The intersection between healthy eating and good design has traditionally been a pretty lonely place.
The intersection between healthy eating and good design has traditionally been a pretty lonely place. Tatyana Daniels Beldock, a former health care venture capitalist, set out to change that when she launched a line of plates under the name Slim & Sage. The concept is simple: since research suggests that 90 percent of weight loss is achieved simply by eating less, Tatyana worked with experts at Stanford and Harvard to come up with a plate that takes the guesswork out of portion control. Even if these plates didn't help reduce caloric intake by 59 percent(!), we would still love them — we don't think it's a coincidence that they resemble Hermès's famous Balcon du Guadalquivir pattern.
The bold geometric patterns on the plate hide the built-in grid for recommended portions: one quarter is for protein, one quarter is for whole grains, and one half is for vegetables. Made from porcelain, the plates are nice enough for company but discreet enough that guests will never guess the motive behind the pattern. We stole a minute of Tatyana's time to find out more.
POPSUGAR: What did you find when you researched why America has such a tendency to overeat?
Tatyana Daniels Beldock: Our plates have gotten out of hand. Plate sizes have been rising in the US over the last 50 years: the average plate in the 1960s was nine inches. Today it is 12! (Slim & Sage plates are 9 inches.) France, ever the throwback, measures in at just 10 inches. You may think all this expanding china has had little effect on your eating habits, but think again: a study in the journal Appetite found that people clean their plates an astonishing 91 percent of the time, no matter how much food is offered, even if they are no longer hungry. Also portions are larger in restaurants, fast-food joints, and prepackaged foods in grocery stories.
PS: That's an alarming statistic — 91 percent of the time, even if they are no longer hungry? Why do you think that it is? Some sort of primal throwback? Habit left over from our parents telling us to clean our plates?
TDB: Yes! Can you believe it? People clean their plates an astonishing 91 percent of the time, no matter how much food is offered and even if they are no longer hungry. I believe it's because we have been conditioned since childhood to clean our plates. The National Institutes of Health recommend replacing larger plates with smaller plates as a good way to combat this and trick people into eating less. "People eat what's put in front of them," they say.
PS: I think that we are all guilty of that! Why isn't this science more widely used and applied? It seems like a very straightforward, smart concept.
TDB: Often some of the best ideas make you think, "Wow — why haven't I seen this before?" I am not sure why it hasn't been done before, though. There was a study done at Google where they introduced smaller plates at their cafeterias and their employees lost an average of 10-15 pounds without even really trying.
PS: That makes it sound painless. I know that takeout is a great excuse for people to abandon portion control. When you order takeout, do you make a point to eat it on Slim & Sage plates?
TDB: Yes, absolutely.
PS: Right now the price point is about $25 per plate — do you have plans for rolling out a lower price point option? How about bowls?
TDB: Custom plates for spas and resorts are in the pipeline, and we are considering a lower price and children's line in the future.
PS: Great, we will keep on the lookout! Meanwhile, we just learned that Slim & Sage was picked up by Neiman Marcus. Congratulations!