June 27, 2007

Amazing "Portion Control Tool" Helps Diabetics Reduce Meds

A fun new study on portion control out of the University of Calgary found that diabetics using a special "portion control tool" lost weight--in fact, as much weight as they would have by going on medication.

Seventeen percent of participants using this special "tool" lost five percent or more of their body weight. And twenty six percent who used the "portion control tool" were able to decrease their use of diabetic medications. Hooray! That's impressive.

And what was this cutting edge "portion control tool" that was so successful?

It's a plate! A really funny-looking plate! Well, it's actually kind of cute, especially if like your plates on the whimsical side.

Crabby doesn't want to make a habit out of using people's pictures without permission (sorry, IGallop), or at least not until she figures out what the rules are. So she'll refer you to the Diet Plate website to show you what it looks like. Sort of adorable, no?

The study that used the Diet Plate has already been discussed all over the blogosphere by people much smarter than Crabby. So you may have already formed your own opinions. But that won't stop Crabby from tossing in her two cents! After all Portion Control is a favorite subject here at Cranky Fitness. (And Crabby has lots more sneaky tricks, but she doesn't want to use them up just yet. She's going to need material for future posts).

So one thing Crabby likes about this study is that it's more proof of one of her favorite theories: people are dimwits! And this is very good news, because we can use our own dimwittedness to great advantage.

Because of course there's no reason you can't put less food on your plate all by yourself. If you know you need to eat less, then eat less. But we don't do it! Now, however, maybe we will because someone has invented a "special" plate. It's actually clever: it's got smaller surface area than normal (but a nice big rim), and they've put little lines on it that label various parts of our meal and set limits on how much to eat. And research says it actually works! How cool (and dumb) is that?

However, there's one surprising downside to the amazing new Diet Plate: it costs $30! Doesn't that seem awfully high for one plate? If you want a matching bowl with that, and the whole "plan," it will run you quite a bit more. (Crabby was going to give you that figure too, but the website went down as she was writing this because the Diet Plate people were getting too much traffic!)

Rather than spend $30, Crabby prefers to just take the idea, which is free, and eat on a smaller plate. (And actually, Smart Readers already suggested this idea back in the comment section of the previous portion control post). And perhaps we can use some sort of barely edible garnish, like skinny carrot sticks or celery slivers, as a divider to make sure we go way easy on the potatoes and way less easy on the broccoli.

Or, better yet, we can wait a few weeks for some discount chain to crank out a cheap Diet Plate knock-off. (Is that too mean? But Crabby sort of thinks the Diet Plate People have it coming for trying to charge $30 for one plate). On the other hand, if you've got the cash and don't want to wait or try to arrange garnishes or paint lines on your plate--just go ahead and order it! If it helps, it's worth thirty bucks. Crabby promises she won't make fun of you.

Oh, and another thing that tickles Crabby about the Diet Plate people is their marketing. Here's one of the come-ons for this plan:

"Want to eat with your family without being made to feel different because you want to lose weight?"

Then buy the Diet Plate?

Because Lord knows, eating off your own weirdly painted and brightly colored "special plate" will make you feel much less conspicuous when dinnertime comes around!

Unless, of course, you decide to spring for special Diet Plates for the whole family... Oh.

Actually, Crabby thinks the whole idea is a good one. She just thinks it could be cheaper. She is someone who is easily fooled by the shape and size of the containers her food is served in, so she would probably be a good candidate for her own Very Special Plate!

So what do you guys think? (And no need to stay on topic--any thoughts about anything are always welcome at Cranky Fitness).


  1. $30 for ONE flippin' plate?!?!? That's a lot of broccoli!

    Here's my portion control method:
    1. Veggies and fruit = free food
    2. Protein = palm of you hand
    3. Carbs = size of tennis ball
    4. Fats = up to serving size on container. However, using fats sparingly is ideal.

    Measuring cups are way less expensive too.

  2. I saw brief clip of this on the news last night. Reminded me of an upmarket, faddish, new agey, health-focused TV Dinner. Don't know if those tin plate beauties are still around, but if so, use the divided plate as a template for your own "Portion Control Tool."
    Or simply put borders on your plate with something edible (String beans? Licorice? Pickles? Icing?) and use the $30 to buy good, proper food.

  3. My biggest problem is having "seconds" at dinner. I could fill up the plate twice, right?!?! haha!

    I have been working with my son to look at the serving sizes on packaging, especially snack foods. It has really helped all of us. It is amazing to see how many servings are in something that is marketed as a personal sized package.

    As he sat down and read what I was typing, he asked if they had men's and women's or if they were "coed". What an insightful child! He is 11 years old and realizes that men and women have different caloric needs! Smart cookie. oops! cookies!!! yum!

  4. Seems like a great idea but $30? A bit steep. Greedy I think.
    BUT, portion control is a huge thing for me...wasn't til I figured it out that I was healthier. You could probably buy a small scale for less than that and weigh out portions for a while to get an idea of it too. I read an article a while back (can't find the link anywhere) of how portion sizes today are about 1/3 to 1/2 bigger than they were 20 years ago - no wonder we're all getting jiggly!

