One of the things that always surprised me when I was studying in Belgium was that everyone looked like they had stepped out of an Urban Outfitters catalogue, despite consuming nothing but mayonnaise-covered french fries and strong wheat beer.
Everywhere I went—the Metro, the McDo—I saw fawn-like humans. Fawns who smoked a lot of cigarettes, but fawns nonetheless.
In search of Their Secret, one day I watched lunch being prepared by my host sister, who wore size 32 jeans. (In America, it is, how you say, le deux?) She plucked a can of ravioli from the cabinet, plopped a few spoonfuls of it into the kind of bowl one might use to feed a dwarf kitten, and put the rest in the fridge.
The sight was more incredible than the Atomium itself. “She’s actually using the suggested serving size,” I thought. The Belgians were indeed having it all, I learned—it's just that they were having half of it.
Nutrition researchers have long suspected that serving food in small portions and on small plates helps people avoid weight gain. Most people don’t eat only to the point of satiety and no further. To quote Girls’ Adam, most people eat for fun, not for fuel.
A recent review from Cochrane offers what the organization calls “the most conclusive evidence to date” that people do, in fact, consume more of a given food when it’s offered in a larger package or on a bigger plate.