Dishes That Help You Drop Pounds

How two Voorhees moms plan to change the way you eat

Dish Diet plates let you gradually reduce portion sizes so you can lose weight—and keep it off good. // Photograph by Jessica Vermeer Hawkes.

Counting calories and measuring food tends to go hand-in-hand with dieting. But with Danuta Highet and Roberta Cahn’s new Dish Diet, you won’t have to do either. The Voorhees duo has created a nesting system of dishware, a total of five plates and four bowls, that gradually decrease in size. The basic idea: Begin to eat meals and snacks on the largest dishes, and slowly switch to smaller sizes until you reach your goal weight.

“Nutritionists always tell you to reduce your portion sizes, but that’s really hard to do when you have a tiny amount of food in the middle of a huge plate, like the type that America’s gotten used to eating off of,” says Cahn. “We designed the Dish Diet because we wanted to simplify the whole weight-loss process. You automatically take in less calories by serving yourself on a smaller plate, even if you’re still eating meatloaf and french fries.”

Highet first conceived the idea of stepping-size dishware more than a decade ago, when her children switched from baby food to home-cooked meals served on adult-size dishes. When her youngest daughter, Kathryn, hit puberty and began to put on weight, Highet’s need for smaller dishes became even more pressing. “Kathryn has autism, and it was really hard to explain portion sizes to her,” says Highet. “It was also really important that she feel independent, and she wanted to serve herself.” Highet eventually removed all of the large bowls and plates from her cabinets and began handing her daughter smaller dishes. The result: Kathryn lost more than 20 pounds, and has kept it off for the past two years.

However, Highet and Cahn, both engineers, felt they could design a more scientific, foolproof system of graduated dishes that would allow people to ease into smaller portions without thinking about it. “We came up with a number system based on the internal volume of each dish,” explains Cahn, noting that the largest Dish Diet plate, a “25,” translates to a 9-inch diameter, while the smallest, a “6,” translates to a 5-inch diameter. “A standard-size dinner plate is about 10 to 11 inches, so our 9-inch plate is small enough to start your weight loss, but not small enough to make you feel deprived.” The largest bowl, a “20,” holds 2 and 3/4 cups, while the smallest, a “5,” translates to 3/4 of a cup. The numbers are marked discreetly on the underside of each dish.

“The plates don’t look like diet dishes,” says Cahn. “We wanted them to be very plain and to mix right in with peoples’ regular dishes.” Currently, the Dish Diet can only be purchased online, but Highet and Cahn hope to see their product in stores soon. “We are also looking into Dish Diet cups and silverware,” says Cahn. “The average size of a fork and glass in America is much too large. It causes us to eat faster and to drink more calories than we need.”