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5 Food Trends in Healthcare

Bowls

     Eating food from a bowl is comforting and wholesome. Foodservice facilities have come to realize that bowls are a wonderful vessel for more than just soups or cereal. Health care facilities and restaurants alike are utilizing bowls to create portable, comforting meals. Plus, bowls can also provide your customers with a sense of independence. Both from flavor, taste, and even to better person centric care for the physically challenged feeder.


Local Food

     The catchword, "local" has become a symbol of trust. As a result of the internet and social media, consumers are more likely to trust their small local farmer who offers healthy, seasonal foods. Often, food service operators use the names of these local farms in menu marketing.

     Consumers are not the only ones trusting in local food, physicians recognize the preventative health benefits of sustainable food systems. Now, a number of hospitals are using their massive food purchases, which feed both patients and staff, to support local food. Hospitals have a huge purchasing power and by supporting local food, the local economy is strengthened and healthier options are available at the hospital’s food service facility. “Hospitals hope that by modeling good eating habits and supporting local food systems, patients will take good eating habits home and communities will have greater access to fresher, whole foods.”


Chefs

     Hospital food is turning gourmet! Many medical centers have hired executive chefs to upgrade their food service menus, types of foods utilized and preparation techniques.

     Hospitals also hope these higher patient satisfaction rates will influence potential healthcare customers, like those looking for a place to have a baby or get elective surgery. Not only does chef-driven food at hospitals attract these new consumers, but there might be more at stake for hospitals than simply attracting new consumers. Under the Affordable Care Act, federal reimbursement is being linked more and more to patient satisfaction scores.


Condiments from Scratch

     By creating condiments and specialties from scratch, healthcare food service facilities gain a reputation for offering fresh, wholesome food for their patients, plus cultural diversity and ethnic flavorings. Consumers demand authenticity and this trend of making condiments from scratch can have a positive impact on their perception. Plus, the great thing about offering homemade condiments and specialty items is that the production may take place during off hours or may be done off-premise, thus the foodservice operation's workflow is not altered.


Individualistic Delivery

     Healthcare food service facilities are shifting to a more individualistic food service delivery model. The industry is seeing dining trends that are based on providing freshly prepared items, which are driving hospital foodservice operations to migrate from more batch-style cooking to models such as room service. Thus, patients are now given the opportunity to order what they would like to eat, when they are ready to eat. In turn, the shift to individualistic food service delivery has greatly increased the quality and freshness of hospital food. Another wonderful benefit of offering patients’ individualistic food service delivery is that facilities are now able to closely monitor patients with special nutritional requirements or allergies.

     Many healthcare foodservice facilities are offering ‘a la carte’ options. Special diets with a simple philosophy: “fresh, homemade selections minimizing the use of fat and sodium.” They want patients to taste the food, with most menu items being made to order to optimize freshness and minimize waste.

     Senior dining is focusing on individualized approaches too their person centric care approach. Giving each individual what they want from food, flavor, location and timing is being addressed for today’s customers.

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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