Red Alert: Your dinner plate color can increase what you eat

If you are trying to keep from overindulging in too many high-calorie treats or reduce your food intake, your choice of plate color could make a big difference.

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SAN DIEGO, April 12, 2017  –  If you are trying to keep from overindulging in too many high-calorie treats or reduce your food intake, your choice of plate color could make a big difference.

A Boston University psychology study first published in 2004 found that eating food from a red plate could increase your calorie intake by 25 percent. That’s not what most of us want to hear when we are trying to keep that weight gain in check.

But researchers concerned about the poor nutrition of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease turned this information to their advantage. Forty percent of these patients lose a dangerously unhealthy amount of weight. The researchers wondered if this information couldn’t be put to good use.

So Boston University bio-psychologist Alice Cronin-Golomb and her research partners conducted their own study in 2010. Sure enough, their findings confirmed the earlier study.


It turns out that the explanation is a very simple one. Progressive neurological diseases affect your vision in addition to your thinking and memory. People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease cannot process visual information like they used to. They lose depth perception and contrast.

This vision loss is also sometimes true for other seniors who don’t have dementia.

Using the color red at mealtime could be a powerful tool for good health.

Caregivers become frustrated when Alzheimer’s patients always seem hungry. Often they assume it’s because they forgot when they last ate and think it must have been a long time because they can’t remember. Depression and lack of concentration have also been theories that attempt to explain poor eating and weight loss.

But it turns out that people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease aren’t eating enough because they cannot always see all the food on their plates. Even when individuals are encouraged and assisted with eating, Alzheimer’s patients do not finish the food on their plates. It turns out that simple vision loss and the inability to process visual information plays a role in their reluctance to eat. If you can’t see your food, you can’t eat it.

Healthcare and caregiving professionals who have learned about these findings are switching to using red dinner plates, bowls, and even coffee mugs for these patients.

If you are a caregiver struggling with this common challenge, why not give it a try? If you want to experiment, buy red paper plates. For the rest of us who don’t need to increase our calorie intake, we can use these studies to help us avoid seeing the number on the scale creep steadily up. Stick with white dinnerware and your waistline may thank you.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Read more of Lifecycles in CommDigiNews

LifeCycles is intended to provide inspiration and information only. If you are considering any health, dietary, exercise or lifestyle changes based on the information provided here, please seek advice from a qualified professional.

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is President and CEO of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California. In addition to her positions as entrepreneur, health care executive, educator, radio segment contributor and media guest, Edwards-Tate is also a wife, daughter, and dog lover. Follow At Your Home Familycare on Facebook and on Twitter

Follow At Your Home Familycare on Facebook and on Twitter @AYHFamilycare.

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Laurie Edwards-Tate
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today. Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service. Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home. Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. Follow Laurie and AYHF at www.atyourhomefamilycare.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/atyourhomefamilycare, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare