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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 13:01 EDT

The Kitchen Counter Diet

April 27, 2010

Keep the pasta bowl off the table and eat 20 percent less

Can eating less be as simple as leaving serving dishes on the stove and off the table? According to a team of researchers from Cornell University, it can.

At this week’s Experimental Biology conference in Anaheim, Calif., researchers led by Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, shared findings of their “Serve Here; Eat There” study of 78 adults.

“We looked at whether serving foods from the kitchen counter, instead of at the table, would reduce the number of times a person refilled his or her plate,” Wansink said.

“Quite simply, it is a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind,’” he continued. “When we kept the serving dishes off the table, people ate 20% fewer calories. Men ate close to 29% less.”

The same strategy can be used to help increase the consumption of healthier foods, Wansink explained.

“If fruits and vegetables are kept in plain sight, we’ll be much more likely to choose them, rather than a piece of cake hidden in the refrigerator.”

Dining environment, plate and portion size, and other hidden cues that determine what, when and how much we eat are familiar topics in Wansink’s work. He is the author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.

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