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Food Psychology Strategies to help Elevate your Foodservice Experiences

Have you ever been to a nice restaurant and the food is almost too beautiful to eat? Well, there is psychology behind your salad that looks like a Picasso painting!

Depending on where your foodservice operation is located, your clientele may have different nutritional needs that you should keep in mind when developing menus and plating food. For instance, as adults age, many changes influence their eating. Medications and physical, sensory and cognitive impairments can interfere with older adults’ enjoyment and physical ability to eat.  Eating difficulties can lead to serious consequences like dehydration, malnutrition, weight loss and more. Thus, foodservice operators should understand the psychology behind food plating to ensure their customer is receiving the best that is possible.

When plating is artistic, people enjoy food more than, if the same ingredients were randomly placed on the plate. Hence why you would rather eat a salad plated to resemble a painting. One way for children to have a more enjoyable experience with their food is to place ingredients in the shape of a face - like a broccoli floret for a nose, cucumber slices for eyes and red bell peppers to form a mouth. People have even become Instagram famous for their beautiful food art! 

Ida Skivenes (www.idafrosk.com) is a famous artist from Norway who creates (and eats!) food art. She is crafted food to look like the Eiffel Tower, a hot air balloon, a bumblebee and more. You do not have to get this creative, however, it is important to keep in mind who you are serving and that the food looks thoughtful on the plate.

Along with artistic food, the shape and color of the dinnerware can also affect taste. Round, white plates enhance sweet flavors in food, whereas black, angular plates bring out flavors that are more savory. Serving food on a red plate tends to reduce the amount diners eat. Also, keep in mind “The Large Plate Mistake,” especially if your clientele will be serving themselves during mealtimes. Research has proven that diners will eat more food when using a larger plate. So, if your foodservice operation cannot change the color of your dinnerware, change the size. Using smaller plates ultimately leads to clientele choosing smaller portions.

Foodservice operators can change dishware to better accommodate the dining needs of clientele. If your clientele needs to eat less, select plates that have high color contrast with the food that is being served. For instance, if your clientele needs to eat more greens, serve them on a green plate. Another idea is to use table clothes too. Foodservice operators can select a tablecloth with a low-contrast to the dinnerware to lower the likelihood of over-serving or stimulate the eating.

Color, size, shape, material of small wares and plating play a role in elevating the dining experience. Keep the food psychology in mind with the selection of smallwares to affect positive nutrition and hydration. 

Alluserv Team

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The Healthy Side of Comfort Foods

For patients in a hospital or healthcare facility, food is one of the only things they can control. Healthcare foodservice facilities can create a comforting environment for patients based around food.

With the cooler months ahead and temperatures dropping, it’s natural for patients to crave foods that hit close to home. Comfort foods promote warmth and familiarity, but the downside is that they are usually high in calories and fat. There’s a healthy side to comfort food, and we’re here to give your healthcare foodservice facility some new ideas so that patients can still enjoy their favorite foods.

Instead of completely changing foods to something unfamiliar, healthcare foodservice facilities can “makeover” patients’ favorite recipes so the foods remain familiar to patients. Comfort makeovers include multiple recipe tweaks like using meats and cheeses lower in fat, shrinking portion sizes, and adding vegetables and fruits.

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center’s foodservice operation (link: www.foodservicedirector.com/menu-development/creating-healthier-menus/articles/comfort-s-healthy-side) had to rethink a customer favorite: cheesy, crispy quesadillas. The original recipe was high in fat and calories, so the foodservice operation needed to trim down the popular snack. The team first shrank the tortilla from 10 inches to six, which decreased all of the fillings like low-fat mozzarella and shredded chicken. Plus, there was also less avocado and low-fat sour cream piled on top. The new quesadilla now comes in at 330 calories and 17 grams of fat, while the old, larger version had 880 calories and 43 grams of fat. This is a great example of a healthcare foodservice operation decreasing portion size and using meats and cheese that are lower in fat.

Another popular comfort food for patients in healthcare facilities is mashed potatoes. Instead of using whole milk and topping the mashed potatoes with thick gravy, the University of Rochester has a healthy version of this crowd favorite. The mashed potatoes are dairy-free and come with low-fat gravy made from mushroom broth, miso paste and cornstarch. This is a prime example of adding vegetables to a class recipe to make it healthier for patients.

Healthcare foodservice facilities can also lighten up classic comforting desserts like fudge brownies, cookies and cinnamon buns. For instance, try making this recipe for black bean brownies. That’s right – this recipe from the Food Network (www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/black-bean-brownies-recipe.html) uses black beans to create even fudgier brownies. It’s easy to add fruits and vegetables to these desserts without sacrificing texture and flavor.


What are some comfort foods that your healthcare foodservice facility is providing, and how can you make them healthier? Comment and let us know some of your ideas.