Menu Tweaks For Healthier Dining

Picking the healthiest options from a restaurant menu can often involve a good deal of scrutinizing. As the popularity of dining out has risen so too has the obesity epidemic; Americans receive over a third of their calories from meals prepared outside of their homes.  Unfortunately for restaurants, high margin foods are usually not the healthiest choices, so it would be smart to start selling higher margin healthy dishes, but how do you get the guest to order these foods?

A Cornell University professor of food marketing, Brian Wansink, believes that by tweaking menus, restaurants can find a way to satisfy the needs of  the guests, operators and physicians! According to Wansink’s study published by the International Journal of Hospitality Management , here are a dew ways to redesign menus to entice the guest to order healthier options:

  • Using color highlights, creative fonts and graphics to bring focus to the vegetables and whole grains. Descriptives such as “Chef’s Recommendation” or “Traditional Favorite,” have been shown to increase consumption by 28 percent.
  • Avoid using the label “healthy”—in food psychology, the guest mentality is that if they wanted to go healthy they would have opted for a different establishment that specializes in that domain.
  • People naturally scan menus like they do editorials, so by placing the healthier dishes in the four corners of the menu they will attract more attention.
  • Place the healthy food options at the tops and bottoms of columns—these items sell 25 percent more.
  • Rename the dishes by adding on a few adjectives. For example, “Succulent Italian Seafood Fillet,”will sell 28% more than “seafood salad.”
  • Whole dollar figures ($10) create the illusion that items are cheaper than if there is a decimal value ($10.00) . If possible, it is also recommended to remove the dollar sign completely so guests are not thinking about how much they will have to pay but rather what they are going to be consuming.

Wansink believes altering a menu can help to “shift attention, enhance taste expectations  and increase perception of value” to get people to make healthier eating choices.  To read more and check out a visual diagram he created, click here


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