Trick Your Appetite with Optical Illusions


If you scoop vanilla ice cream into a white bowl, consider moving it to a different colored dish. Why? NPR reports our brains are hardwired to mislead us, which can have a massive impact on our diets.

The tendency to overserve has to do with the Delboeuf optical illusion, first discovered in 1865, which makes one two circles of the same size appear to be difference sizes. Your brain is misled when comparing the dots to the surrounding circle, which leads people to misjudge food serving sizes.

Koert Van Ittersum, professor of marketing at Georgia Tech and Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell, performed a series of experiments to measure the effect of the Delboeuf illusion on perceptions of serving size. According to the study, participants who ate white pasta on a white plate or red pasta on a red plate significantly overserved themselves.

How do you curb your food intake? NPR's Salt blog suggests buying smaller dishes and taller glasses, placing healthy food at eye level, avoiding images of delicious food, and adopting a mindful eating routine. Easy, right?

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