vases, as they seem just too small to use for drinking.

I compared a glass from both sets to the glasses I regularly use for my ‘glass’ of vanilla diet coke; or glass of wine. And the difference is amazing. It made we wonder… has our desire to ‘upsize’ gone crazy? Rather than being kitschy, were those type of glasses actually perceived as practical in a day-to-day sense in the 60s and 70s. Was a glass of cordial or soft drink the size of a thimble, rather than over half a litre?!

And now that I’m conscious of this, am I prepared to ‘downsize’ once again? Perhaps I SHOULD be using small plates and small glasses – because, at a minimum, I’d have to get up off my lounge room chair more often to refill my glass (thereby adding to my incidental exercise)! Or, can I trick myself into thinking I’m having more because my smaller plates or glasses are filled to the brim? Hmm…. I’m not sure, but I might try to adopt the small plate initiative for a while and see how I go.

  • Marion
    November 18, 2011

    I’ve seen a *lot* of research that says that smaller bowls and plates really do fool the mind into thinking a larger portion. I think this would be true. Consider: the same amount of food on a big plate or small one. Would you rather eat a plate that is full of food or one that partially empty? I guess that is the mind game with it.

    Regarding my post, I used to feel that way about trying new things in front of others too. But, if you break through the point of not caring what people think of you, you’d be so amazed with what you can do! A person does have to make many mistakes to improve. And only the people making mistakes get to more advanced levels of what they are trying to do.

    And, most importantly, many people see the person who is okay with making mistakes in front of others as the most confident person of all. So I think that people would judge you much differently than you think.

    🙂 Marion

    • rockafellaskank
      November 18, 2011

      Thanks Marion. I was chatting with a girl at the gym yesterday (only 3 of us did a circuit class and she was one of those super-fit people. I finished red-faced and very exhausted!) as we were in the changing room afterwards and I exit the shower to put my work trousers on to avoid getting the bottoms wet from the shower floor and I made a comment about exposing my fat-thighs to her. She commented on her own weight loss and said a big part of that was accepting her body – and not just in a ‘I’m not that bad’ kind of way, but showing a bit of flesh when she normally wouldn’t and NOT being self-conscious in the change room, but being proud that she was working out etc. It’s a bit like your point. I don’t look at a larger person out running / exercising and judge them for what they look like, rather I think… ‘good on them!’ (Sorry about long ramble – may not make sense!)

      I seriously got used to the smaller plates at fat camp and didn’t have a problem with them when I got home. Just need to get back into that thinking!

  • Julia
    November 18, 2011

    I love the vintage glasses!

    Part of the psychology behind the smaller plates thing is the act of refilling your plate/glass. When we become conscious going back to put more on our plates, it makes us take a second to think about whether or not we actually want the next serving. In light of your recent positivity, this would be a great experiment for you. Give it a shot with the smaller plates and see what happens. The worst is that you return to the big plates.

    Hope summer is coming along nicely. Last night we had our first 30 degree night in Virginia. Reading about summer on your blog makes it feel like the warmer temps are prolonged!

    • rockafellaskank
      November 18, 2011

      Thanks Julia… it has been a bit too hot here and Summer doesn’t officially start until 1 December! I think we have been building to a storm though! I didn’t do it last night but am going to try to smaller plate thing. I have to confess I am currently drinking my (Saturday morning) diet coke in one of the big mexican glasses, but might try to use the smaller ones as well. I get what you mean about being conscious of re-filling our plates / glasses though!

  • Karen@WaistingTime
    November 18, 2011

    I read recently that people eat LESS with a bigger fork. Go figure.

    • rockafellaskank
      November 18, 2011

      Really?! I like a little fork myself. Actually I use splades a lot cos I eat in front of tv and pre-cut food. (Yes…. just like a 5yr old!)

  • beanfruit
    November 19, 2011

    I really like this concept and will have to give it a try. One thing I’m so guilty of is not filling my plate as proportionally as I should…i.e., mostly veggies and protein, with a little fruit and whole grains. Maybe a smaller plate would help!

    • rockafellaskank
      November 19, 2011

      Me too. I pile on MOUNDS of carbohydrates normally… a bit of protein and minimal veges!!! (Oops!)

  • Katy@KatyRunner
    November 19, 2011

    this is so true! I usually try to eat off a bread & butter plate while D eats of a big dinner plate – it’s amazing how much less I eat than if I eat off one of the bigger plates (eg if there are people over and I don’t want to look bizzare eating off a smaller plate).

    I went op shopping today and saw some really cute (and smaller) plates & glasses and thought of your post. another ‘pro’ to think about when I dream of a kitchen with vintage crockery 🙂

    • rockafellaskank
      November 19, 2011

      I’m actually using one of the smaller glasses tonight for my wine! (I am having to get up and refill an awful lot!)

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