What’s With the Color of Your Plate? (Read Before You Set the Table!)

colorful plates 2

Color matters. It just does. In fact, Winston Churchill once said, “I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns”.   Though not completely understood by scientists, a definite link exists between color and mood, and even affects how much we eat.

Like Mr. Churchill, I react strongly to color. My parents tell me I’ve been this way since age two.  Apparently, I insisted on wearing very specific shades of particular colors from a very young age. Not surprisingly, I spend a great deal of time choosing how to decorate each and every piece of dinnerware I create.  I carefully consider how the piece will be used and what foods it might hold.

Green foods like salad or pesto pasta look best on yellow plates, beige foods such as chicken or potatoes go best with brown or black.
Contrast between food and the dinnerware is visually appealing, and also helps to evaluate portion size more easily. An interesting study from Brian Wansink at Cornell found people eat more when food is the same color as the plate. For example, pasta with cheese does not have obvious boundaries on a white plate, giving  the impression of less food than if the meal were served on a red plate.

Other studies demonstrate the inextricable connection between food and mood. For example, the color blue is associated with calmness, peace and serenity, but is also largely thought of as an appetite suppressant because blue is frequently associated with spoiled food. Using a blue plate may actually cause you to eat less! Did you know that the reason many refrigerators are sold with a blue inside light is to stop nighttime snacking?  In contrast, red and orange are known to stimulate conversation and appetite. Restaurants like to use these colors to encourage patrons to eat more.   Color is everywhere; think of the way we describe emotions – seeing red, feeling blue, green with envy, tickled pink.

My dinnerware consists of many colors. I used to have all white, which shows off many foods quite nicely, but so boring! These days I liven up my table with all different colors depending on what I am serving. Sometimes every single plate is a different color, sometimes  all the same.  Do you need to change the color of your plates? Probably not, but at least be aware of how color makes you feel and its role in what or how much you eat.

The List below of popular phrases that include color by Kate Smith is fun. Enjoy!

List of Popular Phrases That Include Color


  • Out of the blue: unexpected
  • True blue: to be loyal or faithful
  • Once in a blue moon: an event that occurs infrequently
  • Blue ribbon: first place; to describe something as being of the highest quality
  • Blue blood: an aristocrat
  • Blue law: laws about morality issues
  • Blue comedy: jokes about socially taboo subjects
  • Blueprint: a detailed design of an object or idea
  • Blue plate special: a special priced meal at a restaurant
  • Bluestocking: a woman with strong scholarly interests
  • Feeling blue: to feel sad or unhappy


  • Get the green light: get approval to move ahead or proceed with a project or task See: Give The Green Light Meaning
  • Green corn: the young, tender ears of Indian corn
  • Green thumb (US) or Green fingers (UK): an unusual ability to make plants grow
  • Green room: a room (in a theater or studio) where performers can relax before or after appearances
  • Greenback: a legal-tender note issued by the United States government
  • Greener pastures: something newer or better (or perceived to be better), such as a new job
  • Green with envy: jealous or envious See: Green With Envy
  • Greenhorn: novice, trainee, beginner See: He Wasn’t All Greenhorn
  • Green around the gills: marked by a pale, sickly, or nauseated appearance
  • Turn green: to look pale and ill as if you are going to vomit
  • Going green: when someone or something makes changes to help protect the environment, or reduces waste or pollution


  • Yellowbellied: a cowardly manner
  • Yellow fever: a disease involving high fever and jaundice that is common in the tropics
  • Yellow jack: a flag flown on a vessel to show that it is under quarantine
  • Yellowdog contract: a contract which denies a person the right to join a worker’s union
  • Yellow journalism: newspaper articles thought to be sensationalized in order to sell more papers


  • Brown sugar: partially refined sugar
  • Brown bagging: to bring a homemade packed lunch to work
  • Brown out: a partial loss of electrical power
  • Brownstone: a building made out of dark colored sandstone
  • In a brown study: describing someone as being in deep thought


  • Gray market: the business of buying or selling items that are priced below what has been regulated
  • Gray mood: an unhappy mood
  • Gray area: caught between two differing views


  • Red carpet treatment: giving privileged treatment to an important person
  • Caught red-handed: clearly guilty
  • Red in the face: to become embarrassed
  • Seeing red: to be angered
  • Red flag: a warning of danger
  • Not worth a red cent: having no value
  • Red letter day: a memorable, joyful day
  • Red tape: excessive formalities in governmental process See: Cutting Through Red Tape
  • In the red: a term to describe an economic loss
  • Scarlet letter: a punitive mark of adultery that originated with the novel (1850) The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.


  • Tickled pink: to be happy
  • In the pink: in good health — this phrase hasn’t always had this meaning. See: Being in the Pink
  • Pinking shears: scissors with serrated blades
  • A pink elephant: term to describe hallucinations during intoxication
  • Pinkie finger: the smallest finger on the human hand
  • Pink slip: notice that employment is ending
  • Pink collar: refers to a particular class of jobs once only filled by women


  • Purple prose: an elaborately written poem or paragraph in literature
  • Purple heart: a medal awarded to a US soldier wounded in battle
  • Born to the purple: a person who is born into a noble or royal family
  • Lay it out in lavender: very cool, relaxed, and in control


  • White Christmas: the appearance of snow on Christmas day
  • White elephant: a possession that no longer holds value for its owner
  • White flag: the signal of a peaceful surrender
  • White goods: a description of household items, such as linens, towels, and appliances
  • White hot: extreme manner of intensity
  • White lie: a harmless untruth usually told out of politeness
  • White sauce: a sauce made from stock, butter, flour and seasonings
  • White feather: a symbol of cowardliness


  • Black comedy: creating comedy out of a tragic event or situation
  • Black coffee: coffee without milk
  • Black belt: the highest awarded belt in the martial arts
  • Blackball: voting against someone in a secret manner to prevent them from becoming a member of a club
  • Blackmail: to demand payment or action by means of a threat
  • Black sheep: a bad character in an otherwise respectable group
  • Black day: a bad day; often used before the name of a particular day to symbolize a tragic event, such as black Tuesday
  • Black Friday: the day after Thanksgiving See: Why The Friday After Thanksgiving Is Known As Black Friday


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