  5. Hi Goinggone!
    What a great, simple system! And free too, what a concept.

    Love the icing suggestion! Except well, I'd probably end up licking the plate at the end of the meal, which is somewhat unseemly. And you're right, I remember those tv dinner trays. Seems like for $30 you should at least get some friggin' compartments!

    Hi Holly!
    Yeah, the "seconds" can be a problem, especially if it's something yummy. Sometimes I make myself wrap up and return the food to the fridge so I have to make a really big deal of it to have another serving. And it sounds like you've got a really smart son. Good for you for teaching him healthy eating! (And he's right--the plates do indeed come in "his" and "hers" sizes).

    Hi Geosomin!
    I agree that portion size is a really a crucial issue. And i think you're right in that they've expanded a lot over time. Yet sometimes it's hard not to feel somehow cheated with getting less that a "full" serving. So finding ways to trick yourself into realizing less=enough can make a big difference. And great idea about the scale!

  6. There are already knock offs. Do a search of "portion control plates". This isn't even the first one I have seen. It is really a cute plate.
    I also think that you could make a plate like this at one of those paint your own pottery places. It still would be expensive but at least you would have fun making it.
    I think that they need to make entire sets of these dishes. So, everyone in the family can benefit!
    Holly- I usually just make the exact right amount so that there are no seconds at my house. If someone is still hungry they can eat a piece of fruit.

  7. I do like the idea of portion control. On a really hungry day, I worry that I would just try to stack the food. Picture a 2 sq in portion of mashed potatoes that is 12 in. high. Sigh. At least it would develop creative and architectural skills. Long time reader, 1st time commentor!

  8. I agree with Samantha, you could go to one of those make your own pottery places and make one that looks even cooler. Or just go to a thrift store buy one for 50 cents and take a sharpie to it. And anonymous, I totally laughed at the thought of your food stacked up on your carefully portioned plate! :)

  9. $3o is steep -- but how much does a coronary cleaning cost or sadly a funeral? I'm quite sure it's more than $30.

    Plus consider how much we spend on Shape, Self, Fitness, and all the other health magazines not to mention gym memberships we don't use and free-weights.

    I usually think fitness fads are super lame but I'm all for a non-medicated perfectly safe fad. BUT as usual Crabby makes a good point why not just go your own tiny plate. I've seen this study time and time again. It has good results.

    Well I must say when I'm too busy to visit I miss my dose of Crabby. It's nice to be back. And OT -- Crabby if you email me through AW or my blog I will try to find some time to send you some facts on image taking rules for bloggers, seeing how I've got a little experience with that ;)

  10. IMHO, the idea is very good; too many people have problems with portion control, and I tell you, it's not only in the USA (my colleagues look at me askance thinking I'm starving myself, and I look at their plates thinking "gosh but where are they going to put all that? A second stomach?" LOL). But the price is very steep for a single plate, and it WILL make you feel different and even abnormal, should I say, if using it around other people who don't need that tool and won't make the effort of at least trying to understand the reason why. (of course, I also tell myself that if you manage to shake off the self-consciousness to, say, go to the gym, you can probably do it as well for a plate.)

    So there also goes kery's Cheap-O-Student solution of painting her own plate, or drawing the needed lines on some transparent, strong paper. After all, I don't have 30 bucks to shell out, but I have a marker pen and a white plate at home. :p

  11. swing by my blog later, that healthy sugar substitute came in the mail today.

  12. LOL, Reminds me of my Peter Cotton Tale Plate when I was a child. Haven't read this one yet so can't really comment on its validity but I bet the weight loss comes from people scrubbing vigorously over the sink to remove those pesky reminders and pictures which prevent them from eating unabated.

  13. The idea is good but I think portion control can be handled without a special plate. And like your first-time commenter, I could just see my husband with a 12 inch high stack of his favourites!

    However it reminded me that about three months I'd changed to a smaller plate for my evening meal and somehow, without noticing, I've slipped back to the normal size plate again!

  14. And now for something completely different:

    You have to remember
    the plates of your past.
    The many lasagnas
    whose fates have been cast.
    the calories around you
    from where they did sit
    serves to remind you
    eat healthy and exercise
    to stay fit!

    :-) Dr.J

  15. Hi Samantha!
    So the cheaper knockoffs are already out there--good to know, for those who like the idea but don't want to spring for a $30 plate. (And don't know why it didn't occur to me to google, so thanks for the info!) And I think a family field trip to one of the "paint your own pottery" places is an excellent idea!

    Hi anonymous reader, first time commenter--
    Well what an awesome debut as a commenter! You definitely had me (and everyone else it seems) giggling with the image of a 2x12 inch mashed potato tower. I sure hope you'll be back. And even if you don't want to sign up for a blogger profile, if you pick some sort of name (like Dr. J or Holly or Appleton do) then I'll know you when you return, which I hope you plan to!

