The larger your fork and the bigger your bite when you eat, the less you will probably end up eating when you are in a restaurant, say researchers from the University of Utah in the Journal of Consumer Research. They used two sizes of forks in a popular Italian restaurant to measure how much people ate, and found that the participants who used the larger forks ate less than those with smaller ones.

Authors Arul Mishra, Himanshu Mishra, and Tamara M. Masters wrote:

“In this research we examined the influence of small versus large bite-sizes on overall quantity of food consumed.”

They then set out to determine why their findings went against other studies that had focused on portion sizes.

The researchers wrote:

“We observe that diners visit the restaurant with a well-defined goal of satiating their hunger and because of this well-defined goal they are willing to invest effort and resources to satiate their hunger goal.”

A diner is able to satisfy his/her hunger by selecting, consuming and paying for their food. All these steps require an investment of effort on their part.

Arul Mishra said:

“The fork size provided the diners with a means to observe their goal progress. The physiological feedback of feeling full or the satiation signal comes with a time lag. In its absence diners focus on the visual cue of whether they are making any dent on the food on their plate to assess goal progress.”

In order to test this supposition, they altered the quantities of food. They found that when presented with a plate loaded with food, those with large forks ate considerably less than those with small ones.

However, the amount of food consumed was not influenced by fork size when they were given small servings.

When they tried this out with volunteers in a laboratory, their results were the opposite – those with small forks ate less than the ones with the larger forks. The researchers think this is because the people in the lab did not have the same hunger satiating goals as the individuals in the restaurant.

We need to have a better understanding of hunger cues if we want to avoid overeating, they added.

They wrote:

“People do not have clear internal cues about the appropriate quantity to consume. They allow external cues, such as fork size, to determine the amount they should consume.”

“The Influence of Bite-size Quantity on Food Consumed: A Field Study
Arul Mishra, Himanshu Mishra, and Tamara M. Masters
Journal of Consumer Research

Written by Christian Nordqvist