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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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Your Guide to Mobile Handwashing Stations

Handwashing on the go has become pivotal, We've created a guide for the best use cases and set-up for your operations.

We’re living in an era of increased importance when it comes to sanitation. According to the Center for Disease Control, we know the coronavirus and the subsequent COVID-19 disease it causes is spread mainly through people-to-people contact. This means people who are within six feet of one another are at risk of transmitting the virus. Because it’s transferred through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, it’s also critical that we wash our hands. Continue reading Your Guide to Mobile Handwashing Stations

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A Step-by-Step Look at Senior Care In-Room Meal Delivery

From prep to presentation, take a quick look at meal delivery with the SuzyQ

As we continue to navigate the world of COVID-19, we’re seeing changes in the ways foodservice is delivered. Nowhere is this more important than in senior care and longterm care communities.

As we’ve all seen, older populations are the most vulnerable demographic, and new regulations have been devised to help protect them. One of the most important is to move dining service from dining rooms and common spaces, opting instead for personal, in-room delivery. Continue reading A Step-by-Step Look at Senior Care In-Room Meal Delivery

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How Senior Care Dining Impacts Mental Health

In healthcare, mealtimes can be some of the most anticipated and enjoyable times of the day.

There’s no doubting the fact people love food. We love the way it tastes, the way it feels in our mouth, the way it nourishes us. We love the socialization that usually comes with food. Dining is an experience. And most important, it’s good for our mental health.

Nowhere is this more true than in our senior care and long term care communities. According to one study on senior care and foodservice, “mealtimes are a mainstay of life through which residents’ experiences are characterized, exemplified, and magnified. In the study, the three themes that impact a resident’s experience were emotional and psychological connections with other residents, managing competing interests with limited resources, and familiarity and routine.

Food and meals touch on all three.

1) Food brings residents together. Though traditionally in communal dining areas, meals are enjoyed together and provide opportunities for conversation and socialization.

2) Food provides a sense of control. When residents have meal choice, when they can literally decide what goes on their plate and what doesn’t, it provides an element of control that can often be hard to come by for residents in long term communities.

3) Food provides routine. For many in long term communities, mealtimes provide needed stabilization in terms of day-to-day routines. When you know you’re going to eat lunch every day at 11:30, it provides welcome familiarity

Senior Care Foodservice in the Age of COVID

Today, of course, we’re living in an entirely different world. The processes by which food is served in these types of communities have been turned upside down, and foodservice directors are doing whatever they can to help residents still achieve the three points above, the points that are so critical to the mental health and well-being of our seniors living in these communities.

The reality is, communal dining has pretty much been taken away from us due to the potential exposure created by the Coronavirus. Operations across the country are moving to models where food is ordered and delivered directly to residents’ rooms.

In terms of socialization, foodservice staff need to be creative. They need to understand the personal delivery of food in a resident’s room is still the highlight of the day in many cases, but now that highlight comes without the ability to dine with friends. Those brief interactions when food is delivered become critical for the well being of residents.

Choice is still choice. In some ways, the concept of calling in an order and receiving it delivered can be kind of fun for residents. Play up that angle. When residents are restricted from the dining room, creative room service can be a fun way to provide some joy.

And, lastly, food is still part of the routine. Though that routine may be a bit different, it still provides consistency in someone’s day, allowing them to feel reassurance that what someone is used to will continue.

Just because COVID-19 has changed senior care foodservice doesn’t mean everything is changed for the worse.

Discover the basics of this new era of senior care foodservice by learning more from our resident senior care expert. From new and creative ways to deliver food, as well as the systems that need to be in place to accomplish it, watch on-demand, or download, our webinar “Customer Confidence in Food Safety“.

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Healthcare Foodservice Solutions During the Age of COVID

What is COVID-19

Healthcare foodservice operations are multifaceted and complex.  When you think about the different types of service required, it’s easy to understand why foodservice equipment needs to be dynamic, durable, and versatile in order to achieve operational objectives. When you consider the coronavirus and resulting COVID-19, those operations are even more complex.

In general, there are two types of operations, and within those operations, there are two types of service. There are additions, for sure, but as a rule of thumb, healthcare foodservice falls in either inpatient or out-patient applications. Within those applications, it’s either in-room dining for patients or residents, along with outside-the-room dining for medical staff and guests.

Let’s take a quick look at how COVID is impacting these distinct areas of healthcare foodservice.

SENIOR CARE & LONG TERM COMMUNITIES

As we look at inpatient care in the age of COVID, one of the hardest-hit segments of healthcare is, without a doubt, senior care and long term communities. This is due, in large part, because of age and compromising health conditions of residents.