    Back momentarily...

  16. But what about those of us who eat reasonable portions at dinnertime, but succumb to the urge to snack? Yes, I know the answer is "stop snacking" but I'm finding that easier said than done.

  17. Hi Katieo!
    That mashed potato comment cracked me up too!

    And readers, speaking of comments, Katieo is having a Prize Giveaway which you can enter by going to her blog and commenting on Yesterday's (Tues 6/26) post. So if you have comments to spare, you may actually win something! (Which never seems to happen at Cheapskate Cranky Fitness).

    Hi Jennifer!
    Good point--$30 isn't really that much compared to a lot of other things we spend money on, especially if the damn thing works, which apparently it does. And thanks, info on picture use would be very handy! You have such great ones or your architecture blog at b5. (Offbeat Homes, for readers who are curious--some very cool stuff over there).

    Hi Kery,
    You always have such great ideas, I think you should cash in with the Kery Cheap-O-Student Consulting service! Or put out your own line of decorated paper plates.

    And thanks John, I've been curious. Will do!

    Hi Second Anonymous!
    Oh, I'd forgotten about those cute little Rabbit plates--some of the neighbor kids had them when I was little and I was SO jealous. But I didn't know they had a secret Portion Control Agenda.

    Hi Dawn,
    Back to the bigger plate, huh? I'd probably do the exact same thing! I rationalize my usual "big plate" by covering most of it with salad, then leaving just a little space for the rest of dinner.

    Dr. J,
    A poem, how wonderful! (And the fun kind too, one that's clever and rhymes!)

  18. Hi Peggy,
    Yeah, snacks are tough. To me, it sort of depends--is it a healthy snack, and am I actually really hungry and not just bored and munchy? If it's really for fuel and not amusement, then I don't think snacking is a bad thing.

    But if it's eating for entertainment, or emotional eating, then it's really a battle to find some healthier substitute activity for the snacking. Easier said than done--and a great idea for a future discussion!

  19. We're all poets, just some don't know-its :-) Dr.J

  20. I am SO in the wrong line of work!

    Diet plates. Why didn't I think of that? I could be rich!

  21. I think you can also make designs on plastic-esque plates too... Check your local craft store, they should know what you're talking about.

    I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes recently and went to see a dietitian today. She recommends (for those with diabetes) at lunch and dinner for half your plate to be covered in veggies, a quarter in the "meat" category, and the other quarter in the carb/sugar category (which includes beans, peas, corn, fruit, all manner of grains, and yogurt).

    I figured I'd have to cut way back on the grains and cut out the blatant sugars pretty much completely, but I totally didn't realize how much I'd have to limit fruit. :(

  22. Hi again, Dr J! :)

    Bunnygirl--I know, such a simple idea, but... right place, right time, I guess. Maybe our time will come someday!

    Hi Lisa,
    Wow, that sounds frustrating, having to cut back on fruit which is otherwise so healthy. I'd be bummed too. I realize I don't know nearly enough about gestational diabetes. Sounds like you're taking it really seriously though, which is important, for both you and the baby. Hope it's temporary and that once you you have the baby you can go back to eating lots of fruit!

  23. These things continue to run rampant because paraphrasing someone, there's a sucker born every minute. Goes hand in hand with thinking the government can do a better job running our lives and spending our money than we can.

  24. Hi Vickie,
    I'm always amazed at how easily people will part with their money. But I guess better a $30 diet plate than a $10,000 Rolex or something.

  25. I use a sandwhich plate for lunch. Nothing really fits on it but...a sandwhich. No chips, no nothing else. A few carrot sticks.

    We really need to pay attention to restaurant portions. The Olive Garden is one of the worst - have you seen the size of what they serve?

    And the baked potatoes you get anymore. You know a serving sized potato is the size of a computer mouse? Most places give you these mutant spuds.

    Take half your restaurant food home every time you eat out. Don't supersize your fries. Meat shouldn't be bigger than a deck of cards. Butter's okay, just don't put half the stick on your food.

    It's not rocket science people. (says the girl who eats right and is still fat.)

  26. Talia,
    Wow, great catch--I can see how it might be quite helpful, but boy is that thing ugly! I think your take on the whole thing was quite amusing. "Limited edition" indeed!

    Very sensible guidelines you've got there! And you're so right about restaurant portions. It's amazing how many people will finish those meals too. I hate to waste food, so like you, I'm a big fan of having leftovers, usually half the meal, wrapped "to go."

  27. Hmmm. I have tried every diet out there over the years, last years at 204 kilos, I started on THE DIET PLATE... I now weigh 134.5 kilos or for you americans thats 164lbs lighter!!!!
    The diet plate is not just a plate, or a bowl, you get online support too from the MD herself!!! she is not adverse to chatting to you or emailing back and forward... She helped me loads.
    Its simple, it works, only idiots would fail on it. I spent I reckon in excess of 10k dollars in 15 years trying to lose weight... $30? Worth every penny.


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