You can’t really blame restaurants for making you fat, can you? Interestingly enough, there are tricks restaurants use to help you consume the higher-calorie foods–particularly the expensive ones! Here are some sneaky ways your favorite eatery is contributing to your weight:
The “special” of the day is rarely very special, but it’s almost always an unhealthy option. Whether it’s a mayo-heavy tuna melt, a rack of high-calorie BBQ ribs, or some other unhealthy food, people are more likely to order something when they think it’s “special”.
Have you ever noticed how the highest-calorie foods (pastas, pizzas, burgers, wings, etc.) are almost always in the sections of the menu with the catchiest graphics? A study done at Cornell University discovered that dishes made to stand out with catchy design elements were the most commonly ordered.
Oddly enough, labeling a food “low calorie” or “fat free” often discourages people from eating those dishes. Most people equate “healthy” with “bland” or “tasteless”, so they’re far less likely to choose a dish that they think is healthier than others.
Did you know that people who eat colorful dishes are likely to eat 77% MORE food than those who eat less colorful dishes? A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that dishes with 10 or more colors increased calorie consumption, while dishes with fewer than 7 colors did little to affect the appetite. Chefs know that adding more color to your dishes will make you eat more, so add they shall!
What appetizers and dishes are at the TOP of the menu? Those are the items you see first, and they are the ones you are most likely to order. Did you ever notice how salads and soups are always at the BOTTOM of the menu, while steaks, burgers, pizzas, and all the other high calorie (expensive) foods sit right at the top of the menu?
Free Bread and Chips
The more you snack on the bread, breadsticks, and tortilla chips brought to your table, the more calories you consume. Just by skipping a few slices of bread, you cut down your calorie consumption by easily 200 to 400 calories. Plus, when you eat bread, you’re likely to eat 16% more calories when the entrée arrives.
You may scoff at this, but check out how your stomach reacts next time you walk into a steakhouse and inhale that delicious scent of sizzling meat. Restaurants use Scent Air, a product that allows them to fill their restaurant with the scent of waffles, burgers, cinnamon buns, coffee, and dozens more hunger-inducing scents.
Did you know that certain colors make you more likely to overeat? Red and yellow are the two colors that cause you to want to eat more. Red not only makes you gobble down your food, but you eat more forcefully as well. Yellow makes you feel happy, stimulating your brain to produce serotonin–a chemical that plays a role in appetite as well as mood.
When you sit down at the table, you tend to be both hungry and thirsty. By the time your waiter comes to take your drink order, you are ready to consume ANYTHING. People tend to order beers and cocktails as they wait for their food, driving up both the price and calorie content of your meal. Booze also causes you to eat faster, and you burn fewer calories AFTER drinking alcohol–meaning more calories are stored as fat.
Buffets don’t just cause you to eat more because they’re a free-for-all, but studies have found that multiple food choices increase your tendency to eat more.