Serving meals has largely gone directly to the residents’ rooms, as congregating in a dining room is much too dangerous for these populations. This, in turn, puts quality in jeopardy. Food must obviously be delivered safely, but the more time that elapses between the back-of-the-house and the bedside, the greater the chances food will lose heat, retain too much moisture, or even become unsafe.

There can be many solutions to these challenges. First is ensuring that plate warmers on the line are working properly and plates are the right temps.  Plates should be between 140-190 degrees coming out of the warmer.  Consider a laser thermometer to do spot checks on the top, middle, and bottom plates to confirm best results.  Next is getting the food plated and covered as soon as possible and into a tray cart for delivery.  Timers used in conjunction with a line up of tray carts are a great way to be sure meals aren’t plated and in the kitchen too long.  

If the community is not using trays, consider a mobile steam table that goes door-to-door.  This allows residents to choose exactly what they want and get hot food plated up right in front of them.  Don’t forget to have a hydration cart or other way to serve dry goods on hand as well.  

HOSPITALS

Like senior care and long term communities, hospitals must also provide foodservice for inpatient applications. In this case, though, patients are often amidst serious health conditions that make the success of a foodservice operation dependent on the health of the patient. Of course, the inverse is true, as well. 

In the age of COVID, making sure meals arrive at patient rooms while reducing the risk of potential exposure is critical. Sanitizing dinnerware and flatware to recommended standards is critical, and changing ordering practices can help minimize person-to-person risks. Like in senior care communities, hospitals can also adapt phone ordering as a way of eliminating potential exposure risks.

In hospitals, staff and patient guests must also be part of the foodservice equation. What are some of the ways to minimize risk to these groups? In many cases, buffet-service cafeterias are a primary source of service. Retrofit them to become more staff-service instead of self-serve. Provide ample spacing and prevent overcrowding with signs and barriers. And in dining areas, space tables to sufficient distances.

WHAT’S GOOD FOR HEALTHCARE FOODSERVICE IS GOOD FOR OUR HEALTH

It’s clear that food can have great impacts on our health and well-being. That’s never truer than in the facilities and communities where health is typically the main reason for being there. In order to get well, we need to consider foodservice solutions that promote wellness. And in the age of COVID, that means minimizing invisible risks we never thought possible in the ways we’re experiencing them today. That being said, there are equipment solutions and processes that can help.

Lakeside Has You Covered

We have compiled a list of product solutions to consider for healthcare foodservice in the age of COVID-19.  With industry leading lead times and the ability to modify anything to fit your specific needs, Lakeside is your partner in healthcare foodservice solutions.

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Umami – The 5th Flavor

Umami Saves The Taste (Buds): Elevating Food Flavor

Imagine you’re out to eat, about to be served. You know the food is ready when you smell the aroma from a few feet away. When it arrives to the table, your mouth begins to water at the sight of the dish you’ve been looking forward to. You take a bite, but it tastes bland. This can be rather disappointing if you have been anticipating a delicious meal. This is your senses at work. We use senses such as sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste to make judgments about the food we eat. We eat with our eyes first, smell second and taste last. Taste is the most influential in determining our enjoyment of a food. You might be familiar with the basic tastes like sweet, sour, salty and bitter, but we have an additional taste, also known as Umami.

Umami is a savory taste imparted by glutamate, found in dishes like meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. The goal of Umami is to bring out the natural flavors in food and ultimately, enhance the flavoring of the food. Increasing the use of Umami in dishes could:

  1. Introduce new ingredients to food - The primary role of Umami is to make food more flavorful, but it also changes how our dishes are prepared. Umami can be used on its own or in conjunction with other flavors and foods, which opens up new ideas on traditional recipes.
  2. Increase food acceptability and consumption - When a food tastes good, we normally want to eat more of it. This is especially important when trying to increase intake of foods like fruits and vegetables. Umami can influence the perceptions of these foods in dishes and increase their overall acceptance on the plate.
  3. Reduce food waste - On the contrary, we naturally leave more food on the plate when we don’t like it. This can add to the pile of food wasted on a daily basis. Umami has the potential to reduce food waste by increasing the desirability of the dish. 
  4. Enhance overall customer experience - One of the most common objectives of a foodservice operation is to give the customer the best experience possible. If the food tastes good, there is higher customer satisfaction. This increases the chances might even recommend and rave about the food!

Try a simple taste test with your team. Add Umami to a portion of soup and one without. We have experienced this test and the difference was significant as adding Umami gave the broth a savory feel, without interfering with the texture or the presentation of it. Umami’s usage can have a huge impact on how your patients and customers enjoy their food. You may be surprised on the impact on the enjoyment of future dining experiences too, especially in those who have compromised or diminished taste buds due to illnesses or aging. Umami can give these populations better eating and tasting experiences thus, better consumption and nutrition.